Archaeological and Ethnological Lab & Library

Located in the Basement of the Old Main building (OM B12 & B14), the Lab is a tremendous resource to the university. The Anthropology Program maintains a valuable collections of artifacts with storage, lab, and display space as well as a seminar room and library.  Many of the archaeological artifacts in our collection have come to us through the work of students in the Marshall University Archaeological Field School.

Marshall University Ethnographic Collection

Located in the lab, the collection includes more than 450 objects from all over the world, from the barren tundra of the Arctic Circle to the hot sands of the Kalahari desert of southern Africa, from the coral atolls of the Pacific to the rainforests of the Amazon. The artifacts include everything from toys to weapons, from ritual and sacred pieces to items of daily wear.

The collection dates from 1997 when the Sunrise Museum, in Charleston, West Virginia, offered Marshall University a portion of its ethnographic inventory, prior to its move into the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences. More artifacts have been added by private donors since.

Humans are manufacturers, in part what defines our species. The things we make are tools for survival, weapons for protection, toys to entertain and teach our young, ritual objects to communicate with supernatural forces, material signs to reflect our social status in the community, and numerous other items just for personal display, pride in the craftsmanship and beauty.

Archaeological Fieldschool

Archaeology, the science of reconstructing and understanding past and present cultures from their material remains, is taught in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Marshall University, in the classroom, in the laboratory, and also in the field. Hands-on instruction is strongly encouraged.  The department provides the opportunity for students to learn the basic techniques of surveying, excavation and recording, to experience the thrill of discovery, by offering an annual archaeological field school, a three to six credit course (ANT 323), during Summer Session 5.  This kind of practical experience is a big asset for those who wish to continue in archaeology as a career.

The sites investigated by the field school in the last twenty plus years cover the span of human occupation in West Virginia, from the Early Archaic, at St-Albans (ca. 6000 BCE, Kanawha County), through the Late Prehistoric, at Snidow (ca. 1250 CE, Mercer County) and Clover (ca. 1580 CE, Cabell County), to the historic period, at the Madie Carroll House in Guyandotte (ca. 1850 CE, Cabell County).  In addition to gaining practical knowledge of archaeological field techniques, students learn about our state’s long past, from the earliest Native American nomadic foragers and their journey towards becoming settled farmers, to the first Euro-American and African-American colonists who established the communities we live in today.

No previous experience is required to enroll in ANT 323, only an interest of things past, a curiosity of how we got to where we are today, and a taste for detective work.  And yes, getting very dirty in the process.  It is hard work, often tedious, but always rewarding.

For more information on the MU Archaeological Fieldschool, contact the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Smith Hall Room 727 or call 304-696-6700.

Oral History of Appalachia Collection

The Oral History of Appalachia Collection (OHAC) is comprised of over two thousand interviews conducted in Appalachia, largely within the state of West Virginia, over the last 40 years.  Many of these interviews have been converted from analog tape to digital format for archiving purposes and have been fully cataloged as holdings of the Marshall University Morrow Library Special Collections Department.  Many interviews also have full transcripts available.  The OHAC represents a tremendous resource for students in the department interested in local and regional history, culture, and society.  The collection is available for student research ranging from coursework, undergraduate capstone projects, to graduate research including the Masters thesis.  Indeed, given limited funds required to continue operational work in the archive, including further format conversion, cataloging, and transcription, there are opportunities to contribute to this valuable resource and to aid future scholarship while conducting your own projects as a student at Marshall.  The OHAC receives oversight through an interdisciplinary collective of scholars committed to encouraging and maintaining investigation into the living history of the Tri-State region.  Dr. Brian A. Hoey serves as a member on this board.  Marshall Special Collections has over 600 oral histories available for use. To consult a full directory, you’ll need to go to Special Collections. To consult the holdings that are listed on MILES (the Libraries’ catalog) use “Marshall University Oral History of Appalachia” as the author’s name. Alternatively, you may type in “Oral History” and “Appalachia” as key words. For a complete list type in “OH” on MILES under “basic search” and “call number.”

The West Virginia Collection

A regional collection of published materials that deals with West Virginia and surrounding states, particularly Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. The collection also emphasizes the Appalachian Region, as well as the American Civil War. The collection includes books, journals, state documents, newspapers, a vertical file of newspaper clippings and pamphlets, maps, phone books, and microforms.


We also have a graduate and undergraduate student study area/lounge and a seminar room are located on the 5th floor of Smith Hall, rooms 527 & 528.

You can learn more about these and other resources for students interested in the Anthropology Program in the Student Handbook