Medicine, Marbles and Mayhem: Unearthed Stories from 19th-Century Privies

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Feb. 1 - May 26, 2014

Ever wonder what someone could learn by going through the items in your bathroom? What does the brand of soap you use say about you? Our archaeologists and their teams have excavated local privy sites dating from the late 1800s (back then, they were known as outhouses), and starting Feb. 1, Medicine, Marbles and Mayhem: Unearthed Stories from 19th-Century Privies will showcase the unique items found during their excavations.

You’ll get a snapshot of what life was like for locals in the 1800s—from artifacts like dishware and medicine bottles to children’s toys. Learn the stories behind the artifacts through accompanying public records, including newspapers, city directories, census records and more.

One segment, The Policeman and The Privy, tells the story of Charles Dustin, a policeman whose uniform, gun and ammunition were discovered in a local privy site dating from 1899-1920. No one knows the exact reason why Dustin dumped his gear down the privy, but records provide context to his story, which includes arrests, time in jail and a stint in a local mental facility. Learn more about his story and others’ in this free exhibit, running through May 26.

Medicine, Marbles and Mayhem is a collaborative effort between Northern Kentucky University Masters of Public History and anthropology students and Cincinnati Museum Center. The artifacts in the exhibit were excavated by Rieveschl Curator of Archaeology Bob Genheimer and his assistants.



Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.



John A. Ruthven Exhibition Gallery





Cocktails with Curators

On May 8, uncover the secret life of Cincinnatians in the 1800s in Medicine, Marbles, and Mayhem. Then enjoy cocktails in the lower level lobby while discussing the discoveries with Bob Genheimer, our George Rieveschl Curator of Archaeology. Learn more >