Artifacts Open Amazing Glimpse of the Future

CSM, Jefferson Patterson Park Partner to Provide Active Learning Experiences

Active learning will be given new meaning as students at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) look into the past in order to see a glimpse of their future. Through a community partnership, CSM and Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM) of the Maryland Historical Trust will share expertise and resources to expand cultural, educational, research and career advancement opportunities. JPPM staff will work with CSM faculty to serve as mentors and sponsors of internships, as well as be available to teach courses at the college.

“Jefferson Patterson Park and the Maryland Archeological Conservation Lab are two wonderful Southern Maryland resources. It makes sense to work collaboratively with them to provide enhanced educational experiences for our students and launch joint academic programming that emphasizes the strengths that each of us brings to the partnership. There are many ways that we can interact to the betterment of Southern Maryland citizens and I look forward to working with them to explore these additional avenues,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried.

“This is a great place to bring students,” said JPPM Executive Director Michael A. Smolek. “Artifacts can have a tremendous impact on our current lives. It opens students’ eyes to the possibilities available in history careers. In addition to opportunities in history and archaeology, this partnership will provide students the chance to gain first-hand experience in museum education, exhibit development and many other aspects of the museum business.”

Home to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory, JPPM is an archaeology and history museum located on 560 scenic acres along the Patuxent River and the St. Leonard Creek in Calvert County. JPPM archaeologists have identified more than 70 sites spanning 9,000 years of human history, including that of Native Americans, plantation owners, tenants, free and enslaved Africans, and indentured servants.

A storehouse for seven million artifacts from throughout Maryland, the MAC lab prepares and stabilizes artifacts for future research. Collections include Native American stone artifacts dating as early as about 10,000 BC and pottery from as early as 1000 BC. There are ceramics from the 1600s used by early Americans including items from England, Germany and elsewhere, hand tools as well as two 18-pounder cannons dating to 1798 from the USS Constellation which is being conserved for the U.S. Navy. One unusual project currently underway is the stabilization of a dugout canoe dating from about 210 AD.

“We want to teach students how to develop a research or archaeology project including how to work hands-on in a conservation laboratory, how to work with and handle different materials, how to date them and protect them,” said MAC Lab Director Patricia Samford. “We want to work with students and help them figure out their areas of interests and teach them how to tailor their work experience here in the labs into their future career goals.”

During a recent tour of the MAC lab, conservators Kenya Brown and Caitlin Shaffer demonstrated the types of work in which CSM students could be involved. As Brown and Shaffer worked on piecing together and identifying pottery for a project for Juvenile Justice in Baltimore, Samford explained, “Students interested in materials science or conservation have the opportunity to learn hands-on from working conservators on real projects. Students can work with conservators working on pottery, web-based science and environmental projects, materials and chemical-based activities.”

With 34 of its more important collections available online, JPPM finds it is constantly upgrading its technology. “Research projects generate tons of paperwork,” Samford said. “Every new technology demands that the entire collection be transferred to make it available to all.” She added that JPPM is currently expanding its web-based diagnostic tool which allows researchers from all over the world to identify pottery shards.

““It’s exciting knowing that our students will be able to experience history first-hand, and would be working with good, dedicated people who are not only serving the field of history but the community and state of Maryland as well as the entire United States,” said CSM Associate Professor Chretien Guidry, who is eager to include JPPM as a resource for his history classes. “This partnership will prove useful to many departments as much of the work done by Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum involves other subject areas such as the sciences with lab work and technology as they are eagerly looking for assistance in cataloging their massive collection. This can potentially open our students’ minds to what is out there for them, and what they are capable of doing.”

He added, “It’s amazing what treasures you find that you never knew existed. It makes you wonder what there is to still be discovered.”

For information about JPPM and its upcoming programs and events, visit www.jefpat.org. For information about CSM, visit www.csmd.edu.

Sidebar:

Dig into Hands-on History at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

Upcoming activities at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum include:

Public Archaeology: Assist JPPM archaeologists in the field and in the lab as they continue excavation of the 18th-century plantation complex, Smith’s St. Leonard Site. No experience is necessary, and there is no fee. The program runs Tuesdays through Saturdays through July 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays are Lab Days, when participants process artifacts recovered from the site in the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory at JPPM. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are Field Days for excavating the Smith’s St. Leonard Site, weather-permitting. To volunteer or for information, contact Ed Chaney, 410-586-8554 or echaney@mdp.state.md.us.

MAC Lab Open Houses: Tour the Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory on June 25, July 25, Aug. 12, Sept. 15, Oct. 31, Nov 19 or Dec. 11. Free tours are available at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.


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The College of Southern Maryland and Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum of the Maryland Historical Trust have established a memorandum of understanding to share each other’s expertise and resources. Students will have access to diverse and high quality educational and research resources as well as career advancement opportunities including internships, assistantships and employment opportunities. Participating in the official signing of the community partnership were front from left JPPM Executive Director Michael Smolek and CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried, and rear from left, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab Director Patricia Samford, CSM Vice President and Prince Frederick Dean Charlene Newkirk and CSM Associate Professor Chretian Guidry.

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Conservator Kenya Brown demonstrates the type of stabilization work in which CSM students could be involved at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab. A storehouse for seven million artifacts from throughout Maryland, the United States and abroad, the MAC lab stabilizes artifacts for future research.

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MAC Lab Director Patricia Samford explains the types of collections held at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, including pottery dating as early as the 1600s as well as an 18-pounder cannon dating to 1798 from the USS Constellation being conserved for the Navy. From left are CSM Vice President and Prince Frederick Dean Charlene Newkirk, CSM Associate Professor Chretian Guidry, CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried, Samford, JPPM Executive Director Michael Smolek and Conservator Caitlin Shaffer.

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JPPM Executive Mike Smolek, right, explains to CSM President Brad Gottfried the depth of knowledge one can learn about population growth from oyster shells. A shell’s shape varies by the water depth and sunlight exposure. Water salinity rates can be determined by determining the sponges living on their surface and the age of shells can be determined by reading the growth rings which are sometimes clearly visible and other times need to be dyed to delineate. The Maryland Historical Trust has produced a manual on all of this called “Making Dead Oysters Talk.”

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MAC Lab Director Patricia Samford shows CSM President Brad Gottfried a canoe dating to 210 A.D. which is currently in the freeze drier to preserve it. The canoe has been soaked in a special solution that helps the cells retain their shape during the freeze-drying process. The vacuum removes the moisture as vapor through sublimation. The canoe will be weighed weekly and when the canoe’s weight stabilizes the freeze drying is complete.

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