Historical Archaeology Program Dedicates Research Center

J.P. Goodwin

When members of the UMass Boston Historical Archaeology Program conducted archaeological research at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island in New York, they apparently made an excellent impression on the Fiske family, who own the land which housed a 17th century Provision Plantation. So much so, that the Mrs. Alice Fiske donated $1 million dollars to UMass Boston to fund the Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research, named in memory of her late husband.

“I’m excited, the students are excited. They’re doing a wonderful job. It’s been extremely rewarding to have this connection, the students are really dedicated,” declared the 86-year old matron of the Fiske clan, who traveled to Boston with several members of her family for the October 4 dedication.

Stephen Mrozowski, director of the Fiske Center and the UMB Historical Archaeology Program, stated, “The Fiske Center, among other things, will provide both graduate and undergraduate students at UMass Boston with the opportunity to participate in archaeological research of the highest quality. The Center will provide an environmental archaeological workplace, a cultural research management workplace and a research center.”

The Fiske Center is located in the McCormack Building, first floor, Room 518 and will be open to the public for tours, informational chats with archaeologists, and special opportunities to learn more about animal bone identification, conservation of Big Dig artifacts and preparation of soil samples for archaeobotanical analysis.

“I never had the opportunity to Know Andrew Fiske, but his name will serve as an inspiration to all students at UMass Boston,” said Mrozowski at the dedication. “Archaeology is our way of contributing to the future,” he added.

Joining Mrozowski at the dedication was Chancellor Jo Ann Gora, who noted, “How grateful we are for Mrs. Fiske’s support. She has been a friend to our students and an inspiration to our faculty and staff. We are recognizing her indomitable spirit.”

Mrozowski unveiled a plaque naming the Fiske Center made of Vermont slate “imbedded with 10 million years of history.” He also explained that the Center has been asked by the FBI to participate with other research groups in investigating the World Trade Center bombings.

The UMB Historical Archaeological Program was established in 1981. There are between 30 and 35 graduates students in the program. They have been conducting research at the Sylvester Manor, where food stuffs and raw materials from England and Holland were stored during the 17th and early 18th century to be transported to sugar plantations in Barbados.

A number of the program’s students were at the dedication and were excited about the opportunities that the new center would provide. “It’s an opportunity for hands-on experience and will give us a broad-based look at how to do archaeological research,” explained Eleanor Breen.