Ready, Set, Thesis!

Writing a thesis is probably the most intimidating part of going to graduate school, and I must admit it was the part I was most concerned about when I first started at IUP.  The only advice I can give incoming students on this topic is don’t panic.  It is going to be okay.  You can do this.  I came to grad school with absolutely no idea what to write my thesis on, and I was convinced that I was not going to make it when I started last semester, especially as the topic I had chosen last spring fell through over the summer.  I worked with my advisor, however, and after a lot of research and a few anxiety-packed meetings, I finally found the perfect site.

iloveyouthesisNow before I get into the project itself, let me stress the importance of choosing a topic you love.  You are going to be spending A LOT of time with this paper.  From the very beginning you will be explaining your goals for this project again and again in draft after draft of various proposals and abstracts until you can recite every bit of knowledge you have about this project from memory.  Then, once the preliminary steps are completed, you begin obsessing.  You will think about this paper morning, noon, and night.  You’ll take it with you to work, think about it in class, and even dream about it.  You will talk about nothing but your thesis at conference after conference, in presentation after presentation, and in the end, you will write a 100+ page paper that you then have to submit for review and defend in front of your committee, professors, and peers.  So long story short, if you love what you are studying, you are going to be a much happier grad student.

That being said, one of my main concerns was finding something I could feel passionate about, and thus feel more motivated to complete in a timely manner.  And I have to tell you, I love this topic.  It is new, fascinating, and it touches on several of my research interests as an archaeologist.  The site is a black powder mill, which was owned by the DuPont Company and operated from around the time of the Civil War to World War II.  The mill is located on a densely wooded mountainside in southwestern Pennsylvania, and is now a series of dilapidated buildings and structural remains scattered across approximately 135 acres of land in Forbes State Forest.  The rangers there have been interested in having some research done at the site for some time now, and were very enthusiastic about helping me get started on my project.

Structural remains at the DuPont Powder Mill site.

Structural remains at the DuPont Powder Mill site.

Shortly after I chose the site, Dr. Ford and I went out to see the property.  Ranger Clawson, who works for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), took us on a tour of the area and shared the information he knew about the mill.  As we walked around, we were able to identify two bomb-proof shelters, a large chimney structure, remnants of railroads and tramways, and a number of deteriorating buildings.  The more I saw of the site, the more interested I became, and by the end of the week I was writing my proposal.

I did as much background research as I could over the course of the semester, and came up with research questions to guide my work at the site.  I also had to come up with ways to answer these questions in the field.  After a lot of research and a lot of writing over the course of a very busy semester, I finally submitted all of the proposals and paperwork I needed to in order to begin my thesis research.  Earlier this month I even managed to present on my project at the Society for Historical Archaeology conference, which you can read more about in my most recent post to the IUP Archaeology blog if you’re interested!

So that was the preliminary part of my thesis writing journey, and I have since moved on to obsessing.  But, as I said before, it’s not so bad when you love what you’re doing.  I am absolutely fascinated by the black powder industry, especially during the time that the DuPont mill was in operation.  This product fueled wars, industry, and development projects across the country during one of the most critical periods of American history.  I have posted a page with more detailed information on the site and the black powder manufacturing process on this blog, which you can access at the top of the page or by clicking here.  I can’t wait to delve further into my research for this project, and to share all that I learn as I continue through this process!

Remains of a bomb-proof shelter at the DuPont Powder Mill site.

Remains of a bomb-proof shelter at the DuPont Powder Mill site.

Digging CRM

Equipment used during our Phase I survey.

Equipment used during our Phase I survey.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working with IUP Archaeological Services on a small project in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  The project was a survey that we were conducting to identify cultural resources in an area that will soon be subject to development.  This type of archaeology is called cultural resource management, or CRM, and it is a little different than the archaeology I’ve written about in the past.  Unlike the large scale, long term field projects I have usually worked on, CRM is done when a development project such as a road or building that is carried out or funded by the Federal government has the potential to damage or destroy a cultural resource.

There are three types of archaeological surveys that may be conducted on a CRM project.  Phase I surveys are the first type, and they aim to identify whether or not cultural resources exist in the proposed project area.  This survey may involve surface collection, geophysical investigation, and the excavation of shovel test pits.  If cultural resources are identified in this survey, Phase II testing may be conducted.  This typically involves the excavation of test units and is meant to assess whether the resource is eligible to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.  A Phase III excavation is conducted if the resource is considered eligible, and involves mitigation or data recovery.  CRM is the most common form of archaeology conducted in the United States, and it plays an important role in the identification and documentation of archaeological sites across the country.

