Volunteers are an important part of Washington College Archaeology—making significant contributions to investigations in the field and the laboratory. Working alongside staff and students, volunteers learn about archaeology in a hands-on setting that provides an enriching, educational experience. Staff and students also benefit by working with members of the community who bring a variety of backgrounds, skills and life experiences to share. Together, volunteers, students and the professional archaeology staff make an enthusiastic and dedicated team.
Volunteers can participate in a number of field and laboratory activities. On excavation sites, volunteers learn the basic field methods—including excavation, screening, mapping and record and note keeping. In the laboratory, opportunities exist to learn procedures such as cleaning, sorting, coding and cataloguing artifacts, conducting historical research and analyzing recovered materials. No prior archaeological experience is necessary. Volunteers under the age of 15 need to be accompanied by an adult.
The convenient, downtown location on the ground floor of the historic Custom House at the foot of High Street in Chestertown makes getting involved easy. Contact the Lab Director at 410-810-7164 to set up a time to volunteer. Or just stop by for a visit and watch students and staff piece together the history of the Eastern Shore.
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology has relationships with a variety of organizations that offer paid and unpaid internships, helping students to gain practical experience and make professional contacts.
- The Maryland Historic Trust
- The Chesapeake Maritime Museum
- The Jefferson Patterson Park Museum
- The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory
As well as private consulting firms from the area. Additional internships may be available to work in the field or lab with archaeological staff at Washington College. Funds from the Maryland Historical Trust have allowed the College to offer four semester-long Assistantships in Archaeology & Historic Preservation during each of the past few years.
Field School Opportunities Abroad
- Ecuadorian Adventure - Especially good for cultural anthropologists
- Ecuador: USFQ Field Schools in Machalilla National Park and in the Galapagos Islands. Universidad San Francisco de Quito is home of one of Washington College’s study abroad program.
- Peru: Chillon Valley Project on the central coast of Peru directed by Prof. Robert Benfer (very nice guy!) of Missouri University and Federico Villarreal University
Peruvian Field Schools of the Pontificia Catholic University of Peru(PUC) has several fields schools in various areas:
Lima: San Jose de Moro y Huaca de la Luna Projects (archaeology)
Mantaro Valley Project (ethnomusicology)
Sacred Valley of Incas Project (telecommunications)
San Pedro de Lloc (ecotourism)
Please see Dr. Seidel or Dr. Sherbondy to discuss possible credit.
What kind of jobs exist for me while I’m still in college?
A variety of job opportunities exist during the summer and during the academic year, especially once you have completed a summer field school. The department runs a number of year-round archaeological projects that are funded by foundations and state agencies. Whenever possible, Washington College students with archaeological training or experience will be hired to assist with these projects. In addition, the department maintains working relationships with a number of contract archaeologists in the region who hire students for fieldwork on a temporary basis.
What are my job prospects once I graduate?
Jobs in archaeology today are available in a surprising number of places, some that are traditional and some that are new:
Academia—Along with museums, universities have been the traditional base for archaeology. Teaching at this level today generally requires a PhD, and the job market is competitive.
Museums—The other traditional home of archaeologists, museums around the world employ a large number of archaeologists. Although jobs exist with a range of educational backgrounds, a graduate degree usually is required.
Private Sector—Beginning in the 1960s, a variety of legislation has mandated an extraordinary amount of archaeological work. Just as impacts on natural resources must be considered before any state or federally funded project can proceed, the impacts on “cultural resources” such as historic buildings and archaeological sites must be considered. An enormous number of private companies have emerged to help companies and government agencies fulfill this new legislative and regulatory requirement. These “cultural resource management” (CRM) firms employ archaeologists, historians, architects, and planners on a wide variety of projects across the country. There are more archaeologists working in CRM today than in any other sector. You can easily begin working with a BA, although supervisory jobs require an MA.
Government—Because of the new regulations regarding archaeology and cultural resources, virtually every major government agency now employs archaeologists to ensure compliance. These include traditional supporters of archaeology, such as the National Park Service, as well as the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Transportation, and many other agencies at the federal and state level. Educational requirements are similar to those in the private sector.
Faculty in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology maintain close ties with many graduate degree programs, private CRM firms, and government agencies, and have been very successful in placing graduates in graduate programs and careers.
The Washington College Public Archaeology Laboratory is located in one of Chestertown’s most important historic buildings, the Custom House. Built in 1745 at the foot of High Street, the Custom House was bequeathed to Washington College in 1994 by Wilbur Ross Hubbard. The structure was fully renovated in 2000 and 2001.
Prior to the renovation, archaeologists from the College conducted a six-month excavation on the grounds, revealing much of the long buried history of the house and early Chestertown. In the spring of 2002, the Public Archaeology Laboratory joined the College’s Center for Environment and Society and the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience in the newly renovated building.
The archaeology lab occupies the ground floor of the Custom House and is open to the public. It provides a space for students, staff and community volunteers to process artifact collections and work on other historic materials recovered from the region. Artifacts and field excavation records are brought into the archaeology lab for processing, analysis and storage. All recovered artifacts must be cleaned, identified and labeled. This information is then entered into an electronic database for easy reference.
Other aspects of laboratory work include accessioning photographic collections, analyzing excavation records and notes, conducting historical research, entering computer data, preparing reports, developing displays and exhibits and giving guided tours to visitors and school groups. Mapping and analysis of spatial data generally is performed in the program’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Lab on campus in Goldstein Hall.
The Public Archaeology Laboratory includes both a wet lab and a dry lab, reference and office areas, and artifact storage space. A collection of archaeological journals and reports and an array of other research materials are available for student and volunteer use. Displays and interpretive signs for visitors are placed throughout the laboratory.
The public is invited to stop by the archaeology lab. Enter at the double doors facing High Street. Students and staff will be happy to show you through the facility, explaining the work of the archaeologist, both in the field and in the lab. However, due to busy academic schedules, the Washington College Public Archaeology Laboratory maintains flexible hours of operation. Special arrangements can be made by calling ahead (410-810-7164).