As you’ve no doubt realized, we have an incredible team working behind the scenes at Locust Grove. Today, we’re talking with Sammi Hagan, Archaeology intern. Sammi just graduated from the University of Kentucky in May with a BA in Anthropology. Her focus was in archaeology and classical studies and she’s also very interested in South American archaeology as well as Cultural Anthropology.While she applies for graduate programs in anthropology, we’ve been lucky to have her working on an archaeology exhibit here at Locust Grove. Let’s see what’s she’s been up to!
What drew you to work at Locust Grove?
I actually didn’t know much about Kentucky or even Louisville history before working at LG so working here seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about Kentucky’s past and the important people that lived in Louisville and helped make it the awesome place to live that it is today. Plus it was a chance to work with people just as invested in history as I am!
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m working with our archivist Kaitlyn on completing the inventory of the collection in the house and updating the database that has all the information about every item displayed Locust Grove. We are uploading new pictures, updating the location and status of everything in the house. I’m also working on finishing an exhibit using the archaeological collection. It’s about the Surveyor’s cabin built in the middle of the formal garden here at Locust Grove during the Croghan family era and includes some of the artifacts found in 1997 during the field school excavation in that area.
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t really have a “typical” day here at LG. I split my time a lot between the archaeology facility down at UofL where our collection is curated and Locust Grove. If I’m not at the lab I usually come in to LG around 11 and work on the inventory with Kaitlyn. Then when Kaitlyn is gone I research some about the artifacts I’ve picked to display and work on how I’m planning to display it.
What’s been your most interesting discovery?
I can’t remember exactly when this happened but one of the archaeologists LG works with is Phil DiBlasi at UofL and he told me once they used a tornado to find a feature at Locust Grove. They looked at a record of a tornado that had cut through Locust Grove’s Property and apparently hit a barn in it’s path. Then they used knowledge of tornados and the way they behave to figure out the exact path and ended up finding archaeological evidence of a barn in that way. I’ve never heard of doing archaeology through meteorology like that but apparently it works!
Has anything frustrated you in your work here at Locust Grove?
One thing that has frustrated me about this project is just the sheer size of the archaeological collection. There are literally tens of thousands of artifacts that have been excavated at Locust Grove throughout the years and only a TINY fraction of them are on display already. So going through the whole collection and trying to narrow it down to just a few things to display was really difficult, especially when I didn’t start with a topic already in mind.
What is your favorite item in the collection?
There’s so many things to choose from!! But my favorite item in the archaeological collection is a tie between a piece of pottery with a colorful design painted on it that looks like the style from the colonial period and a box of tons of leather shoes, some whole and some in pieces.
What do you like best about Locust Grove?
I love the way Locust Grove makes history really come alive. The house is set up so well it looks like the Croghan’s are just away on vacation. The amount of personal detail they use in setting up the exhibits makes it really fun to imagine you are actually there in 1809.
Why should people care about archaeology?
That’s a dangerous question to ask me! I am extremely passionate about archaeology because I think it’s really important in understanding who we are. It tells us where we came from and how we got to where we are today. Archaeology fills in the parts that history might leave out like telling us what slave life was like or what women did on a daily basis in different ancient civilizations. Many times history was written by the affluent men in a society because they were typically the only literate ones so they tended to gloss over or completely leave out information about the less privileged groups in society and archaeology helps to bring those people back into history by using the material culture they left behind. Not to mention it’s really fun to get dirty and live out your Indiana Jones fantasies.
Why should people visit Locust Grove?
People should visit Locust Grove because it’s an exciting chance to sort of go back in time and experience history in a way that’s more fun than reading it out of a book. Also because the Clark and Croghan families did so much collectively for our country when we were just starting out and there’s so much to learn about them.
What’s next for you?
I’m going on a trip in the spring to South America and can’t wait to see some of the Inca ruins and also do some volunteering with a community development organization in Peru.
Sammi adds, “I have loved my time here at Locust Grove and I’m only bummed it’s ending so soon!” Thanks for all your hard work, Sammi! We’ll miss having you, and we’ll work on getting you a hat like Indiana Jones!
Stay tuned for news of Sammi’s exhibit by following Locust Grove on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. And if you’ve visited us recently, please take a moment and leave us a review on TripAdvisor! We’d love to know what you thought!
And don’t forget–Market Fair is this Saturday and Sunday from 10-4:30. Come back to the blog on Friday for a brief preview of the excitement!
Until then, I remain your faithful servant,