University Libraries.


« Therapy Dogs Return to the Science Library | Main

Marilyn Masson, PhD: Albany, Archaeology, and the Underground Railroad

Minerva - UAlbany Libraries


January 22, 2019

Contacts: Trudi E. Jacobson, Head, Information Literacy Department,, (518) 442-3581; Rebecca Mugridge, Dean of University Libraries,, (518) 442-3568.

University Libraries - University At Albany

Marilyn Masson, PhD:
Albany, Archaeology, and the Underground Railroad

Photo of Marilyn Masson,PhD, Professor of Anthropology, University at Albany


Marilyn Masson, PhD, Professor of Anthropology, will deliver the first “Campus Conversations in Standish” talk of the spring 2019 semester with a presentation titled “Researching African American Lifeways in Nineteenth Century Albany: Findings of the Underground Railroad Archaeology Project 2017-2018.”

The event will take place on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 12:35-1:30 p.m. Rescheduled due to weather - new date TBA in the Science Library’s Patricia and J. Spencer Standish Board Room. All are welcome. Complimentary refreshments will be provided.

Under the auspices of the UAlbany Archaeology Field School program, undergraduate students, faculty, and collaborators investigated two downtown historical archaeological sites in Albany in 2017 and 2018, with the goal of reconstructing lifeways of African Americans in our community in two very different contexts. The first context represented the summer living quarters and kitchen workspace of enslaved persons at the Ten Broeck Mansion prior to 1820. The second context was that of the Stephen and Harriett Myers residence, home to leaders of Albany's abolitionist movement in the mid-1800s. This research unearthed features such as walls, concentrated trash deposits, and a cistern; ongoing laboratory analysis now reveals similarities and differences in subsistence, consumption patterns, wealth, and items of specific importance to African American social identity. This talk summarizes the highlights of this recent collaborative project, much aided by the ongoing commitments of undergraduate researchers and two local stakeholder agencies who support this work, including the Albany County Historical Society (Ten Broeck) and the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region (Stephen and Harriett Myers site). This research has an important public outreach component and contributes more broadly to understanding our community's history.

Dr. Masson's research focuses on the archaeology of Mesoamerica, specifically urban life and social transformations at the last Maya area Pre-Columbian political capital of Mayapán, Yucatan, Mexico. In 2017 and 2018, she started a new project in historical downtown Albany, titled the “Underground Railroad Archaeology Project” that investigates lifeways of African Americans in the early and mid-nineteenth centuries at two downtown sites. The latter project was conducted with the help of UAlbany archaeology field school students and is co-directed with Dr. Michael Lucas of the New York State Museum and Matthew Kirk, a doctoral student at UAlbany.

She is the author of In the Realm of Nachan Kan: Postclassic Maya Archaeology at Laguna de On, Belize (2000) and Kukulcan's Realm:Urban Life at Ancient Mayapán (with Carlos Peraza Lope, 2014). She has edited four additional books, two of which are in press. Dr. Masson also currently serves as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research in the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education.

Launched by the University Libraries in spring 2015 and held two to three times per semester, “Campus Conversations in Standish” raise awareness of UAlbany faculty research and expertise while connecting members of the UAlbany community and beyond in an exchange of ideas and perspectives. “Campus Conversations in Standish” are free and open to the public and are held on selected Wednesdays, 12:35-1:30 p.m. in the Patricia and J. Spencer Standish Board Room on the third level of the Science Library.

About the University at Albany Libraries
The University Libraries comprise the University Library, the Science Library, and the Dewey Graduate Library. A member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the 124 largest, most comprehensive research libraries in North America (, the University at Albany Libraries serve the University’s students, faculty, and staff to further their academic achievement and success, as well as the citizens of New York State, and scholars and researchers from around the world. For up-to-date information about the University Libraries, visit

University Libraries' Mobile Website.
University Libraries YouTube Page.
The University Libraries' Pintrest site!
University Libraries' Twitter Feed.
University Libraries' Facebook Page.