The data collection for this public archaeology fieldwork course has to be one of the best parts for me. The first day had some nice weather for the spring semester as I arrived at the cemetery. It’s a fairly filled cemetery so I did get lost until I found that we would all be at a corner end of the cemetery. Richardson Rd is actually about eight minutes away from my home so it has been a friendly commute every Friday.
It was great to start off the semester with in class meetings as an introduction to the course, project and all the things necessary for the rest of the school year. I knew what to expect but also thought there would be more to collect once at the cemetery. What made it easy is that all I needed was a charged phone, a ruler, and a sheet with grave descriptions to start the day. Many details of a cemetery that I did not previously know were very interesting to me. The stone type, material, carvings, and even that most graves face to the east side.
I paid close attention to each individual buried and what family had left to remember them by. Even those that really didn’t have anything or was badly damaged has a story. At first it was difficult to walk around and not feel rude or disturbing of the area. I didn’t want to walk over anything so delicate and important. Being there really made me think of the life each person had and really what I have too, that is valuable and irreplaceable. It doesn’t matter what age or gender, there was a variety to see and reflect on. Rather than leave things on a sad note, the important thing is that data collection itself is for a much bigger picture. We are being respectful of the graves and ethical that nothing nor anyone is being harmed in the process.
The public cemetery lost records, has missing graves or are destroyed and the best thing we could do is restore it. Each grave has a number, a name, and other valuable information. It helps the county’s cemetery and the community of people who share family’s there. It’s not forgotten, but rather fragile that simply needs some restoration to improve it. The data collection process is thorough and I can imagine the time it took to flag and number each one. Over 1,000 graves and all different. Each time I collected, I became more familiar with the marker type and material and saw/learned something new. It feels good knowing that every day we added more into the project to help it grow and build with the community. Not a day felt wasted, including the short rainy days or the very hot long ones. It was important to take the time on each grave and input everything the best we would. What comes next is organizing the long extensive excel sheet and finally placing a name to a number and then mapping each one.
Great data collection experience!