Women of the OSA featuring Elise Carroll
Trowel Blazers

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.

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 Elise Carroll, Lab Manager at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in Greenville!

Elise has worked with the QAR Lab in many capacities over the years, starting as a summer undergraduate volunteer in 2011, an intern in 2012, a graduate assistant during her graduate studies, a conservation technician, and QAR Lab Manager as of September 2018! She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and minor in Anthropology from the University of Mississippi, aka Ole Miss, and a Master of Arts degree in History with a concentration in underwater archaeology and maritime history from the East Carolina University Program in Maritime Studies.

Elise on an archaeological dive in Costa Rica
Elise on an archaeological dive in Costa Rica

How did you become interested in archaeology?

I became interested in archaeology through my love of history and love of the ocean. As a child, I thought I wanted to become a marine biologist, because that is a career that would spend a lot of time around the ocean, swimming and exploring. I quickly realized I did not like “squishy” things and biology freaked me out. My parents suggested that I look into underwater archaeology, because they knew my interests. From then on, I was hooked. To see if underwater archaeology could be a career that I enjoy, I began volunteering at the QAR Lab during the summers, starting in 2011. After that, I began my master’s in underwater archaeology in 2014 and since been involved in the field through school or work.

What is your favorite project or archaeology memory?

One of my favorite projects that I have participated in was my first field school in Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica. This was the first time that I truly felt like I was doing underwater archaeology, and the location was stunning. The site was not deep and located on a beautiful reef along the beach of an amazing forest. We recorded two historic sites that contained cannon, anchors, and potential trade goods. We talked to the local community to learn more about their history with the wreck site and how the site is viewed today. While working, we were surrounded by nature in Costa Rica. You could hear howler monkeys off in the distance, we had local sloth friends who would greet us at the boat launch, and a local dog we named “Grumpy” who liked to follow us around! I love sloths, so being able to work with them all around was amazing. It was a pretty unforgettable experience and a privilege to have as my first true archaeological experience.

Sloth friend in Costa Rica
Sloth friend in Costa Rica

What other hobbies do you have?

Currently I’m just recovering from being a grad student, but I love to travel. A few times a month, I try and go to a different place around my local area to see more of the region I grew up in and when I am able to, I like to go on trips around the United States and internationally. I also enjoy going to the local boxing gym for stress relief and a great workout. I try to volunteer in the community when I have time and try to stay involved with the local diving community.

Cat or dog?

Dogs. I grew up with cats and love them dearly, but I have a Scottish terrier named Sookie and she always brightens up my day! I love the sheer enthusiasm and love that she shares with everyone she meets and all of the cuddles she loves to give.

Elise and dog Sookie
Elise and dog Sookie


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.

Image credits:

-Archaeological dive in Costa Rica, image courtesy of Elise Carroll

-Sloth friend in Costa Rica, image courtesy of Elise Carroll

-Elise and Sookie, image courtesy of Elise Carroll

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