Meet a Member: Laura Seifert

Here’s the latest in our series of entertaining interviews with a diverse array of your fellow SHA members. Meet a member for the first time or learn something about a colleague that you never knew before. This blog series also offers current members an opportunity to share their thoughts on why SHA membership is important (Camaraderie? Professional service? Exchange of ideas in conference rooms and beyond? You tell us!). If you would like to be an interviewee, please email the Membership Committee Social Media Liaisons Eleanor Breen (ebreen@mountvernon.org) or Kim Pyszka (kpyszka@aum.edu).

An Interview with Laura Seifert, Co-director of the Digging Savannah project and Instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice, Social and Political Science at Armstrong Atlantic State University.

What’s the most interesting artifact you’ve ever found?

If I had to pick a single artifact, my favorite would be the small, brass key I found at the St. Johns site in Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland. It was shorter than the length of my finger and perfectly preserved, with a beautifully intricate, teardrop shaped handle.

What is the first site you worked on? What is the last one (or current one)?

The first site I worked on was at the Harriet Tubman house. It was a domestic site, but I don’t remember any specifics. The dig was a day field trip with my Introduction to Historical Archaeology class at Syracuse University.  The last site I worked on was at Old Fort Jackson in Savannah, GA. We were investigating the dome-shaped, soil-over-concrete top of the 1870s powder magazine, which proved to be very complicated logistically. (How to get the dirt into the screen? It was messy.) We had amazing views of the river all the way to downtown Savannah, however it was absolutely freezing (for Savannah).

Fieldwork or labwork?

Fieldwork. Duh.

If you could go back in time for only 10 seconds – where, when, and why?

The western wall of George Washington’s whiskey distillery shortly after its construction: I spent nine months excavating a tiny addition to the building. What was it? The malt kiln?

What are you currently reading?

“On the Rim of the Caribbean: Colonial Georgia and the British Atlantic World” by Paul M. Pressly and thanks to my favorite thrift store, I finally jumped on the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon.

Why are you a member of SHA?

I am a member of SHA for the journal, online access to back issues of the journal, and conferences. I also value the outreach and lobbying we do as an organization (National Geographic, anyone?).  The SHA website is also getting to be an incredible resource with Bill Lindsey’s Historic Bottle Identification Guide and other specialized artifact guides coming online.

At what point in your career did you first join SHA?

When I graduated with my BA in December 2000.

How many years have you been a member (approximately)?

Doing the math, 14 years, but I think I missed a few along the way.

Which benefit of belonging to SHA do you find the most beneficial?

The journal, website, and the publications explorer online, because I rarely get to go to conferences any more, and 2015 is not looking good either!

Please join us for #SHA2016!

Did you enjoy #SHA2015? Please join us for #SHA2016!

The Organizing Committee for the #SHA2016 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology invites you to Washington, D.C., the Nation’s Capital, January 6-9, 2016! The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service in 1916 and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Historical Preservation Act of 1966.  Because of the synchronicity of these events, and the conference location, #SHA2016 will focus on the past development and future prospects of Historical Archaeology.  The #SHA2016 theme, “A Call to Action: the Past and Future of Historical Archaeology”, encourages us to consider the impact of the NPS and NHPA on the practice of Historical Archaeology.

Washington, D.C. represents both the Federal City and the District of Columbia, providing an exciting, dynamic environment. Washington, D.C. is not only home to policy movers and shakers, but offers rich local and national histories, long preserved and made accessible by its numerous museums and institutions. In recent years, Washington, D.C. has undergone transformations that have highlighted the culturally diverse neighborhoods that make up the city, for instance, the new and flavorful restaurants, bars, and local markets. We hope to see you at #SHA2016, to reflect on how far Historical Archaeology has come, since the early 20th century!

Help Celebrate Our Past: Work with the SHA History Committee

Did you know the SHA turns 50 in January 2017?

Members of the SHA’s History Committee are very excited about this landmark anniversary, as it is our responsibility to document and share the history of the SHA. In the past, we have done this primarily by recording and publishing oral histories of past SHA presidents, Harrington Award recipients, and other significant contributors to the society and discipline. We continue to fulfill this important responsibility. But we are also buzzing with ideas of how to share more of the SHA’s history in celebration of the society’s upcoming 50th anniversary. The possibilities and opportunities are virtually endless, but we need interested and enthusiastic individuals to help us envision and implement them.

For example, we recognize the great potential of social media to share the fascinating history of the SHA and promote the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. But we need an able and willing individual to serve as our liaison with the Social Media Committee – someone who can represent the History Committee’s interests and coordinate our social media efforts.

Other ideas for how the SHA’s history can be shared and celebrated include:
• Working with the society’s publications team to create a special publication on the history of the SHA for the society’s 50th anniversary. This volume would include previously published oral histories, as well as papers and articles that specifically discuss the history of the SHA and the discipline. Ideally, this special anniversary publication would be paired with, and promoted by, a celebratory session at the 2017 conference in Dallas, Texas (see below).
• Hosting and organizing a special session at the 2017 conference. Speakers for this session would highlight the history and future of the society and the discipline.
• Working with the National Anthropological Archives, where the SHA archives are stored, to curate a small exhibit of significant SHA documents and artifacts for display at the 2017 conference.
Collecting “mini” oral histories from those attending the 2015 and 2016 conferences and sharing these as part of celebratory events at the 2017 conference.

If you want to be involved in these and other exciting endeavors to celebrate the SHA’s history for the upcoming 50th anniversary, we invite you to attend this year’s History Committee meeting. The meeting will be held at 12:00 noon on Saturday, January 10 in the Kirkland Room (3rd floor of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel).

Please come and participate in the exciting work of the History Committee. Together we can experience “history-in-the-making” as we document and share the significant history of the SHA and celebrate the society’s 50th anniversary.

If you have additional ideas, suggestions, or questions, please contact Ben Pykles, chair of the History Committee, at pykles@gmail.com.