FPAN’s Public Archaeology Interns at the University of West Florida’s Department of Anthropology have completed excellent research into archaeological topics with a focus on public outreach and community engagement. Check them out!
Irina Franklin Sorset
Maritime Heritage Trails as Public Outreach Tools: An Ethnographic Model for the Apalachicola River, Florida
With the infusion of ethnographic research into the development of the Apalachicola River Maritime Heritage Trail (ARMHT), this research provides an effective methodology for making the past relevant through public interpretation and heritage tourism. Maritime heritage trails allow for the interpretation of multiple archeological, historical, and natural resources, while social research into the study area and potential trail users addresses the needs of contemporary communities. Researching the historical context, identifying available heritage resources, and visually assessing potential trail sites provided the foundation for establishing the Apalachicola River's interpretation potential. Information from community observations, community participation, free listing, group interviews, and cultural informants illuminated public opinions and attitudes. Data from the focus group, pilot study, and the Apalachicola River Questionnaire (ARQ) established parameters for trail design, layout, interpretive content, and interpretive materials. By allowing ethnographic data to steer and guide each stage of the ARMHT model, this research was able to identify, adapt to, and address public wants and needs during the developmental stages. As demonstrated throughout this research, public interpretation of heritage resources that begins with community assessment creates the foundation for a successful and community-relevant heritage tourism product.
Public Education Component: Irina developed interpretive materials for cultural sites along the Apalachicola River, creating a ready-made Trail that can in future be hosted online or in print form.
Tara Giuliano Cole
Legend of the Field Stones in Old Bethel Cemetery: Using Archaeology to Explore Social Memory
This thesis examined how a legend from the area around Crestview, Florida, permeated local society and became a social memory. The legend suggests that after a Civil War skirmish on the Yellow River, soldiers who died were buried in a mass grave in Old Bethel Cemetery and some believe, marked with a circle of coarse sandstone field stones. To explore the relationship between the field stones and the social memory, as well as the relationship between the social memory and the physical site of the field stones, oral history interviews, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and test excavations were conducted during the summer and fall of 2011. Using these methods to explore social memory, the goals of the project were not to prove or disprove the historical accuracy of the legend of the field stones story, but to explore how memory is grounded in a community through objects and place, as well as how a community's social memory became a part of their heritage and identity.
Public Education Component: Tara led a cemetery preservation workshop at the Old Bethel Cemetery and delivered a series of presentations to the local community.
Back Home to Econfina: Maintenance of African American Memory and Landscape at the Gainer Historical Cemetery
The Gainer Historical/Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is located along the border of Washington and Bay Counties in Florida. An African American community has potentially utilized this out of the way space for ceremonial purposes since the arrival of settlers between 1824 and 1828. The cemetery remains an integral component in the cultural identity of the original population’s modern descendants. Even in its current incarnation, the cemetery contains evidence of the persistent use of old African-style customs, such as the utilization of traditional funerary material culture. Ground penetrating radar, interviews, and historical records indicate that the cemetery dates to a strong, family-focused post-bellum freedman community. The use of ceremonial graveside offerings from the cemetery’s past until today maintains a sense of community cohesion, history, and identity. The changing use and modern reincorporation of a ceremonial landscape by an African American community over time designates a strongly enforced habitus designed to reinforce an idea of community. The modern descendant community continues to replicate the community habitus and uses the information gathered for the project to promote their family’s story and sacred landscape to the broader Florida panhandle community.
Public Education Component: Melissa worked with the descendant family of the Gainer Cemetery to develop language for a sign and historical marker to be placed at the cemetery.
Nicole Bucchino Grinnan
Talking Smack: The Archaeology and History of Pensacola's Red Snapper Fishing Industry
Though human populations living along northwest Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast have long utilized locally abundant marine resources, the formation of a red snapper fishing industry in Pensacola, Florida, brought marine resource exploitation in the region to an unprecedented level in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Along with other industries, commercial red snapper fishing in Pensacola underwent significant growth during this period and helped shape the port city’s new importance as a cosmopolitan, southern economic center. Utilizing a historical ecological approach, this thesis provides a multidisciplinary analysis of commercial fishing culture, commercial fishing vessels, and the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery to explore the dynamic relationship the industry held with the local environment. Additionally, archaeological and historical evidence provides the basis for a model describing the structural and material characteristics of potential Pensacola commercial red snapper fishing shipwrecks in the region.