A 50cmX50cm square STP excavated during our project.

A 50 cm X 50 cm square STP.

The project I’ve been working on is a Phase I survey where we dug 35 shovel test pits, or STPs.  These were 50 centimeter squares, spaced 15 meters apart along three transects, and each were dug until we were at least 10 to 20 centimeters into subsoil.  After we finished the first round of test pits, we excavated additional ones around the STPs that had artifacts in them.  These are called radials, and they are meant to establish whether additional cultural material exists in that area.

Our project area was in a grassy field surrounded by trees and creeks, and no prior archaeology had been done at this location.  I was very eager to get started, as this was my first time working on a CRM project.  We spent a total of four days in the field, and each day provided new lessons and surprises.  We began by establishing where we were going to dig using a GPS unit and marking the places we needed to excavate with pin flags.  Then, we got to work!

Tip of a stone tool found during our project.

Tip of a stone tool found during our excavation.

The first day had three big surprises.  The first was the soil.  It was terrible.  Indiana hadn’t had rain for a while leading up to the project, so the dense clay soil in this particular area was extremely hard to break up and screen.  In fact, we broke two screens in the first few hours just trying to get through it!  The second surprise was a thunderstorm that hit in the afternoon, forcing us to wait in the van until it passed.  Fortunately, this softened up the soil a bit, which allowed us to more easily reach our third surprise of the day – the tip of a stone tool found in one of my STPs!  This was very exciting, and I was eager to return later in the week to dig some more.

The second day had one big surprise which resulted in very little progress.  We arrived at the site to find that the pin flags had been mowed down by a farmer who apparently used the grass in that particular field to feed his cows.  This also happened to be the day when our project director was out of town with the GPS unit, so in the interest of maintaining consistency with our grid, we chose to wait until the next day to re-establish the grid and continue excavating.  The next couple of days were far more productive, as we continued to dig and found a number of prehistoric stone tools and flakes, which were mostly concentrated in one part of the project area.  This indicates that there was definitely some kind of cultural activity at that location, which is exactly what we were trying to find out.

The terrible soil that plagued much of the site.

The terrible soil that plagued much of our site.

Last week, we wrapped up our fieldwork and have since begun writing the report.  My responsibilities are now to clean and analyze the artifacts we found and to write up a section of the report that will be sent to a number of people, including the client who is developing on the land.  I’m excited about the artifact analysis, as we found some very interesting material during our excavation!  I’m also happy that I get to contribute to the final report, as that will provide me with valuable experience in a very important step of any archaeological project.

This project was a great learning experience at a neat site and I’m very glad that I was a part of it!  As my work with Archaeological Services winds down, however, my semester is just starting to pick up speed.  The most exciting development is that my thesis research is now officially underway.  I finally had the chance to visit my site yesterday, and I will be writing about that and my project later this week!

Our project area for the Phase I survey.

Our project area for the Phase I survey.

Greetings from Graduate School

Me speaking at the 2014 VCU School of World Studies graduation ceremony.

Me speaking at the 2014 VCU School of World Studies graduation ceremony.

My goodness, it has been a LONG time since I have posted anything on this blog!  Life has been absolutely crazy since my last update, which I wrote during my final semester at Virginia Commonwealth University.  In that post I described how it felt to submit the last of my graduate school applications, and that it seemed as though I was approaching a finish line of sorts as my senior year of college came to a close.  Reading that now, I can’t help but shake my head and smile.

In that last semester I completed my undergraduate thesis on prehistory at Ferry Farm (available here), wrapped up my work in the Virtual Curation Laboratory, and accepted admission to the archaeology graduate program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  Before leaving VCU, I was given the great honor of speaking at my college graduation.  It was an amazing experience, and a perfect close to one incredible chapter of my life.

It was not, however, the finish line.

The next chapter began after taking the summer off to travel across Europe with my best friend and fellow archaeologist, Mariana Zechini.  Shortly after we returned, she headed south to attend graduate school in Florida, and I made my way north to begin my new life as a graduate student at IUP.

