My Story

My Story: A Summer Internship at the QAR Lab

Besty shares her experiences interning in our lab

Author: Betsy Williams, QAR Lab Intern

Betsy Williams

My name is Betsy Williams, and I am a senior archaeology student at East Carolina University. This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend 10 weeks at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Lab through an internship program sponsored by the Department of Administration and the Council for Women & Youth Involvement. Like most other archaeologists, my interest piqued when I was very young. I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, so the Smithsonian museums (as well as Annapolis’s rich history) were a staple in my childhood. My mother always insisted on taking educational trips a few times a month, and I fell in love with the history of the past. My interests started with dinosaurs; I could name every dinosaur in the Museum of Natural History by age four. As I got older and into high school, I became enamored by human history and wanted to understand everything about human evolution. I went into my freshman year of college as a political science major, but luckily, I took three anthropology courses my fall semester. I lasted maybe a month as a political science major, then jumped ship to anthropology with a focus in archaeology. It was 100% the right decision.

Betsy in Bath

Now, as a senior in college, my biggest challenge is finding and applying to the right graduate program. Prior to my internship at QAR, I was lucky enough to be part of an archaeological field school through ECU in the summer of 2022. Our project was an 18th-century merchant cellar in the north yard of the Palmer-Marsh House in Bath, North Carolina. My specific interests include historical archaeology (specifically the American colonial period) and I’m also fascinated by ceramics, so this site was really interesting for me! Field school taught me so much about being on a site: proper excavation techniques, artifact handling skills, and the importance of diligent documentation.

My time at the QAR Lab has been anything but predictable, but that’s what makes it so exciting for me! I have assisted conservators with tasks like solution testing, polyethylene glycol treatments for wood, cannon checks, outreach events, lab tours, and countless solution changeouts for everything ranging in size from a small yogurt container to a 400+ gallon sternpost tank. My more independent tasks mainly consisted of artifact photography and illustration, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m very meticulous by nature, so getting everything perfectly represented was right in my wheelhouse.

Betsy illustrating artifacts

I had such an enjoyable experience this summer that I am now volunteering during the school year to continue immersing myself in all things conservation and Queen Anne’s Revenge! I’m excited to see how much more there is to learn, and it is encouraging to be able to look back on my time as an intern and reflect on how far I have come.

Betsy Williams. Image courtesy of Betsy Williams. Used with permission.
Betsy on site in Bath, NC. Image courtesy of Betsy Williams. Used with permission.
Besty illustrating artifacts. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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