During the fall 2014 semester, UCA anthropology students gained glimpses into Conway’s past by examining archaeological artifacts excavated from Cadron Settlement Park, a National Historic Site located west of Conway along the Arkansas River. The students, enrolled in the Archaeology of North America course offered by the Department of Sociology, evaluated the Faulkner County Museum collection to learn about some of the earliest Euro-American settlers who ventured into the western frontier of central Arkansas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Megan Stane, a student in the class, enthused, “I’ve learned a lot about the process it takes to record artifacts by working on the project. This experience makes me want to intern at the Faulkner County Museum to help record more of the county’s history.”
The project is planned as a multi-semester, collaborative effort be-tween the UCA Department of Sociology and the Faulkner County Museum under the instruction of Dr. Duncan P. McKinnon, UCA anthropology lecturer, and Lynita Langley-Ware, the Director of the Faulkner County Museum.
Through an analysis of artifacts housed at the museum (ceramics, glassware, armaments, buttons, beads, nails, etc.) and analysis of literature and historical documents, students are using these data in their final projects to address questions related to trade, exchange, identity, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and cultural change at this important site in the history of Arkansas.
As Ms. Langley-Ware explains it, “Through the process of examining small, seemingly insignificant objects and referencing historic documents relevant to the settlement of this area, UCA students are gaining a better understand-ing of the global influences on the early development of today’s Faulkner County and the importance of history to inform on the present.”
Dr. McKinnon added, “This hands-on experience facilitates instruc-tion in the methods of conducting archaeological research, but it also offers a new perspective for students and a better understanding and visibility about the community in which they live.”
Dr. McKinnon and Ms. Langley-Ware expressed excitement about getting more students interested in community awareness and social identity tied to to the conservation and preservation of the history of the greater Conway area.