About The Cemetery Researcher
I’m a 24 year old archaeologist from Birmingham, UK. I studied for my undergraduate degree in Geology and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham between 2008-2011, graduating with a first class honours degree. My undergrad dissertation was entitled ‘Famous Faces at Pere Lachaise; The monumentality and location of the graves of influential individuals at Père Lachaise and their effect on later cemetery development’. In order to expand upon this research I enrolled on a master’s programme to gain an MPhil in Archaeological Practice, also at the University of Birmingham and was lucky enough to be given funding via a college scholarship. It very quickly became clear that my topic was going to require more words than an MPhil thesis could possibly contain and was successful in upgrading to PhD in June 2012. My time during the MPhil course having not been entirely wasted as I was taught, (and was marginally successful in learning) GIS techniques for mapping, which have since been used to interpret my thesis data. I was unable to secure funding for my PhD I began working part-time in July. I soon realised that the pace I was trying to work at was unsustainable and transferred to part-time status shortly afterwards. I’m now hoping to complete my PhD in 2016.
Another area which fascinates me is Human Osteology. I was lucky enough to be lectured in this area by Megan Brickley at Birmingham before her move to take a Professorship at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. In April 2013 I completed an Introduction to Human Osteology course at Bournemouth University and hope to continue my studies in this area in the future.
In addition to my personal research into 19th century cemeteries, my undergraduate degree also provided me with an opportunity to study the funerary practice of several periods ranging from Prehistoric Britain and Ancient Egypt to the late medieval period in Europe. During my geology classes I also learned a great deal about identifying rock types in the field with nothing but a hand-lens and pen-knife; this has stood me in good stead when identifying memorial materials and assessing their risk from weathering/erosion. Palaeontology modules also provided me with a good grounding in comparative anatomy which proved invaluable when starting my Human Osteology studies!
I was a volunteer with the Moseley Society Local History Group and from March 2014 I joined their team as a local historian, co-ordinating the WWI project. My work with the history group has provided me with a range of skills including training in genealogy research, experience in the digitization of archives, writing and editing local history publications, marketing both in print and online, and also public speaking.
I am currently employed my Birmingham Museum’s Trust, starting in April 2014 as a Visitor Services Assistant at Sarehole Mill and Aston Hall, later also working at Thinktank and BMAG. In October 2014 I began a 6 month internship at the Museum Collection Centre. The variety of roles I have worked in for the trust have given me some experience in all aspects of museum work and I’m excited to continue my curatorial training this winter!