How I arrived here is kind of complicated and interesting, at least to me. I was born in New Jersey, went to school in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana. I graduated from Louisiana State University and later received my M.A. in anthropology from LSU. For a number of years I worked in college textbook sales, travelling from the Canadian border to Texas and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. I finally received my Ph.D. in history from LSU in 1982 for a dissertation on the history of federal archaeology in the Southeast during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
In 1996 I published a revised version as A New Deal for Southeastern Archaeology with the University of Alabama Press. The book received the Anne B. and James B. McMillan Prize from the University of Alabama Press for the best manuscript signed by the Press in 1994 in Southern history, literature, and culture.
In 1982 I began working for the New Orleans District as an historian but that's not the end of the story. Years ago, I had gone out on a number of archaeological digs. I soon learned that archaeology is work, hard work, in often unpleasant surroundings. So I decided I certainly didn't want to be an archaeologist.
Well, after several years of working as a historian for the Corps of Engineers my job was eliminated and I was transferred into a position as an archaeologist. It was the best thing that every happened to me. But I am still a sidewalk archaeologist, proud that my white sneakers never get dirty. Most of my work focuses on identification, study, and protection of historic sites. I have managed projects on locks along the Mississippi River, historic districts, forts, flood control structures, bridges, and other kinds of historic properties. The contractors working for me have used archaeological surveys, architectural studies, and historical research in their work.
One of the most interesting
archaeological projects I have been involved in was an excavation,
or what we call data recovery, at Nina
Plantation, on the west bank of the Mississippi River near New Roads,
Louisiana. One of our archaeologists,
Joan Exnicios, managed the project and I helped out when needed.
We found a plantation where sugar and cotton had been grown. The
river had eroded the bank until the land was abandoned and a levee setback
constructed farther back from the river. Over a period of time the
spring floods of the Mississippi River covered the area with a thick
layer of sediment about 3 feet thick, protecting the archaeological
remains. Our archaeological contractor, R. Christopher Goodwin and
Associates, recovered over a hundred boxes of artifacts
and lots of information about how the planters and African Americans who
were enslaved on the plantation lived.
for Global Environmental Education