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June 29 , 2008

The Material Culture of Steamboat Passengers

Archaeological Evidence from the Missouri River


For many years, one of my favorite classroom devices in historical archaeology was to ask the students to imagine that they had to make the choice between saving—from some unnamed calamity—all master’s theses or all doctoral disser tations in anthropology, but not both. Like good students, they usually looked to their Ph.D. holding professor and chose the dissertations. Much to their surprise, Iwouldrespondthatthetheseswould win withouteventakingtime to ponderthe issue. The issue is clearly one of often naïve and rarely eloquent theses full of good primary data versus sometimes more sophisticated and better written works full of irrelevant theory and meaningless statistics. Perhaps this is an overstate ment of the situation, but it is not too far offthe mark. The University Microfilms International efforts to make the titles of disser tations in North America and the English speaking portions of Europe available through Dissertation Abstracts is commendable. With only one minor exception, dissertations in historical and underwater archaeology in the United States are to be found listed in Dissertation Abstracts and thus are available for purchase.

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