Research and Projects

Aquidneck Island Revolutionary War Battlefield Mapping

Our program partnered with the Middletown (R.I.) Historical Society on a project aimed at locating and preserving the sites of Colonial and British fortifications involved in the siege of Newport, fought in August 1778. In this battle, the French navy and a Colonial army, under the command of Gens. Sullivan, Lafayette and Greene, attacked British defensive positions using cannon fire and trench warfare. The British and Hessians (6,000 regulars and naval gunners), in fortified positions on the west side of Valley Road in Middletown, were attacked by the French fleet under Adm. D'Estaing and about 8,000 Colonial regulars and militia under Maj. Gen. Sullivan. This was one of the largest military operations of the Revolution and the first attempt at a combined French-Colonial military operation. Although unsuccessful, it contributed to the British decision to withdraw from Newport in 1779 and opened the way for Gen. Rochambeau's arrival in 1780.

As part of a $67,000 grant awarded by the National Park Service, our students were actively engaged in all aspects of the project, including historical research in archives, computerized mapping (where sophisticated software is used to overlay digital scans of historic maps onto modern aerial photos), and a ground-penetrating radar survey to make a map of what lies beneath the ground.

Yamasee War (1715-1717) Battlefield Survey

"The Sadkeche Fight," as it has been called, occurred in April 1715, just days after the Yamasee War began in South Carolina. It was a pivotal engagement within the war, marking the first major battle between the Yamasees and the South Carolina militia. In this battle the militia, numbering 240, defeated a force of Yamasee Indians roughly twice its size. A number of Yamasee leaders were also killed in the fighting, which halted their advance toward Charleston. The primary goal of this project is to identify testable locations for the Sadkeche Fight and associated sites.

Utilizing a $39,000 grant awarded by the National Park Service, our students and faculty will collect information from primary sources, recorded archaeological site documents, curated artifact assemblages, and stakeholder oral histories. They will employ geographic information systems software to combine this data with the results of a military terrain analysis in order to produce a map of locations for the battlefield, associated sites and routes of approach and withdrawal. They will incorporate the results of this analysis into a research design for future archaeological testing aimed at confirming and delineating the battlefield location. This ensuing stage will also include the development of a preservation plan for the battlefield and initiatives to increase community engagement in historic preservation.

Common Burying Ground

In collaboration with the city of Newport, our program has commenced an ongoing conservation project in the Common Burying Ground, the city's public cemetery since the middle of the 17th century. Students research historic burial practices, conduct surveys of the site and learn the correct ways to conserve historic slate, marble, brownstone and granite monuments.

Other Salve Regina students have participated in cleanup and headstone resetting projects in Newport's historic cemeteries and other locations outside of Aquidneck Island.

Planting, Trading and Slaving: The Archaeology of Carolina's Early Colonial Economy

The founding of Charles Town in 1670 and the establishment of the Carolina colony forever altered the history of North America. Fueled by local and transatlantic demand for trade goods, furs and human slaves, this economic engine created a wholly new landscape connecting Native American Indians with Europeans and Africans living throughout the Atlantic world. While this global system has shaped the histories of millions of people, the establishment of the Carolina colony (ca. 1670-1715) remains an understudied subject.

The joint project addresses this gap by conducting archaeological investigations at a number of the earliest colonial sites in South Carolina, including the original 1670 settlement at the Charles Towne Landing site and at St. Giles Kussoe, one of the earliest plantations in the Carolina colony (ca. 1674-1685). These sites offer the unique opportunity to improve our understanding of the emerging social and economic relationships that came to define the colonial experience for Europeans, Native Americans and Africans living in North America. The project will provide much-needed information addressing Native American and African colonial experiences - groups whose voices are keenly absent in current histories.

Summer Archaeological Field School

Each summer, assistant professor Dr. Jon Marcoux takes a number of Salve Regina students to Charleston, South Carolina for a hands-on field school. Open to all majors, this six-credit course (CHP390: Historic Archaeological Field School) does not require any prerequisites or prior knowledge of archaeology. Students learn the fundamental techniques of archaeological excavation while working closely with experts. They are also trained to use some of the discipline's most cutting-edge equipment, such as ground-penetrating radar. Through this collaborative experience, students explore questions about what life was like for the Europeans, enslaved Africans and Native Americans living in the area more than 300 years ago.

The field school also provides students with a modern cultural experience of the region, which is called the "Lowcountry." Students are housed on the College of Charleston campus in the heart of the city, and are encouraged to explore all the city has to offer. Students see, hear and taste the uniqueness of Charleston through excursions to important historical and cultural sites, attractions and restaurants.

Student Research Projects

Our students pursue significant undergraduate research through the completion of their senior theses. Recent topics have included:

  • "Conversion, Adaptive Reuse and Preservation of the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif."
  • "The Archaeology of the Lord Ashley Site [Charleston, South Carolina]: An Exploration of Seventeenth-Century Colonial Identities Based Upon Material Culture"
  • "The Architectural Collaboration Between Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue"
  • "The Rise and Decline of the Romanesque Revival in the U.S."
  • "The Architectural and Social History of St. Anne's Church and Shrine in Fall River, Mass."