My name is Brandi Alvin and being a museum anthropologist who studies Black museums is such an honor. As a young African American, it is very intriguing to discover and collect all of the information and artifacts that I do. For example, the archaeology of the South Carolina Low country. It holds extremely essential knowledge about the African Diaspora, more particularly life on the plantations and life as a slave. The information about the Gullah that has been collected by museum anthropologists has given us knowledge about the people, the language, the community, the culture, the history, etc. When we develop a better understanding of the Gullah (and black history, in general), we have a better understanding of ourselves, our community, and how things of today have come about. Being an anthropologist is also a very important, rewarding job because not only are you making discoveries for your job, but you’re also providing information to the people (more importantly in this case, African American people), about their ancestors and the place they live. It’s vital to know about your past and where/what you come from. And being an anthropologist who studies Black Museums, I am pleasured to provide my people and also myself with such fascinating knowledge. When I learned the work of the Women of Irene Mound, I am astounded. These black women were so strong, hard-working, and iconic. The field excavation crew, made up entirely of African American women, took over two years to uncover the structure in its entirety. Today, we have much more knowledge about the Native Americans who built and used the mound than we do about the African American women who excavated it. It actually turned out to be the largest project undertaken in Savannah and today, is a significant part of history. It’s just so life-changing to find out more about your ancestors and your origin; it makes your life feel more complete. Also, in the process of doing this research, we try and work on the preservation of all Black Museums, to continue the success of these historic findings. And in doing so, we will increase the chances of younger generations knowing about their older generations and they will be able to pass it down and keep it going, because they have knowledge of them. More specifically, my main goal is to work on the preservation of the Kiah House Museum. This is not to say that other museums are less important, but being that I live in Savannah and I know that this very historic museum is no longer in business, I feel that this is a priority. If I could find a way to restore, reopen, and preserve it forever, I would definitely do so. This task is not out of reach though; with a willing and motivated group of people, it can be done! Savannah is such a historic place and this museum held so many precious artifacts. So, to be able to get back in there and see these hidden jewels, would just be heart-warming. I love my job as an anthropologist and what it allows me to do for others!
The Women of the Irene Mound. Whalen, Gail. 29 Oct. 2015. http://www.sip.armstrong.edu/Irene/Irene.html
Kiah, Virginia. The Johnson Collection. 04 Jan 2015. 29 Oct. 2015. http://thejohnsoncollection.org/virginia-kiah/