Charlie Cockburn ’11 Traces History of the Battle of Haverhill at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology

For Charlie Cockburn ’11, the first student presenter at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, childhood stories of the Roman Empire and its downfall fueled his interest in history and archaeology. Cockburn presented his research of the Battle of Haverhill and the events leading up to the conflict to the Massachusetts Archaeological Society. The Battle of Haverhill was a part of the Queen Anne’s War, which was fought between the French and the British. During the Battle, Captain John Gardner of Britain found on the battlefield a bone spoon. On the back of the bone spoon is a small bit of parchment written in ink, presumably by Captain Gardner. The parchment read “Battle of Haverhill.” Captain Gardner’s descendants donated the bone spoon to Peabody Museum, along with a “genealogy of sorts,” according to Cockburn. Marla Taylor, Collections Assistant at the Peabody Museum, finally satiated Cockburn’s desire for more research during his Lower spring when she assigned Cockburn to find out who Captain Gardner was and the context of the spoon’s origins – the Battle of Haverhill. Cockburn has served a work duty student at the Peabody Museum since Lower year. While traversing ancient castles in his yearly trip to Ireland with his Irish father, Charlie could not help but wonder about what came before him. He described the castles and ancient ruins he saw as “tangible manifestations of history [that] spurred [his] interest in archaeology.” His father’s extensive knowledge of history piqued Cockburn’s interest as a young boy. To Cockburn, his father, who studied history in college, was an “amazing source of information who allowed him to learn a lot of history” and prompted him to read history book as a boy. Cockburn’s curiosity was only amplified on his sixth grade trip to Egypt. He said, “[I met] a real life archaeologist, different than Indiana Jones.” After he was assigned the project, Cockburn began his research with a Google Books search. Cockburn began reading through the books he found online, which were written in French and English. Because many of the books were written prior to 1900, and therefore lacked copyrights, he was able to read through complete volumes online, which Cockburn found convenient. Although Cockburn had some starting information with newspaper clippings from the era, he continued to study English propaganda newspapers along with French newspapers, which often had conflicting accounts of the same event. This led Cockburn to verify accounts with other sources. “It’s cool to find out the real reason why something happens,” said Cockburn. In addition, Cockburn studied letters sent between the governor of Boston and the governor of France. The presentation has provided inspiration for Cockburn to venture out into other types of history that he has not yet studied, such as the history of Central America. Cockburn has applied to be a part of the Bilingual Archaeological Learning Adventure in Mesoamerica (B.A.L.A.M.), a yearly trip offered by the Peabody Museum and the Spanish department in which a small group of students studies Mayan civilization and culture in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.