Students of the past learn their craft by practice. Traditionally, historians use libraries, historical societies, and other repositories where primary documentary sources are located. For curators, archaeologists, and architectural historians, the sources of information are scattered--sites underground, standing buildings, and objects housed in attics and storage spaces. For this kind of evidence, students need to learn how to find, recover, analyze, and interpret its various meanings.
Anthropology/Archaeology Field Schools: For many years, anthropologists have recognized the necessity of gaining experience through summer field schools where the skills, etiquette, and reasons for excavating a site are taught under the supervision of an experienced archaeologist. William & Mary Anthropology Department and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation have long offered nationally known field schools in the methods of Historical Archaeology. These field schools may be used to satisfy the program requirement. They are part of the regular William & Mary summer school.
Material Culture Field School: Curators rarely get the same kind of intensive field-school training. Often budding curators are denied access to precious collections that are sometimes in deep storage or too fragile to be constantly handled. Study collections help but need to be made more widely available. Thus NIAHD sponsors an additional field school in Material Culture. Dr. Sarah McCartney offers the Material Culture Field School during the spring semester. NIAHD students are given priority in registering for this field school, after which spaces are available to all William & Mary students.
Architectural Field School: In the Spring of 2021, NIAHD sponsored an Architectural Field School to study the Bray-Digges House in Colonial Williamsburg. The class, lead by Dr. Carl Lounsbury, did a room-by-room study of the structure's material fabric. The final write-up of the students' findings can be found here: Dudley Digges House Room by Room Inventory of Building Fabric, 2021.