Anthropology major focuses on career path
Sam Stryker | Thursday, March 1, 2012
The field of archaeology may conjure images of exotic locales and adventure thanks to Indiana Jones’ cinematic exploits, but for one Notre Dame senior, the discipline represents a very real career path.
Senior Carleigh Moore spent last summer cataloguing a collection of roughly 20,000 Native American artifacts at the Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey. Moore’s project was more than a summer job, however, as she wants to use the experience as a springboard to future employment.
Moore said a large portion of her task included sorting the artifacts in an efficient manner after years of neglect.
“I needed to figure out what was in the collection … and how to organize them in a way that would benefit the National Park, interested Native American representatives and future researchers,” she said. “I went through every artifact in the collection and created a reference book that included descriptions of the artifacts and photos.”
Moore said her work might have an even greater legacy at the National Park. The organization is exploring the possibility of making a lasting display with some of the artifacts she worked with.
“After I left, the park took on a new intern from a local college who worked throughout the semester to make a temporary exhibit of some of the artifacts. The park is considering making a more permanent exhibit,” she said. “If they do have enough money to finance the project, the catalogue system and reference book that I created will be used as a resource in the development of the exhibit.”
Moore said it was gratifying to know her work paid direct dividends to the site.
“I was fascinated by the relationship between legislation and the constraints of running a museum,” she said. “Knowing as an unpaid researcher that I could help the park in learn more about a collection that they previously couldn’t because of money and time constraints was interesting and rewarding.”
After studying abroad last spring in Australia, Moore said she was inspired to learn about Native Americans after studying the aboriginal community.
“As an anthropology major I was itching to put my education to practical use. I thought that carrying out an independent research project would be a great way to test and strengthen my skills,” she said. “It was a way to take the larger ideas and lessons I learned abroad and apply them to a project in my own community.
Moore said she obtained her position by sending out her resume to different organizations after she decided to work on a research project at a museum.
“It just so happened that they had a need for someone to work with the Native American collection and I was interested in the working on it,” she said. “It turned out that my interests and goals met the needs of the park.”
The Department of Anthropology was also very helpful in the process of realizing her research experience, Moore said.
“The department helped me realize that as an undergraduate I could carry out a unique research project that could hopefully be beneficial to others,” she said.
Though she has no immediate plans for the summer, Moore said her experiences working in the National Park have inspired her to explore similar career opportunities.
“This project also sparked my interest in working for the federal government, since I was working in a museum that was run by the National Park Service,” she said. “I am now looking into ways my interests in anthropology and archaeology can be used in a position within the government.