About Us

Mission:  The Rutherford County Archaeological Society serves to educate and foster a deeper appreciation of archaeology, to demonstrate the importance of archaeological research, and to promote the stewardship, preservation, and protection of our historic and prehistoric cultural resources.

The Rutherford County Archaeological Society (RCAS) 501(c)(3) welcomes all who are interested in the realm of archaeology, history, and related fields here in Rutherford County and beyond. 

Originally founded as a Facebook group in November 2014, we held our first meeting in January 2015.

We are a diverse group of varying ages, folks from all walks of life, college students, and professional archaeologists and historians. We are all volunteers and serve the community with educational programs, special events, archaeological research, and projects

We recognize the significance of the past and the lessons it provides. We provide an important presence in the community and work together to promote the preservation of our historic and prehistoric archaeological resources and the cultural heritage that we all share.

Our public meetings  are held on the 4th Saturday of each month at noon at the MTSU Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.  Meetings feature a guest speaker and myriad topics are covered, including prehistoric and historic archaeology, anthropology, history, Native American culture, and other related fields. We also welcome members of the public who would like to share their encounters with archaeology, history, and other cultures. through study, travel, or volunteerism.

 In 2015, we began the first “Archaeology Day” event held in Middle Tennessee. Our free event held annually in September, offers a day of fun and learning through  archaeology displays, activities, crafts, and games.

  In an agreement with the Parks and Recreation Commission of the City of Murfreesboro, we  have “adopted” Murfreesboro’s Old City Cemetery which includes the archaeological remains of the original 1820 First Presbyterian Church and its burying ground. We are leading an ongoing community volunteer project for its conservation, restoration, and public interpretation. 

We follow the principles and ethics of professional archaeology as outlined in the Society for American Archaeology and the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology.

RCAS Organization (All Volunteers)


  • Founder/President: Laura Bartel, M.A.
  • Vice Presidents:  W. Matthew Whitten, Peggy Paulson
  • Secretary: Olivia Thompson
  • Treasurer: Kim Cherry

Advisory Board

  • Dr. Kevin E. Smith
  • Dr. Carrol Van West
  • Dr. Tanya Peres Lemons
  • Dr. Shannon Chappell Hodge
  • Dr. Lydia Simpson
  • Michael Fletcher
  • Phillip Hodge, M.A.
  • Toye Heape, (Native American Advisor)
  • Michelle Willard (Public Relations)

Old City Cemetery Project

  • Director: Laura Bartel, M.A.
  • Cemetery Conservationist: Dan Allen, M.A.
  • Crew Chiefs: W. Matthew Whitten, Olivia Thompson
  • Genealogy Research: Peggy Paulson
  • RCAS Members and Community Volunteers 

RCAS Committee Chairs:

  • Old City Cemetery: Peggy Paulson
  • Archaeology Day Event:  Joey O’Dell, Olivia Thompson,
  • Membership: Olivia Thompson
  • Fundraising: Clelie Cottle Peacock

Website Coordinator

  •  Peggy Paulson