I will not lie, the first year of this program was harder than I ever imagined, and it tested me in ways I never thought it would.  The knowledge and experience I have taken from it, however, have been more than worth the struggle.  I took courses in zooarchaeology, historic preservation, laws and ethics, and cultural resource management.  I also worked as a graduate assistant in the historical archaeology laboratory, which led me to apply for a job as a field school supervisor at Historic Hanna’s Town this summer.  I got the job, and began work in July.

Me during my field school at Ferry Farm in 2012.

Me during my field school at Ferry Farm in 2012.

Before I go any further, want to first explain why getting this job was so exciting for me.  When I first started this blog, I was a sophomore anthropology major who was just about to begin a six week field school in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I had taken a total of two classes in archaeology, and thought that field school sounded like an interesting way to learn more about the subject.  May 21st, 2012 was my first day in the field, and from that morning on, I was sold.  I fell in love with archaeology the moment my shovel first hit the soil, and I have always looked back on my decision to attend field school that summer as one of the best and most influential choices I have ever made.

Field school opened up a whole new world to me, and with the help of a truly remarkable advisor at VCU, I was provided with numerous opportunities to succeed and grow as a student and a professional in the field.  I have always been grateful for the guidance and support I received throughout my undergraduate education, so when I was hired to supervise the field school at Hanna’s Town this summer, I viewed it as an opportunity to pay it forward.  This was a chance to pass on some of my knowledge and experience to undergraduate students like me, who had an interest in archaeology and who might find they have a passion for the field as well.  I also hoped that, as a graduate student, I might be in a position to help them pursue their interests beyond field school by helping them find further opportunities in the field and lab.

Historic Hanna's Town in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Historic Hanna’s Town in Western Pennsylvania.

The field school began on July 13th, 2015 at Historic Hanna’s Town, an 18th Century village and fort site in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  This site was first established in 1769, and is best known for having been the first British county seat west of the Allegheny Mountains.  The site is also known for the signing of the Hanna’s Town Resolves, which openly opposed British tyranny during the Revolutionary War.  The resolves were signed on May 16th, 1775, over a year before the Declaration of Independence.  Sadly, the town was destroyed in 1782 by a group of Seneca Indians and their British allies, leaving the once thriving community in ruins.  In the years that followed, Hanna’s Town was converted to farmland, and remained that way until the 20th Century.  Archaeological excavations at Hanna’s Town have been conducted since the 1970’s, and have resulted in the identification of a number of buildings and thousands of artifacts.  IUP began conducting a bi-annual field school at the site in 2011, and the results of their efforts have continued to aid in developing a better understanding of the overall organization of Hanna’s Town.

This year’s excavation was aimed at finding structures that once stood at the site.  No maps of Hanna’s Town during the 18th Century exist, so finding evidence of buildings is of great interest to researchers.  The location of our excavation was based on a ground-penetrating radar survey that was conducted two years ago, and appeared to have identified some square-shaped anomalies below the ground surface.  Our field school had 16 students who were all paired up to work on eight test units.  My professor and advisor, Dr. Ben Ford, directed the field school, while my friend and fellow graduate student, Cheryl, and I worked as the graduate student supervisors.  Our responsibilities were to oversee and instruct the students as they went through the excavation process.  I supervised the eight students working on the northern half of the site, and Cheryl supervised the students on the southern half.

Me and undergraduate student Eden excavating a unit at Hanna's Town.

Me and undergraduate student Eden excavating a unit at Hanna’s Town this summer.

The field school lasted five weeks, and I am certain I took away just as much from the experience as the students did.  I was very impressed by how quickly they all learned, and by the care and thoughtfulness they exhibited throughout the process.  I really enjoyed working with them, and I loved being able to teach them and answer questions they had about the various methods and the artifacts they were finding.

Unfortunately, we did not find the structural remains we were looking for this time, but it was a valuable learning experience nonetheless!

Field school has since ended and the school year has now begun.  It is incredible to think I am now in my second and FINAL year of graduate school, and so far I have managed to stay busy with work in the field and in the lab.  I started my assistantship again, and have been working on processing the artifacts found during the field school excavation.  Helping with these efforts are a few of my former students, who decided to volunteer with me this semester.  This made me very happy, and I am excited to continue working with them as the year progresses!  I also just began research for my thesis, and am currently working on a small archaeological project here in Indiana County, which I will post more about as our efforts continue this week.

