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University of Louisville Department of Anthropology receives the National Endowment for the Humanities grant

Cenetria Crockett sits at a desk in front of her is a computer. On her left side is box of artifacts to be cataloged for the database.
Thomas Jennings
Univeristy of Louisville Department of Anthropology
Grad student Cenetria Crockett is one of the people working to create a database so the public can look through artifacts held by the Univeristy of Louisville's Department of Anthropology.

The University of Louisville Department of Anthropology received $50,000 dollars from National Endowment for the Humanities to build a digital database of artifacts.

The database, which is still in its early phases, will focus on items from the lower Ohio River Valley and surrounding areas.

Thomas Jennings is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of U of L’s Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHe), which curates archaeological collections.

For years, Jennings said the university and CACHe have excavated, preserved and protected artifacts they’ve found.

“But one thing that we don't have is a really good collection database that provides a complete record of all the collections that we have,” Jennings said.

He said the database will allow for collections held at U of L to reach a larger audience.

“We want the public and everyone to be able to know what we have, use them in exhibits, maybe libraries, maybe schools, you know, we were protecting these things, but we want them to be used,” Jennings said.

The database will include images, descriptions and 3D scans of items. People will be able to search the database based on region and time period.

Right now, the creation of the database is in the research and development phase.

Cenetria Crockett is a graduate research assistant for the Department of Anthropology. She’s working on creating the site that will eventually hold the database.

“Something really neat about this is that this database is going to be one of the first of the lower Ohio River Valley archives,” Crockett said. “I really hope that people who navigate the new database are able to get a sense of their culture.”

The collections featured in the database include artifacts from Locust Grove and people who were enslaved there as well as pre-contact artifacts from Native American groups from the region.

Jennings and Ashley Smallwood, another professor in the Department of Anthropology, have worked with community stakeholders to ensure those artifacts are properly taken care of.

“Well, in many parts this, this archive is for them,” Smallwood said. “They're the community, they're the stakeholders here and they also, they need to access it.”

Like Crockett, Smallwood said this database will help highlight the deep and vibrant history and culture found in this area of the country.

“That connection to past communities, it brings a richness to the city to Louisville, it brings it to education,” Smallwood said.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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