USA Graduate Student Shares the Love and Mystery of Digging into the Past

Posted on January 4, 2018
Joy Washington

Anne Dorland, who is pursuing a master’s degree in the College of Education and Professional Studies, teaches archaeology lessons at elementary schools through her graduate assistantship.  data-lightbox='featured'
Anne Dorland, who is pursuing a master’s degree in the College of Education and Professional Studies, teaches archaeology lessons at elementary schools through her graduate assistantship.

After working for five years as a professional archaeologist, Anne Dorland decided to return to college and earn a master’s degree with the hope of sharing her love for archaeology with grade school students. Thanks to a unique outreach program at the University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum, she is doing just that.

Dorland, a graduate of Mobile’s St. Paul’s Episcopal School, is pursuing her alternative master’s degree in the College of Education and Professional Studies at South. She is working as a graduate assistant with anthropology professor Dr. Philip Carr, the Chief Calvin McGhee Endowed Professor of Native American Studies, who directs the museum and created the outreach program.

“We wanted to focus on the community outreach program so that we could invite all grade-level school students to campus, and for those who can’t come we can take resources into the classroom and do a presentation at the schools,” Carr explained. “With Anne’s professional experience in archaeology and her current master’s work, this provides the students with exposure to an academic environment and professional archaeological methods. Anne was the perfect student to coordinate this effort, and she has done an outstanding job to have just started the outreach program in August.”

And outreach is what Dorland has done. During the fall semester, she spoke to 42 fourth-grade classes at 13 schools and provided classroom resources to 31 elementary schools, despite working only 20 hours a week.

“I am very passionate about history and culture,” Dorland said. “I wanted to get my master’s degree in education, and I could not have selected a better place to study than at South Alabama. Dr. Carr has been wonderful to work for. What I love most is that I get to combine my professional skills in archaeology with education.”

Dorland said she starts out the students with “garbology,” the study of how people lived and what we can learn from their trash or the items they left behind. She said this includes their diet, hobbies, age, gender and cultural connections. Her focus for the students is to provide opportunities for observation, interaction, investigation and exploration.

“I spent a great deal of time working with Candice Cravins, the curator for the USA Archaeology Museum,” Dorland said. “Candice helped me develop the outreach activity and gave me advice in how to execute the program. Dr. Carr has given me the freedom to work on this project, and he has trusted me.”

Going forward, Dorland plans to include some outdoor survival education and incorporate local and natural history. “I love doing the outreach with all the students, especially the sixth-graders. At some point, I would like to create a program for troubled youth.  I plan to continue working very hard to make this program a success.”

As a student in the College of Education and Professional Studies, Dorland is applying the teaching techniques she is learning to educate young students about archaeology.

“Archaeology is a great area to focus on educating our young people,” Dr. Susan Santoli, professor and director of the college’s graduate studies, noted. “Anne worked diligently in my class, and I know the students are benefiting from the opportunity of connecting and engaging with Anne and archaeology.”

“Anne is able to go deeper than if the students were just reading the textbook,” Carr said. “Based on her education and professional experiences, she has helped create a robust outreach program that we are proud of, and we look forward to sharing these activities and resources with the students."

South’s archaeology museum has numerous events, and it’s open to the public at no charge, but they do accept donations. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., except during University holiday closures. For more information, call (251) 460-6106 or email

January Archaeology Museum Events:

  • Archaeologist for an Afternoon: Bone Detectives. This after school program for  4th-12th grade students and their parents will be held from 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Jan. 9. Admission is free, and space is limited to 20 children. Parents and guardians must remain with their children throughout the duration of the program.
  • Saturday Craft and Story Time: Turtle’s Race with Beaver. The January family day program will be held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Jan. 13. The program will feature a read-aloud of the story “Turtle’s Race with Beaver” by Joseph Bruchac at 11:15 a.m.and1 p.m. and then the kids and their families will participate in a fun craft activity. This activity is for children in grades K-3, but  all ages are welcome. Admission is free.
  • The Search for Amelia Earhart: Expedition to Nikumaroro. This free public lecture at 6 p.m. on Jan. 25 will be presented by Dr. Lew Toulmin. He recently participated in a National Geographic Society-sponsored archaeological expedition to Nikumaroro Island in the western Pacific Ocean, searching for the bones of Earhart. Toulmin will discuss Earhart’s life, the three major schools of thought regarding her disappearance, other unlikely theories, the Nikumaroro expedition, the DNA and other evidence collected over the years, and plans for future efforts.

February Archaeology Museum Event:

  • A workshop and guided tour will be held for K-12th grade students of the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Trail of Mobile and visit to the museum for later February in recognition of Black History Month.  More information will be shared once the date is confirmed. Admission is free.

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