All in all, it has been a crazy, busy, and wonderful year since I last posted, and I am looking forward to sharing more with you as this new semester continues!

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Approaching the Finish Line

After an unreasonably long absence, I feel I should begin this post with an apology for my lack of updates!  Between the end of the field season at Ferry Farm and the start of my final year at VCU, I have had very little time to sit down and write anything but papers.  Now that things have started to settle down, however, I hope to have a great deal more time to post.  I’ll begin by picking up where I left off, in the final weeks of last field season.

Though I had only one job last summer, I had more titles and responsibilities than I ever imagined I would in my first year as an archaeologist.  By the end of July, I was an excavation intern, crew chief, and teaching assistant for the 2013 VCU Field School, and all only a year after having participated in the field school myself.  I can honestly say my experience this summer was the most challenging, but rewarding I have had in my years as a college student.  I think I was most surprised by how much I loved the teaching aspect of my job, both in terms of public outreach and the field school.  I truly enjoyed being able to share my knowledge of the site and promote a better understanding of archaeology and our role as archaeologists at Ferry Farm to the various guests that would visit throughout the season, but I was most inspired by my work with the field school students.  Being able to share the methods and skills I have developed through my studies and experience was exciting, but I was particularly impressed by how well this group of students responded to my guidance and how incredibly hard they worked throughout their five weeks at the site.  Having the opportunity to share my love of this field and the work I do with students and the public is something I very highly value, and it is something I hope to continue doing for many years to come.

Following the conclusion of the field season, and a bittersweet farewell to the many friends I made at the site this year, I returned to Richmond to begin my last year as a student at Virginia Commonwealth University.  I also returned to my post in the Virtual Curation Laboratory, which recently received funding from a new Department of Defense Legacy Program grant.  I am now the Digital Curation Supervisor in the lab, which means that in addition to the usual scanning and editing of digital models, I now have the added responsibility of overseeing the work being done by other employees and interns, which has been a good experience thus far.

The most significant development in my academic and professional life, however, has been the long and strenuous process of applying to graduate schools – a process that ended today.  I plan to write a separate post going into greater detail about all I have done to reach this milestone, but for now I will keep it brief.  Last semester I began by taking the dreaded GRE, approaching my mentors to ask for their recommendations, refining my Curriculum Vitae, sending inquiry emails, and writing my first letter of intent – which is truly the most intimidating document I have ever written.  Then, on December 1st, I submitted my first application.

Today, I submitted the last.  After clicking that final “submit” button I was very quickly overcome with a flurry of emotions.  On one hand, a huge amount of stress has been lifted, and this great task that has occupied an enormous amount of my time for the past semester is finally complete…  But on the other hand, it is an utterly terrifying sensation to know that my future as a student and an archaeologist is now completely out of my hands.  I have been planning on going to graduate school since my first semester at VCU, and I have wanted to study archaeology since my first post on this blog – following my first day of field school at Ferry Farm.  I feel as though I have been running a marathon since that day, doing all I can to stay immersed and active in this field that I love, and now, in the final 14 weeks of my undergraduate education, and with no further obstacles, I am starting to see the finish line.  This is a tremendously frightening and unbelievably exciting time in my life, and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of this journey holds…  I plan to keep you all much more updated from here on out, so stay tuned!

New Finds in an Old Feature

Our 18th Century feature, shortly after discovering an extension to the left.

Our 18th Century feature, shortly after discovering an extension to the left.

Last month Katie and I began work on a feature that appeared to be an 18th Century cellar.  It was characterized by dark gray soil and extended through four 5×5 foot units.  We removed two quarters of it and discovered that it was fairly shallow, sloped in at the bottom, and had two layers – one dark gray with a high concentration of charcoal, and one reddish brown with a lot of plaster at the base.  The more we worked on it, the less it made sense, so after excavating the second quarter we decided to close it up and move on for a while until we had a chance to think about what we were excavating.  The week before last we finally decided to return to the feature to excavate a third quarter, but when I uncovered the units surrounding it, I was met with a surprise.

