Looking Back and Thinking Forward


Looking Back and Thinking Forward



Read what former students had to say about their experiences at the HSMC Historical Archaeology
Field School…



The HSMC field school launched my now 23-year career in archaeology, first as a student and then as a teaching assistant. It remains among my fondest memories of my college years, and I regularly rely on skills and knowledge that I first acquired there. The expert faculty did a wonderful job of teaching me what I needed to know to start my life as an archaeologist. To this day, when I approach an archaeological problem, I start by thinking: “The St. Mary’s way is the right way.”

David Gadsby, Ph.D.
Archaeologist, National Park Service
HSMC Field School Class of 1994

I wanted to be an archaeologist and Dr. Garry Wheeler Stone told me that…Historic St. Mary’s City was the only place where I should do my field school. The experience I gained there was amazing and, having been a part of numerous other field schools, I can honestly say none will prepare you better for a career in archaeology. I also spent my four years at HSMC volunteering in the archaeology lab obtaining invaluable hands on experience that still serves me every day.

Michelle Sivilich, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Gulf Archaeology Research Institute
HSMC Field School Class of 2000

[The St. Mary’s City program] marked a turning point in my career for it introduced me to teaching through historic sites and inspired me to become engaged in historic preservation…. it turned my career from classroom teaching to teaching via museums and historic sites.

George McDaniel, Ph.D.
Director Emeritus, Drayton Hall Plantation
HSMC Field School Class of 1974

I… had one of the most exciting summers that one could possibly have. You learn why the past matters to the present and the future through 10 weeks of hands-on history. If it weren’t for my HSMC experience, I might not be pursuing archaeology as a career.

Katherine Boyle
Graduate Student of Applied Anthropology and Historic Preservation, University of Maryland
HSMC Field School Class of 2013

The summer field school was a life-changing experience! The historical research and analysis skills I gained became fundamental to my professional pursuits. In addition to working in the field and in the lab, I took on a special project on clothing and textiles, deciphering 17th-century wills and estate inventories. Being able to place St. Mary’s City in the context of colonial social history helped me build transferable proficiencies across other periods of American history, up to the 21st century. You don’t need to be planning a career in archaeology to reap enormous benefit from this program!

Sally Sims Stokes, M.A., M.S.
Academic Director, CUA-LIS Art and Museum Libraries Institute
HSMC Field School Class of 1974

It was the beginning of my life as a professional archaeologist. The richness of the site and enthusiasm of the staff were instrumental in inspiring me to pursue a career in the field.

Jennie Cosham
Archaeological Registrar/GIS Technician, Maryland Historical Trust
HSMC Field School Class of 1989

Realizing that at the bottom of each excavation pit was soil that had been tread upon by seventeenth-century colonists was the most invigorating moment of my Historic St. Mary’s Field School experience because, at that moment, the past almost completely surrounded me and I truly loved it. After the field school, I knew [my future goal of] studying India using an interdisciplinary approach—history, archaeology, and religion—would be life-changing and that I would love every minute of it.

Sabrina Wandres
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Class of 2017
HSMC Field School Class of 2016

My field school experience opened my eyes to the powerful ability material objects have to convey stories from the past. My previous history studies had all been conducted through documents and images. Learning to recognize and date ceramic and glass shards and begin to make assumptions about the people who left these objects behind truly brought the past to life. It is through broken objects dug up from St. Mary’s dark yellow clay that I developed a love of using things to help people learn about the past.

Illene Frank, M.A.
Chief Curator, Connecticut Historical Society
HSMC Field School Class of 1994

While archaeology was always my path, having a chance to work on such an extraordinary 17th-century site made it clear to me that this was the period and material culture that I was truly passionate about.

Aaron F. Miller, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Visual and Material Culture, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum
HSMC Field School Class of 2001

[The] St. Mary’s Field School was, and is, a place where students, advocates, and professionals come together to learn and enrich our understanding of our past. My choice to attend was, by far, the best decision in my life, as it provided the skills, experience, and confidence to enter the profession. More importantly, my St. Mary’s experience was why I was hired by a contract firm of archaeologists, historians, and forensic professionals! On a personal level, the friendships that grew from the experience have lasted my lifetime—friends that share the passion for archeology, anthropology, and history.

Douglas Crawford
HSMC Field School Class of 1981

The field school has helped me fully understand and appreciate the archaeological process, as well as give me the tools and skills necessary to further pursue my career in archaeology.

August Rowell
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Class of 2018
HSMC Field School Class of 2016