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 Courtney Page, Staff Archaeologist and Collections Manager at OSARC in Raleigh!
Courtney started with the OSA as an East Carolina University (ECU) graduate assistant at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in 2010, serving as assistant conservator for a year, and then Lab Manager for five years. In May 2018, she moved to OSARC in Raleigh to become Collections Manager! She holds a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology from Western Carolina University (WCU), and a Master of Arts in Anthropology with a concentration in Historical Archaeology from ECU.
How did you become interested in archaeology?
When I was nine, my parents took our family to Colonial Williamsburg for the first time, where I was not only excited about and wanted to participate in the living history, but I became completely enthralled by the active excavation of the coffee house cellar near the Capitol building (which has now been reconstructed). I remember imagining what the building would have been like and the people living their lives within from only the remaining walls; an experience that is still vivid to me, even two decades later. On future visits, I wore a colonial costume made by my mom and we always looked for the active excavations.
I started a different path in college, thinking I wanted to go into forensic science. After a year of pursuing that major at WCU, I realized that while my love of mystery and problem solving was what drew me to forensics, the deeper historical mysteries were the ones that captured my imagination. I switched to anthropology and never looked back. Today, I’m passionate about providing the same illuminating experience I had at nine to the next generation of archaeologists.
What is your favorite project or archaeology memory?
My first hands-on and most memorable experience with historical archaeology was my ECU graduate field school at Fort Macon, NC. We investigated the Eliason House about a quarter mile from Fort Macon itself. The house was originally constructed for the engineer building the fort and was later occupied by the commander of the troops stationed there. During the Siege of Fort Macon in 1862, the house was burned by the Confederate troops while attempting to remove places for the Union soldiers to hide. I still remember the excitement of finding the footprint stain from the burned house and the intact brick path that we knew from records surrounded the entire exterior. That is when history became completely tangible to me. We found lots of evidence of the battle, but also many domestic items that told us about the families that lived there. We even found a 32lb cannon ball sitting on the brick path near what would have been the front door!
What are your hobbies outside of archaeology?
I’m passionate about animal rescue and volunteered at the Humane Society in Greenville and now the SPCA of Wake County. I also love the outdoors, either actively exploring nature or watching
the wildlife I feed on my balcony. I enjoy finding new and unique places, and still travel to historic sites across the country.
Cat or dog?
Cat. All living things are wonderful, but I identify most with cats. Their independence, their loyalty and empathy, their propensity to nap, their silliness, and their endless, sometimes (i.e. often) trouble-inducing curiosity. I have two, Summer and Maggie, and intend to adopt another and foster in the future.
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.
-In the field, image courtesy of Courtney Page
-Mapping the brick path at the Eliason House, image courtesy of Courtney Page
-Cats Summer and Maggie, image courtesy of Courtney Page