37th Annual Spring Symposium on Archeology

Translating Archeology for the public

April 13, 2002

Translating Archeology for the Public


Bringing Archeology to the Pubic
Susan Langley

The popular appeal of archeology is clearly evident in the number and diversity of, not just individual shows or series but, entire television networks devoted to the topic, either specifically or tangentially. The issue of whether these programs stimulate public interest or public interest drives the production of these shows could form the nexus of entire conferences and, in fact, it does when marketing studies and heritage tourism planning is considered. Regardless of this chicken or egg argument, the upshot is that a participating public provides a symbiosis for chronically under funded archeological research. This presentation provides an overview of projects undertaken by the Maryland Historical Trust which have a strong public component. It also examines the pro's and con's of public involvement and discusses future considerations and possibilities.

Where Would We Be Without Them? Public Participation in Exploring the Archeology of Western Maryland
Robert Wall

For the last twenty years public participation in western Maryland archeological projects has been a major contribution to Maryland archeology as a whole. Beginning with the Cresaptown site excavations in the 1980s and the subsequent formation of the western Maryland chapter of ASM, avocational archeologists have provided assistance in many facets of western Maryland archeology. This presentation traces the development of public archeology in the region from participation and learning to active promotion of preservation activities.

The Richard E. Stearns Memorial Lecture

The Richard E. Stearns Memorial Lecture is named in honor of Richard E Stearns (1902-1969), curator of the Department of Archeology at the Natural History Society of Maryland for more than 30 years. Mr. Stearns located numerous archeological sites in the Chesapeake area, and carefully documented his surface and excavated finds. He published numerous archeological articles and several monographs, and donated his collection to the Smithsonian Institution. A commercial artist by profession, he was nonetheless a pioneer in Maryland archeology, instrumental in recording much of Maryland prehistory.


Presenting The Stories: Archeological Discovery and the Public
Henry Miller

Archeologists constantly make new discoveries about the past and generate massive volumes of information. But how is this knowledge made available to the public? This presentation will examine some of the ways these findings can be related in both outdoor and indoor settings, consider successful and unsuccessful experiments and make observations about the current status of archeology and exhibits. New plans for interpreting the 1638 St. John's site at St. Mary's City will also be previewed.

Working Together: Archeology and the Oneida Indian Nation of New York
Dixie Henry

As T.J. Ferguson asserted almost five years ago, archeologist and American Indians are in the midst of restructuring their relationship with one another in many ways. Both the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and criticism by native people have caused archeologists to examine different ways in which they could better involve and interact with the native communities who are culturally affiliated with sites that are being investigated. This presentation explores how archeologists and the Oneida Indian Nation have forged a collaborative relationship and developed an archeology workshop for Oneida youth – a partnership that has resulted in a valuable exchange of information, an increased level of public outreach, and a growing level of respect between all of the parties involved.

Fostering Appreciation of Maryland Through Historical Archeology: Education Programming at Anne Arundel County's Lost Towns Project
Lisa Plumley

Since 1990, The Lost Towns Project staff has worked with children, families, interns, and adults to research historical sites around Anne Arundel County. The site diversity within Anne Arundel County, along with an assortment of staff with a wide range of interests and professional backgrounds, allows for a broad variety of educational opportunities. The Project utilizes a fusion of several education techniques, such as hands-on activities and lectures, to establish significance to objects and methods that may otherwise turn into meaningless field trips or menial tasks.

Building Community from Sukeek's Cabin to Smith's St. Leonard: Public Archeology, Public History, Public Policy
Kirsti Uunila

What can happen to people who excavate the lives of freed people on a ridgetop in Southern Maryland? Why script a tour called “the Landscape of Segregation” for public school teachers? The Public Archeology program at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum creates opportunities for people to encounter the past in the context of local and regional social history. The presentation will decribe the program and explore the multiple educational, research, and policy goals that are served in the process of engaging diverse publics in archeology, and discuss some surprising results.