Ask a group of children what they know about archaeology and you will undoubtedly get an answer that includes mention of "digging" and "stuff" or "things" (the level of specificity will depend on the age, education and precociousness of the child). Referred to as "excavation" and "artifacts" by archaeologists, the kids have hit on the how and the what of archaeology. The only thing missing is the why. Why do archaeologist do what they do? To learn as much as we can about the people who owned and used the things we dig up. As a result we are doing local history.
Archaeology is a sub-discipline of anthropology and as such we are interested in the lives and cultures of past people. Of course, to completely understand a group of people researchers must look at all aspects of their lives. By digging in the ground, archaeologists mainly find evidence of structures, land use and most of all discarded objects, in other words, the people's trash. Looking into someone's trash can provide significant clues to how they lived (there are no secrets in the trash dump).
Material Culture Research
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LACI has document and artifact collections from various families from the Waynesboro area.
But in order to thoroughly research local history we also need to look at the things they didn't throw away, what they wrote, read and what was written about them, and their relationships with others. This type of information is handled through material culture and documentary research, history and genealogy. Along with archaeology, LACI actively engages in material culture and documentary research. While our expertise is not in genealogy, we are fortunate to benefit from a long history of excellent genealogical research in the Waynesboro area.
LACI is fortunate to have both an extensive material culture collection and a document collection that came from various families from the Waynesboro area, including the Stoner family. The material culture collection has well over a thousand items ranging from 1730s coins to late 19th and 20th century sets of dishes. While the document collection contains several thousand documents from early 18th century land deeds including original deeds for some of the first lots sold in Waynesboro to letters written throughout the 19th century to twentieth century genealogical notes.
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