Public Education Component: Nicole developed a traveling exhibit on the history and archaeology of northwest Florida’s red snapper fishing industry.
Overwhelmed With Possibilities: A Model for Urban Heritage Tourism Development
The city of Pensacola, FL, has been attempting to create a heritage tourism industry for half a century but has never achieved the same level of success of some of the most notable destinations they were trying to emulate. This is, in part, due to a significant level of development in the historic district, much of which is now historic as well, combined with an impressively complex history concentrated in a relatively small area. If Pensacola, and any community in a similar situation, is to develop an effective heritage tourism program then a well-organized plan is needed. This paper presents a model, along with the most basic level of information required, for the development of an interpretive program in Downtown Pensacola which aims to provide the best possible results for the community, the tourist, and the archaeological resources.
Public Education Component: Tristan’s interpretive plan for downtown Pensacola is helping to inform future heritage tourism strategies.
FPAN also provides occasional support for other graduate thesis research relevant to our mission at all of our host institutions:
Jana J. Futch
2011, University of South Florida
Historical Archaeology of the Pine Level Site (8DE14), DeSoto County, Florida
In 1866 the seat of Manatee County was moved to Pine Level, a newly-formed town in the wilderness of south Florida. By the 1880s, it contained stores, boardinghouses, churches, and government buildings. In 1887, Pine Level became DeSoto County’s first seat. However, when it lost county seat status to Arcadia only 18 months later, in 1888, Pine Level rapidly declined in population and importance, and eventually died out. The investigations of the Pine Level site detailed in this thesis were carried out as a public archaeology project, involving the DeSoto County Historical Society, University of South Florida, and the Florida Public Archaeology Network West Central Region. As a public archaeology project, one central goal of this work was to involve the local community in the fieldwork and ongoing research. The efforts of community volunteers, along with graduate and undergraduate students, were critical to several phases of this project, which is presented in this thesis. The second goal of the project was to learn as much as possible about the little-studied site of Pine Level and its inhabitants, and to contextualize its founding, growth, and downfall within the development of the south Florida region. Specifically, one goal was to learn more about the people who moved to this rural town, including their ethnicity, social status, livelihoods, and political outlook. The second research question was discovering how Pine Level had been spatially organized, whether this layout had changed over time, and what this spatial patterning could reveal about the town’s function within greater south Florida.The research presented in this thesis shows that Pine Level was the creation of a Republican politician, and that it functioned as an enclave of Republican power during the Reconstruction era. During this time, Pine Level’s growth was sluggish, and it remained unpopular with many citizens in Manatee County. It consisted of a few government buildings in the center of the town, but little else. However, with the fall of the Manatee County Republicans in 1876, Pine Level suddenly began to prosper, adding many new landowners and businesses. A distinct business district developed, and areas of the town near the major roads garnered particularly high prices. Artifact analysis shows that the income level of these newcomers was probably modest, but that they had access to consumer goods from across the United States and as far away as England. The town’s prosperity was short-lived, though. As detailed in this thesis, once Pine Level lost county seat status, it immediately began to decline, and businesses quickly moved to Arcadia. The town continued on as a small community through at least the first decade of the twentieth century, but eventually became a nothing more than a spot on a map.
Public Education Component: Involving the local community in fieldwork and ongoing research.
2011, University of South Florida
An Archaeological and Archival Appraisal of "Spanish Indians" on the West Coast of Florida in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Spanish Indian is a generic term that has been used repeatedly in written documents over the past three centuries to describe a range of different social, ethnic, and economic groups in the southeastern United States. In this thesis, a comparative analysis of the material culture from Cuban fishing ranchos of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on the west coast of Florida addresses the ways in which specific Spanish Indian artifact assemblages fit into the archaeological record. Three archaeological assemblages from known rancho sites are detailed and analyzed. In addition, this thesis details a public archaeology project undertaken in conjunction with the Florida Public Archaeology Network, which led to the development of a traveling exhibit and public presentation on the origins of local place names. The thesis also provides suggestions for how historical archaeologists might contend with difficulties in determining and documenting identity at early historical sites in coastal Florida. The research undertaken for this thesis demonstrates a pressing need for additional data collection and research in the field. As it currently stands, however, the preliminary analysis conducted in this thesis indicates an economic basis for cultural interaction and intermarriage rather than an actual cultural synthesis, creolization, or ethnogenesis, which would imply shared cultural systems of belief and meaning. This thesis is also a proposal for a typology of ranchos. Through a cross-comparison of the similarities and differences in subsistence strategies and labor practices, a research design for rancho archaeology is outlined.
