Laura Masur


  • Anthropology
  • School

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Expertise

  • Historical and environmental archaeology
  • Public and community archaeology
  • Jesuit missions
  • Chesapeake and Middle Atlantic
  • Languages

  • English, Spanish, and French.
  • Dr. Masur received her Ph.D. from Boston University's Archaeology Program and Department of Anthropology in 2019, and an MA in Anthropology from the College of William and Mary in 2013. She conducts research on archaeological and museum collections from across North America, and has worked with Colonial Williamsburg, Alexandria Archaeology, the Fairfield Foundation, Historic St. Mary’s City, and the Smithsonian Institution.

    Dr. Masur’s research focuses on the archaeology of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania from 1600 to the present. Her current project, Priestly Plantations: An Archaeology of Jesuit Missions in North America, explores the complex material world of Jesuit priests, who acted as both slave-owning planters and missionaries in the colonial and modern Middle Atlantic. The project synthesizes archaeological collections from southern Maryland and central Pennsylvania, integrated with historical and archival evidence of agriculture and labor management, to show connections between plantations and Catholic communities.

    Dr. Masur teaches Introduction to Archaeology (ANTH 108), Anthropology of Religion (ANTH 260), Historical Archaeology (ANTH 321) and Cultural Heritage of Native America (ANTH 324).

    View CV

    Selected Publications

    Laura E. Masur, “Plantation as Mission: American Indians, Enslaved Africans, and Jesuit Missionaries in Maryland,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 8, no. 3 (2021): 385-407. doi:10.1163/22141332-0803P003

    Stephan T. Lenik and Laura E. Masur, “Introduction: The Archaeology of Jesuit Sites in the Americas,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 8, no. 3 (2021): 341-354. doi:10.1163/22141332-0803P001

    Laura E. Masur, “A Spiritual Inheritance: Black Catholics in Southern Maryland.” In Engaging Sources: The Tradition and Future of Collecting History in the Society of Jesus (Chestnut Hill: Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, 2021). doi:10.51238/ISJS.2019.10

    Laura E. Masur, "Symbol or Presence? Archaeology and the Materiality of Catholic Devotions," U.S. Catholic Historian 38, no. 2 (2020): 1-21, doi:10.1353/cht.2020.0009.

    Laura E. Masur and Aaron F. Miller, “Tempering Our Expectations: Drinking, Smoking, and the Economy of a Western Massachusetts ‘Farmstead-Tavern,’” Northeast Historical Archaeology 49 (2019), 148-170.

    "Poignant Memories, Enduring Legacies: Honoring Ancestors through Archaeological Research." University Research Day Presentation, Catholic University of America. April 2021.

    "Three Rosaries, Three Centuries." Institute for Human Ecology, Catholic University of America. April 2021.

    Priestly Plantations: What we know (and want to find out) about the archaeology of Jesuit sites in Maryland.” Public lecture at Maryland Historical Trust/Archaeological Society of Maryland Spring Symposium. August 2020 (delayed and moved online due to COVID-19).

    "Why Maryland? A Curious Tale of Jesuit Priests and an Unlikely Mission." Public Lecture at Historic St. Mary's City. St. Mary's City, Maryland. September 19, 2019.

    "Decade Ring."Curator's Choice Artifact Series. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. August 2019.

    “‘Taking the discipline’ at St. Inigoes Plantation: A Cilice from Priest’s Point.Curator's Choice Artifact Series. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. January 2017.