Mary Lynn Longsworth, a senior anthropology major at UMSL, displays marbles that are representative of ones she researches. She recently received a grant from the Missouri Archaeological Society for work. (Photo by Myra Lopez)

Clocking many hours doing research and analysis can be a solitary experience. Oftentimes Mary Lynn Longsworth, a senior anthropology major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, is left wondering if anyone besides her could be interested in the work she’s doing.

Her answer has come in the form of a $1,000 student research grant from the Missouri Archaeological Society.

Longsworth has been researching 19th century toy marbles recovered from Cochran Gardens Apartments, an Irish and German community in north St. Louis city once known as Kerry Patch. The grant money will further her research into these historic children’s toys, the children who played with them and how their family finances did or did not have an effect on what marbles they owned.

Her grant proposal called for looking beyond the Cochran Gardens site to other areas, such as the Worthy Women’s Aid and Hospital, a shelter that was on Howard Street between 10th and 11th  streets in St. Louis, as well as a few other sites.

On learning of the grant, she said her emotions ran the gamut: “Ecstatic, astounded and honored.”

“This award has happily knocked my socks off, and encouraged me even more,” Longsworth said. “To me, it means that there are people interested in my research, interested in what I’m discovering, and that they want me to share that.”

She’s twice had the privilege of presenting her marble research at the annual spring meeting of the Missouri Archaeological Society, at a local chapter of the Society, and the international meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Longsworth credits a lot of her success to her mentor Patti Wright, associate professor of anthropology at UMSL. Wright was the one who suggested that Longsworth turn her attention to studying children’s archeology.

Wright said it’s “very exciting” to see an undergraduate receive the award. Not only does the award have a financial component, but it gives Longsworth the opportunity to publish her results in a regional journal.

“Mary Lynn has walked the extra mile when it comes to investigating marbles from archaeological contexts,” Wright said. “Her work has the potential to add information about a segment of society – children – whose stories are often underrepresented.”

Longsworth is overjoyed at the prospect of having her work published for the first time.

“It’ll start to shed a glimmer of light onto a simple toy that unifies children,” she said. “A simple small orb means so much.”

In a UMSL Daily story published Jan. 27, Longsworth talked in depth about her toy marble research and the significance of the findings.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez