Society for Historical Archaeology
2007 John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology
Recipient: Carol McDavid

Society for Historical Archaeology presents Carol McDavid with the
2007 John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology

Carol McDavid and Doug Scott 2007

Williamsburg, Virginia (January, 16, 2007) – Dr. Carol McDavid of Houston, Texas has been selected by the Society for Historical Archaeology to receive the 2007 John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology. Each year, the Society for Historical Archaeology presents the John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology to an individual in the first five years of their career in recognition of a single, outstanding achievement. Dr. McDavid is being honored with the 2007 award in recognition of her outstanding achievement using historical archaeology to engage local communities. By pairing new research theories with Internet technology, Dr. McDavid has changed the way archaeologists both learn about and share archaeological research with the public.

Dr. McDavid's research focuses on broadening the stories that can be told about African American archaeology sites. For her first project, she engaged the public in interpreting African American life in mid-19th century rural Texas, as part of the Levi Jordan Plantation Project in Brazoria. Archaeological research at the plantation, established in 1848, has recovered evidence relating to the activities of all those who once lived and worked there, including the enslaved laborers. McDavid set up interactive Internet web pages, where members from the contemporary local community helped the archaeologists write the site's history. This process involved descendants of the original plantation owner's family as well as the enslaved workers on the plantation. Through these interactive web pages, community members added oral history recollections about the plantation and worked with archaeologists to decide how to publicly interpret the recovered artifacts and artifact contexts. The original web pages are archived at, and plans to update them are underway.

McDavid's research model for community involvement using Internet technology earned her a Masters Degree in Anthropology at the University of Houston and later a Doctorate in Archaeology at Cambridge University in England. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Levi Jordan Plantation Historical Society, where she provides ongoing input related to the organization's public archaeology programs. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Harris County Heritage Society. McDavid is currently Project Director for Public Archaeology at the Yates Community Archaeology Project of the Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum in Houston's 4th Ward. This heritage program focuses on the history and preservation of Freedman's Town, a vibrant late-19th century African American community whose residents comprise some of Houston's founding citizens.

For further information on Carol McDavid or for background information on the above mentioned community archaeology programs contact:

Carol McDavid
Project Director for Public Archaeology
Yates Community Archaeology Project
Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum, Inc.

To Learn More…

  • Society for Historical Archaeology
    The Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) is the largest scholarly group concerned with the archaeology of the making of our modern world, A.D. 1400 to the present. The Society’s 2500 professional and avocational members seek to identify, excavate, interpret, and conserve archaeological sites and artifacts that are found on land and underwater.
  • The John L. Cotter Award In Historical Archaeology
    Established as the third societal award by the Society for Historical Archaeology in 1998, this award is named for John Lambert Cotter (1911-1999), a pioneer in historical archaeology education and an advocate for the discipline. Cotter was the first President of the Society (1968), first editor of the discipline’s professional journal Historical Archaeology, the excavator of Jamestown, Virginia (1953-1957) and the chief architect of behind the development of urban archaeology (in Philadelphia in the 1970s). This award however refers to its namesake’s long career as a teacher and his lifelong support of each new generation of scholars that entered the discipline. Cotter, who taught the first formal course in historical archaeology in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania, kept his door always open to Penn undergraduates, hobbyist archaeologists, high school students, and the general public, as well as his own graduate students. His influence on the younger generation of scholars extends across North America and spans more than five decades.

Updated 06/01/2007