Understanding The Community Benefits Of Municipal Archaeology Programs

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Archaeology‟s ability to recover hidden information about the past creates many opportunities for engagement and collaboration with a variety of community groups. Within this context, few efforts at sustaining long-term relationships with the public have been as successful as the municipal archaeology programs found in Alexandria, VA; St. Augustine, FL; and Phoenix, AZ. For decades, these cities have successfully mixed the enthusiasm and curiosity of local residents, the professional and technical expertise of archaeologists, and the regulatory and structural support of local government in order to produce a variety of place-specific public benefits. Yet despite the sustained success of these programs, they have received surprisingly little attention in academic or professional circles. This dissertation begins an exploration of the social environment that surrounds the municipal archaeology programs in these three cities. The data used are drawn from archival and published sources, as well as from interviews with the members of the public, the archaeologists, and the city staff most strongly associated with the three programs. The historical information brings to the forefront the role of the public in the process of creating each program. In each case, members of a concerned public were responsible for taking the first steps toward making archaeology a city priority, and none of these programs could have taken their current shape or lasted as long as they have without the continued input and participation of private citizens. It also explores how zoning and the development review procedures in each city have been structured to allow for the recovery of archaeological information that would otherwise be destroyed during the construction process. The dissertation identifies some of the ways in which these archaeology programs have shaped other municipal amenities, such as local museums, parks, heritage walks or trails, and public art that interprets local history. This research contributes to the wider discourse linking archaeology and the public, and makes evident some of the ways in which the public benefits from having access to the archaeological process.

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public archaeology; city planning; historic preservation


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Union Local


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Tomlan, Michael Andrew

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Gleason, Kathryn L.
Baugher, Sherene Barbara

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City and Regional Planning

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Ph. D., City and Regional Planning

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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