Black Historian at the University of Texas Gains Landmark Status for a Town Founded by Her Great-Great-Grandfather

Juliet E.K. Walker is professor of history and the founder and director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship, and Technology at the University of Texas at Austin. Over the past several decades Professor Walker’s extensive research has documented the history and location of New Philadelphia, Illinois, a town founded in 1836 by Frank McWorter, a former slave. The town was the first geographic place registered by an African American. McWorter was Professor Walker’s great-great-grandfather.

About 160 people lived in the town at one point. But when the railroad was placed on a route that bypassed New Philadelphia, the town slowly lost population and eventually became farmland. Professor Walker’s research located the site and several archeological digs have occurred there in recent years.

Now Professor Walker’s efforts have been rewarded with the designation of National Historic Landmark status for the New Philadelphia site. This is one of only 2,500 such designations in the United States.