• Floodplain site

    Main floodplain site where the students dig.

  • French Medallion

    French medallion found at the fort site in 2016.

  • Dr. Nassaney Teaching the students

    Dr. Nassaney showing the students how to look at different soil patterns. 

  • A gun side plate in the palm of a hand

    A fragment of a decorative side plate from a French trading gun

  • 2016 Field students and staff

2019 News

Registration is underway for youth and lifelong learners to participate in camps at the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project in Niles. 

Sponsored by Western Michigan University and the city of Niles, the summer camp program provides an opportunity for the public to engage in history and search for evidence at the Fort St. Joseph archeology site. Led by Tim Bober, WMU public education instructor, participants spend a week discovering the extensive history of Fort St. Joseph and work alongside University students conducting on-site excavations, wet screening, mapping and analysis of recovered artifacts.

An approved continuing education program, the lifelong learner camps offer adult students three WMU graduate credits, nine State Board Continuing Education Units in Michigan, credits for recertification in Illinois, or credits applicable toward the Professional Growth Plan in Indiana. 


Applications are also available at nilesmi.org until all camps are filled. The camp fee is $150 and scholarships may be available.


Lectures from curators and conservators begin on July 10 and continue every Wednesday through July 31.  The lectures will take place at 7 P.M. at the Niles District Library (620 E Main, Niles, MI 49120).

Archaeologists from WMU pinpointed the fort's location during an initial survey in 1998. Excavations began in 2002, when WMU began conducting its annual archaeological field school at the fort site. Since then, faculty researchers and students at the University have continued working to uncover and interpret the fort's physical remains.

First established as a mission in the 1680s by French Jesuits, the fort was one of the earliest European settlements in the western Great Lakes region. It was an important part of a chain of settlements that facilitated the fur trade between Native Americans and the French, and it took on the roles of garrison and trading post during the first half of the 18th century.

For more information about the camp program, contact Mollie Watson at (269) 845-4054 ext. 4013 or mwatson@nilesmi.org, Timothy Bober at (616) 581-6729, or visit wmich.edu/fortstjoseph.

2019 Open House

The 2019 Open House will take place on Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4 from 10 A.M. until 4 P.M.
Open House Flyer

2020 Application for the Archaeological Field School

Stay tuned for the 2020 field school application.

2020 Field positions in archaeology

Stay tuned for the 2020 field position application.

2018 Fort St. Joseph Annual Report

Annual Report

The Fort St. Joseph Post

Recent news about the ongoing research, projects and alumni of Fort St. Joseph.

Videos of Public Archaeology at Fort St. Joseph