As a recent archaeology grad stuck in the never ending search for my first job, I’ve been on a mission to refine my resume by volunteering with local archaeology projects. I came across the Herring Run Archaeology Project on Facebook a few weeks ago and jumped at the opportunity to get involved. I am so glad that I did.
Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer started the Herring Run Archaeology Project in 2014, with the mission of connecting people with the past through archaeological discovery. Over the last three years, they have been working with groups of volunteers and students in Herring Run Park in Northeast Baltimore,
excavating the remains of the Eutaw Manor House and Farm, a residence of the Smith and Hall families in the 18th and 19th centuries. Last year, they also identified the likely residence of John Broad, a former indentured servant and one of the earliest European residents of the Baltimore area. This site dates from about 1680 to 1740, and is the oldest historical site in the city.
The project offers volunteer opportunities for their ten-day field season each spring, and lab work in the fall, winter, and spring. The project is open to people with all levels of experience.
While they only needed volunteers to label artifacts excavated last spring (before they begin this year’s excavation), I and the other volunteers were able to see the variety of artifacts uncovered at Herring Run. As we labeled pot sherds, bits of brick, and broken glass, we also discussed each of our backgrounds and why we chose to volunteer with the project. From PhD
and master’s students to archaeology enthusiasts, we all came to volunteer because we care about our local history and want to be involved with is discovery and preservation. We were a group of strangers who, because of our shared interest in archaeology, came together to learn from one another.
The project is small, and runs entirely on volunteer efforts, but has already started to change the way people think about both the park and the community, and about the importance of Baltimore’s archaeological heritage. The city’s parks likely contain hundreds of important sites like the Eutaw Manor House and Farm, or John Broad’s early colonial settlement, but there has been no serious effort, to date, to explore and document those resources. The Herring Run Archaeology project hopes to foster an interest in the study and protection of all of Baltimore’s archaeological resources, and to involve the public in the study of the past.
For more information about the Herring Run Archaeology Project and how to volunteer, please visit https://herringrunarchaeology.org/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author: Sophie Lange is an intern at AITC and a recent graduate of Durham University where she received a MA in International Cultural Heritage Management. Sophie currently works for a government contractor on an immigration project, but she tries to get involved with as many local archaeology projects as possible. That way, she can keep her archaeology skills as sharp as her Marshalltown trowel.