Nerissa Conklin, a May 2023 SUNY Oswego anthropology graduate, created an exhibit currently on display at the Richardson-Bates House Museum about the university’s archaeological field school during summer 2022. 

The field school at the museum involved archaeology students from SUNY Oswego excavated a variety of items at the local landmark. Conklin was among the participating students and created the exhibition while later interning with the organization.

Researchers found faunal (animal-related) pieces, ceramics and more while digging into areas including an old midden, or trash heap. One key achievement was discovering an old privy, or outhouse.

“The text in the exhibit describes the dig process from start to finish, as well as some of the major finds that were made, such as the discovery of the privy in the backyard near the garage,” Conklin said. “As far as artifacts go, I made the decision to display as many artifact types that I could; this included ceramics, glass, shell, metal and faunal remains.”

Conklin concluded two internships with the Oswego County Historical Society, which allowed her to work with the organization's historic Richardson-Bates House Museum to create the exhibit.

During her internships, Conklin was able to work with the Oswego community when she hosted an "Antiques Roadshow"-type event at the museum for people to bring artifacts to learn more about these items and the history of Oswego. Conklin and others involved in the research used these items to try and pinpoint what time period the items may have been from. 

“Working with the Oswego community was a great experience! Participants were very willing to talk with me about the artifacts they had brought in and how they had found them. Due to the location of the collections event, they were also able to make connections with the Oswego County Historical Society, which hopefully helped to foster stronger ties between participants and the history of their community,” said Conklin. 

Looking to her future, where she will be pursuing her master’s in anthropology at the University of Denver in the fall, Conklin appreciates the experiences she was able to have through her work with the Oswego County Historical Society and the Richardson-Bates House Museum. 

“All of the projects I've completed in the past two years have provided me with invaluable experiences that will give me a competitive advantage in my future endeavors,” Conklin said. “Undergraduate students often do not get the same opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to have had so early on in my career; so to have these experiences under my belt and continue to build upon them will make me a more desirable candidate in the field of anthropology and museum studies.” 

The Richardson-Bates House Museum, 135 East Third St in Oswego, is open to the public April through December on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition is expected to run into summer. For more information on this or other programs at the museum, email

-- Written by Lila Boudissa of the Class of 2023