The day before I uncovered the feature the interns did a fresh scrape of the entire site, allowing us to see everything in the soil far more clearly than we could before.  This scrape included the area west of our feature, which was excavated in 2008.  We had not scraped this area before, as none of the notes from previous excavations ever mentioned anything significant there.  However, the moment I looked at our feature I could see what we all had missed.  There was clearly an extension of the feature into the two units to the west, characterized by the same dark soil and charcoal inclusions.  This changed our plans entirely.

Tin-glazed (left) and prehistoric (right) pottery.

Tin-glazed (left) and prehistoric (right) pottery.

We now had to re-map the feature, finish excavating the southwest quarter, and then proceed to excavate the southern part of the corner we discovered in the new units.  Katie began this process while I caught up on my TA duties, checking on the field school students and helping them with anything they needed.  I found it a bit challenging to split my focus between working with Katie on one end of the site and working with the students on the other, but after a while I managed to find a good balance!  In the process of completing the first part of our southwest quarter we found a fairly large piece of tin-glazed ceramic, a piece of prehistoric pottery, and our first straight pin in this feature!

My feature on a hot, but lovely day at Ferry Farm!

My feature on a hot, but lovely day at Ferry Farm!

Last Monday I returned to the feature without Katie, as she was on vacation.  It was the start of our hottest and most humid week of excavation so far – with temperatures ranging from the mid 90’s to low 100’s – and my feature was in a section of the site that was surrounded by black tarp in the center of two completely excavated areas, making it seem even hotter where I was!  I started excavating the last corner of our southwest quarter right away and immediately started noticing some differences between this small section and the rest of the feature.

Artifacts from the corner I excavated, including ceramics (center), glass (bottom left), straight pins (top left), burnt polished bone (top right), and nails (bottom right).

Artifacts from the corner I excavated, including ceramics (center), glass (bottom left), straight pins (top left), burnt polished bone (top right), and nails (bottom right).

The first major difference was that the soil did not change in color or consistency from the top of the feature to the bottom, whereas the rest of the feature had two distinct layers.  The second difference was the artifact inclusions.  I water screened all of the soil – as we do for all features – and found a few different types of ceramics, two straight pins, several nails, and a fair amount of bone.  This was very unusual for this feature, as the rest of it yielded only three pieces of tin-glazed ceramic, one straight pin, and a handful of bone total!  I enjoyed finding so many different artifacts, and was pleased that they all seemed to fit into the 18th Century time-frame that we had originally given the feature, but I was also confused by the extreme differences between this corner and everything else.  When I finally finished removing all of the dark soil from the corner I was left with a sloped edge that seemed to match those on the other sides – with the exception of an STP that was dug directly in the middle, which we excavated before re-opening the feature!

The last step was to draw the profile, which I finished on Thursday, after a delightful trip to Washington DC to visit the Smithsonian and hear City Archaeologist Dr. Ruth Trocolli talk about GIS and DC archaeology with the field school students on Wednesday.  After completing my work on the feature, we decided to close it up and save the rest for next year.  I am still not sure what to make of it all, which is a somewhat frustrating feeling, but I suppose this is a valuable lesson that archaeology doesn’t always come with clear answers.  I spent the rest of the week working with the students, who are now entering their last week of field school!  It seems to have flown by, but I have thoroughly enjoyed working with them and am extremely impressed by their skills and positive attitudes!  I look forward to working with them for this last week, which I suspect will be a great one – and much cooler too!

The southwest quarter of our feature, completely excavated!

The southwest quarter of our feature, completely excavated!

Monday at Mount Vernon

The VCU Field School crew at Mount Vernon

The VCU Field School crew at Mount Vernon

Last Monday I joined the field school students on a trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon in northern Virginia.  I have visited Mount Vernon several times over the past year, and each time I go I am reminded of why I love it.  The grounds are beautiful, the house tour is always different, and the education center offers a wonderfully dynamic alternative to the typical museum experience.

We began the day by receiving a tour of the lab from Director of Archaeology Dr. Esther White, who very generously took time from her day to speak with us.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the artifacts they had on display and in their storage facility, but my favorite part of the tour was the room in which they were repairing one of the windows from the estate.  Something about seeing this small piece of the house, which came from the “new room” and clearly showed evidence of old repairs, was incredibly fascinating to me!  After our tour of the lab, we headed out to the mansion to see their current excavation.

