The research design is based on a three year plan to document the Maple Leaf and conduct limited excavation within the hull. The purpose is to gather information on the hull and cargo necessary for planning future investigations that can address specific research questions. It will also provide valuable new information about Civil War social history, material culture, and early Great Lakes steamboat construction.
The research design will address several overlapping objectives:
- Promote general public awareness and education of the Maple Leaf Project.
- Develop an archaeological report addressing all past activities on the site up to 1992.
- Gather environmental data that contributes to a better understanding of the site formation processes, preservation conditions, and working conditions on the site.
- Gather historical background information to document the Maple Leaf's sailing career.
- Conduct an archaeological survey of the hull and excavate in the forward cargo hold.
- Conserve recovered artifacts with procedures developed in consultation with professional conservators familiar with the treatment of waterlogged material.
- Publish an annual report on field, historical and conservation research available to the professional and public audience.
- Publish a final report at the conclusion of the project.
These objectives encompass work that will be accomplished by faculty, staff and students of East Carolina University, personnel and volunteers of Saint Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc., the United States Army Center for Military History, and independent consultants. The research design, introduced here in detail, is presented as a yearly schedule.