Jeffersonian Publishing Plant

Historical Archaeology with Teens

Greetings from Thomson, Georgia, USA!


We are thrilled to be participating in a Day of Archaeology! I am the Curator and Archaeologist of Hickory Hill, a historic site near Augusta, Georgia. On our 256 acres we have many archaeological sites. The one we have been working on since the summer of 2005 is the Jeffersonian Publishing Plant. All of the work is done by teenagers.

In 1910, populist statesman Thomas Edward Watson constructed a large brick building on the grounds of his home where he published a weekly newspaper, a monthly magazine (with a readership of about 30,000 people), books, and pamphlets. The building was quite large with 3 printing presses, 2 linotype machines, and 30 employees! Unfortunately, in the 1920s the structure burned and the remainder was torn down.


Since 2005, we have been excavating at the site, now designated 9MF914, with our summer archaeology camp. This is a day camp for kids age 11 to 18 who are interested in participating in real archaeology — no seeded sand pits here.

The campers are trained in proper techniques as well as site preservation, mapping, and other necessary skills (Law of Superposition anyone). They spend the week excavating, screening, cleaning, and cataloging as any professionals would — and come back year after year to participate — not bad for rusty nails, bricks, and window glass. Who says kids are only interested in video games?!

This summer our junior archaeologists uncovered a cache of discarded ink rollers. They were terribly excited and did a fantastic job recovering the artifacts. The kids couldn’t wait to clean them.  Among their other finds are are remnants of equipment, bricks, every sort of rusty nail, and lots and lots of window glass!

They”ll be back next year.   So will we!  Keep digging!