Working with the Public

It’s hot.  It’s extraordinarily hot.  The hottest, and driest, summer in recent memory.  The students are aware of this, naturally, and yet they continue to dig.  

And talk.  Not only is it hot, and loud, but school kids and tourists and neighbors and rangers and curators and press and colleagues and just about everyone else in the area is dropping by to talk.  They all ask the same thing: “what have you found?”  Each day the answer changes.  The basic sentiment, however, never varies.  By experiencing archaeology first-hand, the students have found satisfaction.

Faculty at Indiana University South Bend are working this summer with students in two archaeology excavations, both with significant public components.  The properties (described below) are owned by public institutions, the public is invited to participate fully in the experience, and the results will be publicly and widely distributed.

In 1848, Havilah Beardsley and Rachel, his wife, built the first brick house in Elkhart, now known as the Havilah Beardsley House. The Beardsleys and their children would have an immense impact on the community and in some cases, well beyond. The house remains a part of the Elkhart community, serving as one of the museums on the Ruthmere campus.

Now within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Bailly Homestead contains the remains of the trading post established in 1822 by Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein (1774-1835). His home was an early center of culture and civilization in a backwoods wilderness, providing a meeting place for both Indians and whites as well as being a stopping place for travellers and missionaries.

For more perspectives on what archaeology means to the students, check out the following clips:

Sarah M – speaking about sharing

Bryan – pontificating about playing

Amanda – bragging about bones

Hannah – preaching about patience

Sarah K – discussing digging

Ron’s pamphlet about the program