Facilities and Partnerships 2020-02-19T15:47:01+00:00

Facilities & Partnerships

The Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences has a number of special facilities which provide the social science students a chance to gain hands-on experience with certain methods and techniques that will be important in their careers. The following facilities are managed by the school. Please visit these pages and see the opportunities available to students.

Anthropology Facilities

The Anthropological and Archaeological Training Laboratory has biological specimens (both zoological and anthropomorhic), fossil casts, and biometric tools for the study of physical anthropology. It has all the standard field and laboratory equipment necessary for archaeological survey and excavation projects, including mapping equipment, cameras, hand tools, screens, camping equipment, and microscopes. For ethnographic projects, the lab is equipped with standard field equipment, including tape recorders, cameras, a transcriber, and a cassette copier.

In the Anthropological and Archaeological Training Laboratory, students also have the opportunity to learn cataloging, curation, and conservation techniques by working with actual collections of both prehistoric and historic artifacts. These collections come from the Williamson Museum as well as recent archaeological projects which are on-going.

One of the most pressing problems for archaeologists and museum curators today is the conservation of artifacts of historical significance. Human-made objects of iron, copper, silver, wood, cloth, bone, and other materials will deteriorate over time if steps are not taken to stabilize and preserve them.

In the Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, students study professional methods of conserving artifacts while gaining hands-on experience with a wide range of materials from a variety of archaeological settings. With this experience, these students are able to achieve an understanding of the immediate conservation concerns faced by archaeologists in the field as well as long-term display and storage problems faced by directors of museums and curational facilities.

The Archaeological Conservation Laboratory was initially established as a facility for the stabilization of artifacts recovered from the U.S.S. Eastport, a Civil War gunboat which sank in the Red River near Montgomery, Louisiana in 1864. The responsibilities and goals of the laboratory have since expanded to include the observation and re-treatment of artifacts in the Williamson Museum collections, the conservation and study of selected artifacts from Los Adaes State Commemorative Area, the temporary curation of materials recovered during the course of fieldwork for the Louisiana Army National Guard’s Integrated Cultural Resource Management Program, and the development of new techniques of archaeological conservation. Future projects will include experiments in gas plasma conservation of metal artifacts and the development of an innovative system of wooden artifact conservation.

Director: Dr. Tommy Hailey

The responsibilities of the staff of the Cultural Resource Office (Kyser Hall, Room 137) at Northwestern State University include the acquisition and management of grant projects in the areas of anthropology, history, historical preservation, and cultural resource management. The Cultural Resource Office provides NSU Anthropology majors with opportunities to gain important experience in the field of cultural resource management.

The Archaeological Conservation Lab is administered by the Cultural Resource Office and is utilized for the conservation and curation of archaeological materials. Currently, all artifacts associated with the Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan are managed through this lab.

The Heritage Resources Laboratory facility allows students training in the proper use of field and research equipment, such as cameras, audio and video recorders, and appropriate computer programs for heritage resources projects. It serves as a unit for individualized and small-group instruction involving oral history auditing, editing, transcription, and indexing techniques; artifact and historic photograph study and analysis through slides or direct observation; and manuscript analysis with the assistance of data bases, microfilm, overhead projection, and VCR programming. It provides students ready access to a small, specialized, and current library of tapes, slides, texts, manuals, and technical pamphlets for in-house use. This laboratory offers students a quiet, well equipped environment to pursue their individual research projects, with out-of-class access to computers, microfilm readers, and transcribers.
The establishment of the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center was part of a five-year plan initiated by the St. Augustine Historical Society, a Natchitoches parish based group. The society was formed over 25 years ago to promote and preserve the Creole culture. Although its initial focus was the community of Cane River, it has broadened its range to include the entire state of Louisiana as well as Creole colonies located nation-wide.
The Williamson Museum is primarily an archaeological/ethnological museum. Its collection policy has focused on archaeological materials from northern and central Louisiana, and the museum serves as a state and federal repository for archaeological collections for the region. The ethnological collection efforts have concentrated on material from the eastern United States. The museum has an exceptional collection of southeastern tribal material.

The core of the archaeological collection is the extensive material donated by the late Dr. Clarence H. Webb of Shreveport, Louisiana. The artifacts in this collection formed the basis for Webb’s development of the prehistoric Caddoan archaeological sequence in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. With approximately 300,000 catalogued lots, this collection is one of the most important in the southeastern U.S.

The ethnological collections, especially the extensive material donated by the late Claude Medford, Jr. of Natchitoches, Louisiana, include artifacts from forty-one southern and eastern Native American tribes and communities. These ethnological collections serve as a catalyst for student-Native American interaction. These materials are used as study collections not only by scholars, but also by tribal people interested in maintaining or revitalizing their traditions. Recently, a collection of baskets representing a wide variety of Native American tribes was donated by the Malmbergs.

At NSU, students are engaged not only in collection preservation and analysis, but also with administrative policy and the public. Students receive actual experience with both archaeological and ethnographic materials curation and conservation.

Basket Day

This event is held annually on the first Saturday in December. The Williamson Museum hosts Native American crafts people and artisans in a major sale-show. For over twenty years, this event has provided Louisiana Indians with a viable outlet to keep traditional crafts alive.

Since 1989, Northwestern State University has hosted the Regional Archaeology Program through an ongoing grant agreement with the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, Division of Archaeology. The program covers thirteen parishes in northwest Louisiana including Caddo, Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Bienville, DeSoto, Red River, Sabine, Natchitoches, Winn, Grant, Vernon, and Rapides.

Jeffrey Girard serves as the regional archaeologist. He works with landowners in the identification and preservation of cultural resources on private land, carries out research projects in areas where little information is available, and promotes awareness of cultural resources through public presentations throughout northwestern Louisiana. Students, members of the Louisiana Archaeological Society, and other public volunteers assist with both field and laboratory work.

Recent projects include study of Late Prehistoric Caddoan settlements in Caddo and Bossier Parishes, excavations at a 1400-year-old Woodland period mound site in Natchitoches Parish, and investigations in Bienville Parish at a buried Archaic midden that dates approximately 7500 years ago.

If you would like to know more about archaeological sites or artifacts you have found, are interested in participating in projects, or want general information about the archaeology of northwest Louisiana please contact regional archaeologist Jeffrey Girard at (318) 357-5471.

In addition to the above, there are other facilities across campus that support Social Sciences students’ learning experiences at NSU. These include:

The faculty and students of the Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences have opportunities to work with a number of different governmental agencies.  The National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Louisiana Division of Archaeology, and the Louisiana National Guard have funded recent projects.  Graduate students in history may apply for internships with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to gain valuable first-hand experience in cultural resource management and in building and materials conservation and preservation. To learn more about these programs select one or more of the following:

  • Integrated Cultural Resources Management Program
  • Regional Archaeology Program
  • U.S. Forest Service, Kisatchie National Forest has an ongoing intern and research program with the School of Social Sciences. Each year one or more students have an opportunity to work on archaeological cultural resource management projects within the National Forest.