Scholars Spending the Summer Unearthing Early African-American History

Now that classes at many universities have finished for the academic year, many university scholars are out in the field conducting research. In several instances, archaeologists are currently undertaking projects to unearth African-American history.

In Illinois, researchers are examining farmland, which is the site of New Philadelphia. This archaeology dig began in 2002 and continues this summer. The settlement was founded in 1836 on prairie land in western Illinois by former slave Frank McWhorter. At its height, there were 29 families in New Philadelphia with a total population of about 160 people. Archaeologists from the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois have been involved in the dig.

Scholars from the University of Maryland and Elizabeth City State University are hoping to document the history of the Underground Railroad in the area around New Bern, North Carolina.

In Richmond, Virginia, archaeologists are digging up a parking lot in an attempt to find the remnants of Lumpkin’s Jail. The jail was a holding pen for slaves awaiting auction. The research is being conducted by the James River Institute for Archaeology in Williamsburg.