In honor of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in 2020, we are celebrating the talented women who work for the NC Office of State Archaeology with our "Trowel Blazers" series. This week we're honoring Sherry Boyette, archaeological lab tech at the OSA Research Center in Raleigh!
Sherry started with the OSA as a volunteer in April 2016 and became a permanent technician in October 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a double minor in Coastal Geology and Anthropology from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, and will begin the Masters’ Program in Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology at NC State University this fall!
How did you become interested in archaeology?
As a child, archaeology was one of three things I wanted to be when I grew up. The others were astronomer and marine biologist. I quickly learned that astronomy had too much math, so that idea went out the window. The admiration and curiosity I have for dolphins helped me pursue marine science until I got to college and realized it was not for me (dolphins are still my favorite animal, though). I changed my major to history, which I have had an interest in since the 4th grade, and when I saw The Mummy movie I fell in love with the Egyptian culture. I studied a lot of Egyptian and general history throughout my life, so this major made more sense for me. I forgot about archaeology until I took Intro to Anthropology, where I learned the university had an archaeological field school and I knew if I really wanted to pursue this career I needed to get in the dirt. Being outside and getting muddy didn’t bother me as a Coastal Geology minor. The more time you spend in the marsh the more you don’t mind dirt. During field school, I knew this was the career for me. It encompasses my love for history, playing in the dirt, and protecting artifacts for present and future generations. In 2016, I started volunteering with the OSA Research Center in Raleigh and learned so much more. I have worked here for over 3 years and enjoy my job every day.
What is your favorite project or archaeology memory?
I don’t really have a favorite memory or project. I learn so much each time I go into the field or work on a collection. My field school does hold a special place for me because it was where I first felt the excitement of rediscovering a lost artifact and knowing that I get a chance to tell its story, which is one of the great aspects of this job. I have always wanted to discover something big that would change the world’s thinking, but I have learned it doesn’t have to be on that scale. By telling the story of a site or artifact, we are learning new things that can change to way we look at future artifacts and sites.
What other hobbies do you have?
Since college, I have researched my own family history. My fathers’ side has not had much genealogy done, and I wanted to know where my dad’s family came from and write down all the stories of my grandparents. I have found out a lot over the years! I also enjoy reading, mostly history-related books, but I do venture out into other genres. Watching TV shows, movies, shopping, visiting family and friends are other hobbies I enjoy.
Cat or dog?
Both. I have mostly grown up with cats, but I also love dogs. You can’t go wrong with either!
About the Campaign
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. As part of a national campaign to commemorate this historic event, North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is coordinating a campaign titled “She Changed the World: NC Women Breaking Barriers” March 2019, continuing through November 2020. American women were granted the right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, after a 72-year fight by suffragists. The 19th Amendment did not resolve the issue of suffrage for women of color, who continued to battle for voting rights for decades.
-Working at Halifax State Historic Site, image by NC Office of State Archaeology
-Dog Tipper and cats Murray and Caspurr., image courtesy of Sherry Boyette