Keeping Up with the Parker Academy: A look back at the past year at Parker Academy NSF REU

By: Andrea Shiverdecker

Photography by Andrea Shiverdecker (unless otherwise noted)
(All individuals photographed gave permission for their images to be shared)

As we watched the seasons come and go during the past year, a new installment of 30 Days of Kentucky Archaeology created a great opportunity of reflection on all the work achieved by the research fellows of Parker Academy NSF REU. Just as the seasons and school years pass, some fellows graduated and moved on, while some came back to pursue graduate degrees to focus on their research in historical archaeology and public history. This look back features the work of all the fellows who have contributed phenomenal work to the research needs of the Parker Academy NSF REU grant, while also highlighting upcoming features, public outreach, publications, and more.

The fellows organized and participated in numerous community outreach and public archaeology events this past year. Teaching fundamentals of archaeology, culture, diversity, and art were the featured components in these events that were hosted at Lincoln Grant Scholar House (Covington, KY), which is an amazing innovative model that provides services in education, family support, and housing to single, full-time college students.

Other community events included an educational booth at the 36th Annual Salt Festival at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site. This three-day event focused on public archaeology, anthropology, and history to provide educational information and resources for all age groups. Focusing on a collaboration between the Anthropology and History Departments at Northern Kentucky University, a cohesive group from the different majors gave the public multiple opportunities to find where their interests may lie. Participants could make a clay pot, dig in the dig box filled with various types of replica artifacts, and learn about the degrees and programs offered at Northern Kentucky University. The event was a success and the fellows are looking forward to participating again this year on October 18-20.

36th Annual Salt Festival at Big Bone Lick State Historical Site Parker Academy/NKU Booth . Photographs by A. Shiverdecker

Conference papers and presentations were given by many of the fellows, and you may have seen them at some of these events. Fellows Lyndsay McNabb and Delaney Gillum won 3rd place in the Anthropology category at the Kentucky Academy of Science Conference.  Andrea Shiverdecker and Samantha Hamilton presented their research as well. The fellows were also seen at the 36th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference. Liza Vance gave an oral presentation on daily life at the Parker Academy on Friday; and Andrea Shiverdecker shared her research on Kentucky native Phoebe Ann Taylor Duncanson together with her photographic Mnemosyne Atlas that she created from many of the snapshots that she took as documentarian of the Parker Academy Project. A proud accomplishment was achieved when Andrea’s project was selected for the 2019 Posters at the Capitol session in Frankfort. Shiverdecker’s Mnemosyne Atlas was the first art installation ever featured at the capital for this event, and a high point for all parties involved in its creation and the journey to make it there. The fellows were also spotted at the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference and Northern Kentucky University’s Celebration of Student Research and Creativity where Liza Vance won Outstanding Oral Presentation.

Figure 6 Mnemosyne Atlas by Andrea Shiverdecker Photographed by A. Shiverdecker

 Figure 7 From Written by A. Shiverdecker, L. Vance, S. Jones, W. Landon.

Publications are always a success for a grant team, and the Parker fellows participated in those as well. Fellow Andrea Shiverdecker not only participated in last year’s 30 Days of Kentucky Archaeology with her piece on the “Magic of a Grant”, but also collaborated with Liza Vance, Dr. Sharyn Jones, and Dr. William Landon on a piece for blog on public archaeology. This year, the fellows are all working feverishly on an anticipated publication, and we will be sure to keep everyone up to date on the status and future release of publications.

This Summer sparked a new resurgence of growth in research and collaboration for the fellows of the Parker Academy. While a group of students were selected for a three-week-long summer program focusing on interpretation and historical document analysis led by Dr. Brian Hackett and graduate research fellow Chelsea Hauser, the group also enjoyed a field trip to the homestead and archaeological site of the Parker Academy. The field trip included neighboring Underground Railroad stops in New Richmond, Ohio and President U.S. Grant’s Birthplace.

Figure 8 Summer 2019 Interpretive Group Parker Academy NSF REU.  Photograph by A. Shiverdecker
Figure 9 Geographer GIS Expert Amy Prues (Left) and Graduate Fellow Chelsea Hauser (Right). Photograph by A. Shiverdecker

Projects for graduate fellows began to take shape as well this summer as graduate fellow Chelsea Hauser began the conservation process for the archives of the Parker family. She has begun the painstaking process of removing the documents from the acidic albums and also removed the tape that they were housed in by members of the Parker family.  Chelsea was assisted by undergraduate fellow Lyndsay McNabb who began the process of scanning all the documents for an online data base.  The goal of Lyndsey’s work is to digitize the entire archive so that it might be accessed by  a broader range and scope of researchers.

Archaeobotanical research has had a bountiful bloom this year for the Parker Academy Project. Graduate Research Fellow, Michael Steenken, received a research grant that provided him and Dr. Sharyn Jones (Co-Principal investigator and Professor of Anthropology at Northern Kentucky University) the opportunity to purchase laboratory equipment to afford NKU students the opportunity to study archaeobotany. With this grant, Michael and his undergraduate research assistant, Delaney Gilliam, have been able to identify plant remains recovered from the site.

Geographer and GIS Specialist Amy Prues has been creating maps from GIS coordinates that she, and undergraduate fellow Matthew Winkler captured during the 2018 archaeological field school. She is now collaborating with fellow Andrea Shiverdecker in creating a story map for the Parker Academy to include site maps, and unit locations.  When users access the maps and unit locations they will be able to view photographs of the artifacts extracted from the units.  This approach will add valuable data to the Parker Academy story map.

Figure 19 Geographer and GIS Specialist Amy Prues teaching a lesson on GIS to 2019 Summer Fellows. Photograph by A. Shiverdecker

Research Fellow Andrea Shiverdecker completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology in December 2018 and was honored to be the Student Commencement Speaker for the graduation ceremony at Northern Kentucky University. She has since returned to NKU to become a graduate student in the Public History M.A. program at Northern and is continuing her research focus on Phoebe Duncanson (African American KY native and student of the Parker Academy, wife of famed Cincinnati artist Robert S. Duncanson). Additionally, Andrea is continuing with her photography, public outreach, and much more as a graduate fellow with the Parker Academy NSF REU. Through her beautiful photographs, Andrea continues to document grant-related work on the team’s various social media sites; all while continuing to design and updating the project’s website. Most recently Andrea has begun studying videography and is currently creating videos that highlight the work of all the fellows on the grant project.  She is also engaged in writing and research that will be published along with the work of other members of the Parker Project team.

Figure 25 Graduate Research Fellow Andrea Shiverdecker discovered a tin plate surface find while filming at the Parker Academy Archaeological Field Site. Photograph by M. Steenken and Edited by A. Shiverdecker

Keep a look out for members from the Parker Academy NSF REU in a panel presentation at this year’s Ohio Valley History Conference in October, as well as at the Salt Lick Festival at Big Bone State Historic Site. While we were only able to highlight just some of the amazing and diverse work created by the fellows, stay up to date with all the latest news via the social media sites and website. Until the next rotation around the sun, good luck in keeping up with the Parker Academy fellows.

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  The material presented in this report is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant #1659467 to W. J. Landon and S. Jones.


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