Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 6: A Very Successful Public Day

From Jenn Babiarz:
"Yesterday we opened the Market Master archaeology site to the public so they could get a look at how we conduct our research, and even try a hand at it themselves. We ended up having quite a few visitors (I would guess at least 75) of all ages, and many of them were from the area. I spent the day with Dave Gadsby showing the artifacts that we’ve found on the site in the last week, and explaining what we do with them after we dig them out of the ground. It was a lot of fun showing people how much a tiny piece of broken plate can tell us about the daily lives of people in the past. Most people didn’t know that the Market Masters house even existed, and all those from local communities were excited to see a bit of their local history being celebrated. Although I only got to see from a distance, I think that all the visitors had a lot of fun helping us screen the dirt that Ben spent all day shoveling out of a unit by the from the front door of the house. Their work will play an important part in how we understand the lives of those who lived in Bladensburg’s past. Many thanks to everyone who came by to see us; I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the community that we’re working with!"

Mike Roller: "It was really exciting, and moving, to meet people who came out to the public day that had grown up in the neighborhood. We heard memories and anecdotes of Bladensburg life dating back to 80 years ago! We collected contact information for some of these people and hope to meet with them and record some of their memories of Bladesburg geography, history and community. These memories, like archaeology, can help us fill in the gaps of history, and connect it to the people who lived through it.

I was really surprised when I told a gentleman that we were finding .22 rifle shell casings dating back to the mid-twentieth century in our unit. He then told me he had learned to fire a .22 rifle in the yard of the Market Master's House when he was a young boy right around this time! He commented: 'They were probably mine!'."

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