Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Philadelphia Archaeological Project Field School 2010

New Philadelphia Archaeological Research Project Field School in Archaeology and Laboratory Techniques Summer 2010

May 24, 2010 to July 30, 2010.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program (NSF-REU)

** Application Deadline: for best consideration -- March 19, 2010.

Application forms and additional information are available online at:

Additional background information is available from the project web
pages, at:

** Field School Objectives
The New Philadelphia story is both compelling and unique. Many studies
in historical archaeology that concentrate on African-American issues
have focused on plantation life and the pre-emancipation era. The
history of New Philadelphia is very different. It is a chronicle of racial
uplift and centering on the success of an African-American family and
their ability to survive and prosper in a racist society. In 1836, Frank
McWorter, an African American who was born into slavery and later
purchased his own freedom, acquired 42 acres of land in the sparsely
populated area of Pike County, Illinois, situated in the rolling hills
bounded by the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. He founded and platted a
town, subdivided the property, and sold lots. McWorter used the
revenues from his entrepreneurial efforts to purchase the freedom of
sixteen family members, with a total expenditure of $14,000 (over
$350,000 in today's currency value) -- a remarkable achievement.

Families of African American and European heritage moved to New
Philadelphia and created a multi-racial community. Local residents likely
provided "safe house" service for the "Underground railroad" as
enslaved African Americans fled northward escaping the oppression of
southern plantations. The history of New Philadelphia serves as a rare
example of a multi-racial early farming community on the nation's
Midwestern frontier (Walker 1983). The town's population reached its
peak of about 160 people in 29 households after the Civil War, a size
comparable to many Pike County communities today. However, by the
end of the century racial and corporate politics of America's gilded age
resulted in the death knell for the settlement: regional transportation
investors routed a new railroad line to pass several miles to the north
of the town. Many of New Philadelphia's residents eventually moved
away and, by the early 20th century, only a few families remained
(Walker 1983).

A collaborative project of archaeologists, historians, and members of
the local and descendant communities is underway to further research
the social history of this demographically integrated town and to
enhance its focus in our national memory and heritage. Participating
organizations include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
and Springfield, the Illinois State Museum, University of North Carolina,
the University of Maryland's Center for Heritage Resource Studies, the
University of Central Florida's Public History Program, and the New
Philadelphia Association. Sprague's Kinderhook Lodge has also provided
generous support.  The town site of New Philadelphia is now designated
as a National Historic Landmark based on its significant archaeological
resources and exceptional value to our national heritage.

This NSF-REU sites program will help enhance undergraduate education
in scientific methods and analyses in an ongoing long-term project at
New Philadelphia. The primary goals of the project are to: 1)
Understand the town's founding and development as a multi-racial
integrated town; 2) Explore and contrast dietary patterns between
different households of different ethnic backgrounds by examining
faunal and botanical remains; 3) Reconstruct the townscape and town
lot uses of different households from different ethnic backgrounds using
botanical data and archaeological landscape features; 4) Elucidate the
different consumer choices residents of different ethnic backgrounds
made in a frontier situation and understand how household choices
changed with the increased connection to distant markets and changing
perceptions of racialization within the society.

The excavation and analysis of artifacts and archaeobiology data will
provide students with a hands-on learning experience and mentoring
process for students in an interdisciplinary setting. Ultimately, these
different data sets will be integrated and the students will gain an
understanding of the importance of scientific interdisciplinary research
as they examine the growth and development of the town. This
research will elucidate how individual members and families of this
integrated community made choices to create their immediate
environment, diet, agricultural practices, social affiliation, and consumer

** Archaeological and Research Setting
New Philadelphia in Pike County, Illinois is situated between the Illinois
and Mississippi rivers. Today, most of the original 42 acres have been
returned to agricultural use. Only a few scattered house foundations are
visible in the plowed fields.

This archaeology project serves as an excellent opportunity for students
to participate in many aspects of a scientific research program.
Students will be divided into teams and they will work collaboratively
on an assigned town lot in New Philadelphia. Prior to excavations, each
student will draw from the broader research goals of this project to
create an individual and focused research design to be addressed in the
course of their field school experience. The field school instructors will
teach students about the different archaeological theories used to
formulate such research designs, and the methods, sampling, and
excavation strategies used in archeology to explore those questions.

Each team will be responsible for helping to develop a research design,
retrieving archaeological data (material culture and archaeobiology
data), cleaning and cataloging the materials, data entry, and analyzing
artifacts and archaeobiological materials from one town lot. Student
teams will work closely in a mentorship situation with Illinois State
Museum, Research and Collection Center (ISM-RCC), University of
Illinois, and University of North Carolina staff in order to acquire the
necessary skills to perform scientific research. Each student will
specialize in one form of analysis and they will report on their findings
at the end of the summer session. This information will allow students
to work as a team to reconstruct the landscape and lifeways of
residents of this historic town. Evening lectures will be presented and
the group will take several field trips to local historic sites and
museums during the ten-week course.

** Results
At the end of the course student teams will make a presentation of
their results. Field school staff and members of the community
interested in this archaeology project will be invited to a half-day
symposium to listen to and discuss the results presented by each team
member. The presentation will allow for the dissemination of new
information as well as group assessment and constructive critique of
the work of each field school participant and the overall project. With
the help of field school instructors, this presentation will introduce
students to the skill of public speaking and it will help provide them the
techniques for communicating scientific results to a public audience.
After this presentation and discussion, student teams will assess
evaluations and create a strategy on how to best present this work to
other audiences. They can also provide their assessments of the
priorities that should be placed on the various research goals to be
pursued in ongoing historical and archaeological investigations at the
New Philadelphia site.

** Project Location, Facilities and Student Stipends
All students are required to be in Pike County on May 24, 2010, and the
instructions will begin on May 25. New Philadelphia is about 75 miles
west of Springfield, Illinois, and 25 miles east of Hannibal, Missouri.
There are no mass transportation services to the immediate area. The
closest town is Barry, Illinois (population 1400) where students will
stay at the Kinderhook Lodge. Lodging and meals will be provided
during weeks 1-5 while staying in Pike County and students will be
transported to the site every day. During the weekends students with
access to autos are free to travel and explore the region when fieldtrips
are not scheduled. (The Kinderhook Lodge is located between the towns
of Kinderhook and Barry on Rt. 106). During weeks 6-10 students will
move to the dormitories in Springfield, Illinois and work at the ISM-RCC.
This facility provides a state-of-the-art environment and it has vast
collections and high quality research laboratories and offices for
anthropology, botany, geology, and zoology. Students receive a $450
per week stipend paid on a bi-weekly basis, and the NSF-REU grant also
covers the costs of their lodging and meals as described above. Both
lodging and meals are provided during weeks 1-5, and lodging (but not
meals) are provided during weeks 6-10. (The university may be required
to withhold social security tax from each stipend disbursement; we are
working to determine if this is necessary).

** Additional Information
For additional details about this field school opportunity, please visit
the web sites listed above, or contact Chris Fennell by email at
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