We are blogging as we dig into the archaeological records archived at Independence National Historical Park (INDE) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. These records were created over the past 50 years as archaeologists researched sites within the park's boundaries. The Independence Park Archives is currently creating a Guide for this vast collection of documents. This blog serves toward that end. It functions as a platform where archaeologists, archivists, and the interested public can share ideas about how to make these materials more widely available and more useful to the user.
Read more about this project blog...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sharing the Good Results

We will be presenting on the INHP Archaeological Records Collection and this Digging in the Archives Blog next January in Austin, Texas. By 'We' I mean Karen Stevens --the Independence Park Archivist --and me --Patrice L. Jeppson, Historical Archaeologist and National Park Service Volunteer-In-Parks Program participant.

We will be taking part in a Society for Historical Archaeology conference symposium dedicated to collaborative outreach methods and techniques. We have titled our contribution "Blogging on An Archaeological Records Collection: Archive Outreach and Creating a User-Friendly Access Plan". Other outreach mediums that will be presented in the symposium include print publication, Film, the public lab, the archaeology classroom, Performance Art, mobile technologies, and 3D visualizations.

Here is what we proposed to talk about:
"Digging in the Archives" is an Internet blog associated with an archaeological records collection management project underway at the Archives in Independence National Historical Park. This archived documentation includes 50+ years worth of field notes, artifact logs, photographs, and site reports related to the research, preservation, and interpretation of historical archaeology sites. The Blog created for this project features interesting finds "excavated" from the files and presents musings about the Park's archaeological history and historiography. However, this blog contributes substantively in another way: The interactive nature of the Web 2.0 platform provides a productive working space where archaeologists, archivists, and the interested public can share ideas about how to make this collection more widely available and more useful to the user. This presentation will introduce the collection and demonstrate how this archaeological records-based blog is contributing toward the development of a more user-friendly Archives Access Plan. (Key Words: Blogging, Archives Collections Management, Collaboration)

Sure to be mentioned in the presentation will be an interesting document recently processed in the Archives that connects the blog project with the SHA conference. This document was written by the Archeologist John Cotter. The year was 1976, and Independence National Historical Park was a sponsor of the Society for Historical Archaeology meeting that was taking place in Philadelphia that year. The archived documentation also indicates that this conference of archaeologists who studied American History was the first event scheduled for the city on the official Bicentennial-year calendar. Cotter helped to bring the SHA conference to Philadelphia and then he brought the conference attendees to the Park to see its historical archaeology sites (the schedule of activities for that tour is also housed in the archives).

John Cotter was an National Park Service Regional Archeologist for many years and hundreds of papers, images, and other materials related to his work in Independence Park are stored in the Archaeological Records Collection in the Independence Park Archives. Cotter taught the first class in American Historical Archaeology ever taught in an American university (the University of Pennsylvania) and he was the first elected President of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Today, his contributions to the field are recognized by the Society for Historical Archaeology's John L. Cotter Award established in 1998, and in NPS by the John Cotter Excellence in National Park Service Archeology Award.

Dr. Cotter was a strong advocate of education and outreach in archaeology. I think that he would like the idea of this blog as a way to share archaeology information and as a way to engage with those interested in using archaeological information. He would likely be pleased as well that the blog is being presented on at the Society for Historical Archaeology's annual meeting.

Learn more:

The Society for Historical Archaeology

Witness to the Past: The Life and Works of John L. Cotter
Edited by Daniel G. Roberts and David G. Orr
Society for American Archaeology/Society for Historical Archaeology Press