YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Fifty students, 15,000 artifacts and 1,000 volunteer hours — the Anthropology students at Youngstown State University are making history through a curation project with the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.
In 2018, YSU was contacted by The Arms Museum about a project to identify a collection of thousands of artifacts that were sitting untouched for decades. For the last three to four years, students have spent a couple of hours each week going through bags and bags of ancient Native American arrowheads.
Most of these artifacts were found by lakes and reservoirs in the area.
“By going through and identifying these, we are essentially giving life to these long-gone people who are otherwise erased from history,” said Anthropology professor Matt O’Mansky.
Each artifact is identified as to what it is used for, when it was made and the Native American group that produced it. The item is weighed, measured and recorded.
The Mahoning Valley Historical Society will then photograph each piece, and a digital record is made.
So far, 3,500 points have been identified.
“Being able to preserve local history is an incredible and rare thing to do, especially in this area,” said Kate Pfouts, president of the Anthropology Colloquium.
The project is a unique opportunity for students to get work in an actual curatorial environment, an opportunity not offered at every school.
“Having hands-on experience and field experience is crucial, whether they want to go into graduate school or get jobs. In fact, there have been a lot of reports in recent years, the desperate need for archaeologists,” O’Mansky said.
The Anthropology students emphasize the value of acknowledging local history.
“It’s becoming more important to learn about the past: one, so it doesn’t repeat itself, but also so we can preserve it so future generations know the truth and know what happened in the past and can get multiple viewpoints of one event,” Pfouts said.
“It’s important for the younger generations to learn from the past, because you can’t forget things about the past,” said Mitchel Mctigue, an Anthropology major at YSU.
The curation project will resume after winter break.