For graduate students due to complete their studies in 2011 the daunting task of ‘finding a real job’ is fast approaching. Even when picking my semester 2 topics earlier in the year, this played heavily on my mind. What I wanted was a subject that would allow me to put skills learnt in the classroom into practice and give me some valuable experience in the field. Enter Cultural Heritage Practicum, a topic designed to do exactly that.
As part of the practicum, my role this semester has involved assisting our own Assoc. Prof. Heather Burke with research into two historically significant (yet very different!) South Australian buildings – the Mary Mackillop stables in Penola, and the notorious Seven Stars Hotel in Mallala, neither of which survive today.
Up until now, my research experience has been limited to libraries and online journals. Given this, the practicum presented a completely new and exciting challenge for me. Not only has it developed my research skills, but it also led to my participation in the excavation at Penola, which greatly increased my field experience and knowledge of how a ‘dig’ is conducted.
My next three blogs will outline my many adventures to archival repositories such as Land Titles and State Records, and my time in Penola. I hope to share with you the information I have learnt and how it has affected my understanding of these two sites.
The practicum has given me a taste of what historical archaeology is all about – both the excitement of making a find, as well as the difficulties one can come across when conducting historical research. All in all, it has been a great experience.