The Historical Archaeology program has had active research projects ongoing in St. Augustine, Florida, since 1973, and in Hispaniola since 1979. The sites and their collections provide a record of Spanish colonial settlement in the circum-Caribbean region, spanning the period between the arrival of Columbus in 1492 and the end of Spanish dominion in 1821.
The collection consists of more than 2 million excavated specimens from more than 100 sites throughout Florida and Latin America. They include the largest-known systematic collection of Spanish colonial archaeological specimens in the country, representing sites of domestic, military, religious and commercial sites dating from 1492 through the 19th century.
The collection also incorporates archeological specimens from a variety of non-Spanish 18th and 19th century sites, including homesteads, plantations, trading posts, forts and towns.
In addition to systematic collections resulting from excavation, the Historical Archaeology program also maintains extensive collections of type specimens, comparative specimens and published specimens for many architectural items, beads, buttons, ceramics, glassware, pipes and weaponry. These include type collections developed by José Cruxent, Kathleen Deagan, Charles Fairbanks, John Goggin and Florence and Robert Lister. The materials span the period of 1492-1900, and are used extensively as a reference, comparative and teaching collection.