A Day in the Programs Department at the Archaeological Institute of America

My name is Meredith Langlitz and I am the Senior Programs Coordinator at the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).

AIA Headquarters is located under the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, Boston.

AIA Headquarters is located under the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, Boston. Photo Credit: historygradguy (jobhunting) cc

This morning when I arrived at AIA headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, I caught up on several e-mails, mostly related to International Archaeology Day (IAD). I was especially happy to receive confirmations that the Archaeology Museum at the University of South Alabama, the Traveling Museum of Oregon Prehistory, and the Great Basin Anthropological Association would be returning as IAD Collaborating Organizations this year and that the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa will be collaborating with us and hosting an IAD event for the first time this year. IAD, held each year on the third Saturday of October, has grown into a very successful event in the past few years—last year we had over 75,000 people participate in more than 350 events around the world. Right now we are making a big push to get everyone signed up again and to recruit new events (if you know someone that might be interested in hosting or attending an event you can quickly and easily send them an email invitation here).

IADLogo2014-with date-WIDE v2

At 10am I had a brief phone call with Ethan Watrall who is organizing a “Current Practice in Digital Public & Community Archaeology” session for the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) meeting in San Francisco next April.  I am currently the chair of the SAA’s Public Archaeology Interest Group (if you are interested in the PAIG’s work, join our Facebook group) and when I sent a google form to the group’s 1,100 members a few weeks ago to gauge what session topics people were most interested in seeing at the meeting, responses were overwhelmingly in favor of a session about digital initiatives for sharing archaeology with the public. Earlier this week I was happy to find out that Ethan was already organizing such a session. I had a great conversation with Ethan about his session plans and I cannot wait to attend next year.

My other meeting this morning was with some of my colleagues here at AIA headquarters. Four of us got together to figure out the logistics for a working conference about the future of archaeological outreach and education that the AIA plans to host in New Orleans January 9-10, 2015. The meeting today was about practical matters such as how we will run registration, how to make our discounted hotel rates available to attendees, signage and AV needs, staffing, budgets, and more. I am very excited about the conversations and outcomes that will result from this meeting (if you are interested in updates about the meeting, be sure to subscribe to our AIA Outreach and Education Google group)!

Archaeo-Madness will kick off on September 2nd with Chaco Canyon vs. Angkor Wat. Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers cc

Just before lunch, I sat with AIA Director of Programs Ben Thomas to review the plans for Archaeo-Madness—an online activity we are planning as part of IAD 2014. While IAD is mostly about physical events, we also include some virtual participation opportunities to get people excited about IAD and to make the event truly universal. In past years, we have made some fun online scavenger hunts and this year we are planning to count down to IAD with an Archaeo-Madness activity. Styled after March Madness, where people try to predict each outcome of the U.S. NCAA college basketball bracket-style tournaments, Archaeo-Madness will pit 32 archaeological sites against one another and allow website visitors to vote for their favorite sites in a series of “head to heads” (spoiler alert: Archaeo-Madness will kick off on September 2nd with Chaco Canyon vs. Angkor Wat—the full schedule will be released in August).

The 2014 calendar

In the afternoon I reviewed a draft of the 2015 A Year of Archaeology calendar we are preparing as a fundraiser for the AIA’s Site Preservation Program. The calendar includes outstanding photos that were submitted as part of the previous year’s AIA photo contest and helps raise badly needed funds for our Site Preservation grants and best practices award. I love the photos we are using and I look forward to hanging the calendar above my desk come January.

Next, I worked on an exciting promotion for new AIA student members that we plan to roll out this fall. The AIA is a membership organization celebrating its 135th anniversary this year. Our members, both professionals and lay people, share a common bond in their passion for archaeology and are organized into 115 local societies around the world. While we won’t quite be able to offer the $10 rate the Institute started with in 1879, the one day membership sale we are planning for this fall will showcase a pretty spectacular rate.

At the end of the day, I corresponded with a few AIA Local Society officers—sending out membership brochures and reading over a report about an education project recently completed by the AIA-Houston Society with support from an AIA Society Outreach Grant. The Texas Archaeology Residency initiative brought a series of six educational events on the prehistory and archaeology of Texas to underserved elementary and middle school students in the Houston area. It was great to end the day reading about the Houston Society’s accomplishments and scroll through the photos of happy children engaged in learning about archaeology!

After work, I squeezed just a little more archaeology into my day. I am currently a graduate student at Boston University completing an MA in Archaeological Heritage Management. This fall is my last semester so right now I am working on my MA report. The report is the culmination of a semester long project at a heritage institution—because I work at the AIA, I was able to use one of my work projects (a proposal to create a Youth Membership program). In the background section of my report, I talk about the history of outreach at the AIA, so lately I have been combing through old AIA annual bulletins to take stock of the Institute’s different outreach initiatives over the years. Tonight I worked through the 1960s and it was kind of amusing to read about all of the technology issues in the headquarters office with addressographs and typewriters.   I started with some of the more recent years before diving back in time, so I am now nearly done with my section about the history of outreach at the AIA.  I hope to complete a full draft of my MA report in the next few weeks.

There are always so many different things to do in a #dayofarch and I can’t wait for the next one!