Karen discusses their excavation with students and visitors

Karen discusses their excavation with students and visitors

We were led by Deputy Director of Archaeology Eleanor Breen, and met by a familiar face in the field – Karen Price, our field school TA from Ferry Farm last year!  She is now the Historic Preservation Laboratory Manager at Mount Vernon.  They explained what they were looking for and discussed their methods and findings with us, which was very interesting in contrast to what we are doing at Ferry Farm.  They are currently looking for evidence of a kitchen that existed on the property when Lawrence Washington – George’s older half-brother – lived there.  It was very cool to hear about their work at Mount Vernon, and it was great to see Karen, who was incredibly kind and helpful, as usual!

After that we took some time to walk the grounds and explore the education center, then we purchased our souvenirs and headed home!  I had a great day at Mount Vernon, and I can’t wait until my next trip to the site!

A Very Festive Fourth at Ferry Farm

The 2013 VCU field school team, ready to work on the 4th of July!

The 2013 VCU field school team, ready to work on the 4th of July!

The Fourth of July at Ferry Farm is a fun, exciting, and evocative affair that I was very proud to be a part of this year.  Each year the George Washington Foundation hosts a celebration at the site that includes food, vendors, re-enactors, live music, fun activities, and (of course) archaeology!  I had never been to this event before, so I was very excited to get to work that morning to participate in the festivities!

We arrived early in the morning to open the site and get settled before the guests started to arrive, but unlike most mornings, we were joined by dozens of other staff members and volunteers who were rushing to get everything set up and ready!  Two people from the lab joined us in the field and set up a table near our excavation area with various artifacts that have been found there, while all of the field school students and Dr. Bernard Means – director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory and professor leading VCU’s field school – joined us in the field.  We were incredibly thankful for the extra help, especially as it was a school holiday and none of them were required to come in!  Shortly after we got the site open and began digging, the gates to Ferry Farm opened and the celebration officially began!

Interns and students screen with the public

Interns and students screen with the public

We were flooded with guests who made their way around the site and stopped at our excavation area to see what we were up to.  Many of them were interested in helping us screen the soil from our units, which is something our visitors are always welcome and encouraged to do!  The children were especially excited about getting their hands dirty… and there were A LOT of children!  The interns, the field school students, Dr. Means, our Site Directors Laura and Eric, and Director of Archaeology Dave Muraca all pitched in to speak with the public, screen with the children, and work on the site as the day progressed.  It was pretty chaotic at times, but a great deal of fun!

Me, Lauren, and Mariana pose with re-enactors in front of the Surveyor's Shed!

Me, Lauren, and Mariana pose with re-enactors in front of the Surveyor’s Shed!

During my lunch break, I took some time to explore the rest of the site and visit some of the vendors.  I especially enjoyed seeing all of the re-enactors, who had small “camps” set up all over Ferry Farm.  There was a blacksmith, some Revolutionary War soldiers, Civil War soldiers, and even our very own George Washington!  After lunch there was a flag retirement ceremony and shortly after that we got back to work!  Allen and I worked on our unit and simultaneously helped the field school students with theirs.  It was a very hectic day, but before I knew it things started to wind down and it was time to go home.

The Fourth of July at Ferry Farm was a very fun and exciting experience, but it also gave me a better appreciation for the significance of this site.  Ferry Farm is the boyhood home of George Washington, a man who risked everything to fight for what he believed in, and who – with incredible courage and leadership – ultimately led this nation to victory and freedom.  He is revered as our first president and the Father of Our Country – titles that he proudly carried when he traveled through the many sites where we now go to honor him… but this was not his identity at Ferry Farm.

Flag retirement ceremony at Ferry Farm

Flag retirement ceremony at Ferry Farm

Here, he was just a boy.  He was not a surveyor, a soldier, a general, or president.  He was the oldest of six children on a 600-acre farm, just outside of the growing city of Fredericksburg.  He lived with his widowed mother, who cared for her family as best she could with the limited resources they had.  It was here that he played as a child, he grew as an adolescent, and he learned as a teenager.  It was here that the Father of Our Country would develop the strong will and character that led him to become the man we all know and honor today – especially on days like Independence Day.

Ferry Farm is not as well-documented or understood as other Washington sites, but it played just as critical a role in his development as those that have been more thoroughly studied.  I feel incredibly fortunate and proud to be working at a site like this, and to have the opportunity to contribute to the story of Washington’s life and childhood through my work as an archaeologist!