Meet the Archaeologists

Not all archaeologists wear fedoras and carry whips like in the movies. Our real-life heroes are more likely to use trowels and notebooks. Let us take a look at some of the archaeologists featured in the collections of Governor’s House Library:

Hale G. Smith

A black and white photograph of a two story building in the early stages of restoration. A man stands in the lower right hand corner.
Hale G. Smith at Arrivas House in its early stages of restoration around 1960. (UFDC)

Hale G. Smith is well known for his pioneering work in the historical archaeology of Florida. His focus on the Spanish colonial period brought him to St. Augustine – where he led many excavations and field schools over the course of his career. One project included the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board’s first project – Arrivas House – in 1960. Outside of his work in St. Augustine, Smith co-founded the Florida Anthropological Society in 1947. He, also, established Florida State University’s Department of Anthropology in 1951.

Robert “Bob” Steinbach

A black and white photograph of a man brushing a broken ceramic pot on a wooden table.
Robert “Bob” Steinbach examining a ceramic pot in 1962. (UFDC)

Robert “Bob” Steinbach joined the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board in 1961. Steinbach – a former student of Smith’s – jumped into the restoration of Arrivas House. Over the following decades, he led many archaeological digs for the Board. You can see his years of research in preserved buildings throughout the city today (as well as in the collections of the Governor’s House Library).

John Griffin

John Griffin – seated second from the right – attends an eighteenth century meal. (UFDC)

John Griffin is another pioneer of historic archaeology in Florida. Griffin served as the executive historian of the St. Augustine Historical Society from 1954 until 1958. He also participated in the St. Augustine 400th Anniversary Committee. In 1971, Griffin joined the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board as director. Under his leadership, the Board converted Government House into a research facility and established a library. He also recruited historians, curators, and archaeologists. Their service to the community helped form the foundations of Governor’s House Library.

Dr. Kathleen Deagan

A black and white photograph from a newspaper showing two people with a tripod in front of a stone wall and doorway.
Dr. Kathleen Deagan featured in Jacksonville’s Times-Union on December 19, 1974. (UFDC)

Dr. Kathleen Deagan has dug up St. Augustine’s past for nearly half a century. As part of her first job at Florida State University, she led archaeological field schools in St. Augustine. Her first field school occurred at the Avero House in 1977 (a part of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board programs). Since then, Dr. Deagan’s career has taken her to the University of Florida and Florida Museum of Natural History. Throughout her work, she continued to shed light on the daily lives of colonial St. Augustine as well as the Caribbean. Today, Dr. Deagan serves the city as a board member of University of Florida Historic St. Augustine, Inc.

Bruce Piatek

Bruce Piatek speaking at the opening ceremonies of the Government House archaeological dig on January 23, 1993.

From 1987 until 1994, the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board employed Bruce Piatek. He held the titles of city archaeologist as well as museum administrator and research director. Piatek holds the honor of being St. Augustine’s first city archaeologist. He also helped found the St. Augustine Archaeological Association during that time. After 1994, Piatek directed the Florida Agricultural Museum and the Florida Historical Society‘s Archaeological Institute and Brevard Museum.

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