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Digging it: President Wilson’s birthplace hosts archaeology field school with JMU

Photos courtesy of WWPL.

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library is hosting a James Madison University archaeology field school through June 24.

Students, researchers and history enthusiasts are delving into the rich, cultural heritage preserved within the museum’s historic gardens.

“We are delighted to host this exciting archaeology field school,” Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library President and CEO Robin von Seldeneck said. “Previous excavations show that the historic gardens hold a wealth of untold stories, and this collaboration provides a platform for students to contribute to our understanding of the past. This research will guide us as we learn more about the people, including the enslaved individuals who lived and worked in the house, and we are committed to incorporating what we learn into every aspect of our site interpretation.

Within the presidential library grounds, the historic gardens are the ideal setting for the field school because they are home to a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts and remnants that pre-date the 1846 birthplace home. Students will engage in immersive excavations, artifact analysis, cataloging and preservation methods under the guidance of archaeologist Dr. Dennis Blanton. They will learn archaeological research methodologies from Blanton, who has worked with WWPL since 2018.

Members of the public are encouraged to witness archaeology up close, and observe the excavations, interact with the students and archaeologists, and learn about the historical significance of the discoveries. Regular tours and educational sessions are planned to ensure a dynamic experience for all museum visitors.  WWPL welcomes volunteers for the tours and educational sessions.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.