Public Education Component: Development of a traveling exhibit and public presentation on the origins of local place names.
Charles Brian Mabelitini
2012, University of West Florida
The Hammock Landing Battery and the Confederate Defenses of the Apalachicola River, Florida
This historical and archaeological research assesses the construction methods and geographical placement of the Hammock Landing Battery (8LI334) in Liberty County, Florida. Landscape data and terrain analysis demonstrate the location of the battery conferred a tactical advantage to the Confederate military. Constructed during the summer of 1863, the Hammock Landing Battery mounted six heavy guns served by three powder magazines and was one component in the line of defense to prevent Federal blockading vessels from reaching the important industrial complex of Columbus, Georgia. Archaeological investigations allowed a comparison of its construction techniques with period engineering manuals. Although many of the dimensions of the excavated structural features differ from the archetype presented in contemporaneous manuals, they exhibit similar characteristics. Artifacts recovered from the site also shed light on the labor exerted during construction of the earthworks, as well as the types of ordnance stores available to Confederate troops in northern Florida.
Public Education Component: Brian developed and installed interpretive wayside signs at Torreya State Park, where the Hammock Landing Battery is located.
Matthew P. Rooney
2014 (Honors Undergrad), University of South Florida
Poverty in Ybor City: The Decreasing Living Standards of Ybor City’s Working Class During the Early Twentieth Century
Ybor City is well known as an historical metropolis that brimmed with a unique and rich cultural heritage fermented amongst various Latin communities transplanted from both the Caribbean and southern Europe. Ybor City’s historiography includes many works that focus on the different ethnic groups who built the well known cigar manufacturing hub, but inadequate focus has been placed on larger economic questions and the apparent social stratification that increasingly lowered the standards of the city’s working class. By relying on Marxist theories about the nature of capitalism and the increasing exploitation of workers necessary for its survival, this archaeological study examines the living spaces actually occupied by cigar workers to demonstrate how impoverished Ybor City’s working class became as time progressed. If capitalism produces the conditions for its own downfall, so would the cigar manufacturing industry of Ybor City sow its own defeat, as its fortunes plunged alongside the living conditions of its working class. This study uses geographic information systems technology to georeference and allow measurement of historic maps of Ybor City and its buildings, visually illustrating how much space was available to its working class families. A correlation of this data with information found in contemporary city directories reveals a decrease over time in the average living space of actual working families. This type of study is especially pertinent today as the same economic force is impoverishing ever increasing numbers of working class families, dooming them to live in socially unacceptable conditions.
Public Education Component: Public displays of archaeological materials in the Ybor City State Museum.
Benjamin Charles Wells
2015, University of West Florida
A Light in the Dark: Illuminating the Maritime Past of the Blackwater River
With its headwaters in Alabama and terminus in Blackwater Bay, the Blackwater River is the major river of Santa Rosa County, Florida. For centuries this river has played an integral role in the development of northwest Florida as the primary avenue for transporting resources, goods, and people in and out of the interior of this area. In 2013 the Bagdad Waterfronts Florida Partnership, Inc., contacted Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) Northwest Region office seeking assistance in developing a heritage outreach program distinct to and representative of the local waterfront communities. Utilizing maritime landscape theory, a maritime heritage trail was envisioned to present the river’s cultural resources, both on land and underwater. The focus of this master’s thesis research, the Blackwater Maritime Heritage Trail encompasses a 4.1 mile (6.60 km, 3.56 nm) stretch of the river, promotes local heritage, and lays a framework for future trail development and expansion.
Public Education Component: Ben's entire thesis had a public focus and the Blackwater River Maritime Heritage Trail will be a popular and informative heritage tourism attraction for Santa Rosa County for years to come.