Site of First Town Founded by An African-American May Join National Park System

5200
UNC archaeologist Anna Agbe-Davies directs students at New Philadelphia dig in 2009. Photo Credit: Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum.
UNC archaeologist Anna Agbe-Davies directs students at New Philadelphia dig in 2009. Photo Credit: Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum.

New Philadelphia National Historic Landmark May Join the National Park System

New Philadelphia, Illinois is nationally significant as the first known town legally founded and registered by an African American before the Civil War. Since 2010 this Historic site has been protected as an Archaeological Conservancy research preserve. It may be perhaps the only place to study the relationships of formerly enslaved individuals, free born African Americans, and people of European heritage who lived together in a small, rural community and the effects of interaction between these groups during the time periods it was occupied 1836-1885.

2009 Excavation Team hard at Work, New Philidelphia. Photo Credit: Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum.
2009 Excavation Team hard at Work, New Philidelphia. Photo Credit: Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum.

In a promising move on December 2014 Congress approved and President Obama signed legislation authorizing the National Park Service to study the feasibility of adding the New Philadelphia town site as a unit of the NPS. As is often the case with National Park matters, the study was authorized but not funded. Earlier this month it was announced that funds had finally been made available and the study would begin in late spring 2016. The Midwest Regional Office of the National Park Service will conduct the study and expects to have their report completed by autumn.

2009 Excavation Team Checking the Maps. Photo Credit: Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum.
2009 Excavation Team Checking the Maps. Photo Credit: Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum.

The Archaeological Conservancy looks forward to working with the National Park Service and the New Philadelphia Association, our partners in the preservation of New Philadelphia on this momentous study.

-Paul Gardner, Midwestern Regional Director

Learn More about the History of Our Preserve of New Philadelphia

Read More in our online Back Issues:A NEW LIFE IN NEW PHILADELPHIA, Fall 2008. The town of New Philadelphia was founded by a freed slave in 1836. It was inhabited by blacks and whites during a time of racial strife. Archaeologists are investigating the abandoned town to learn about its race relations. BY MALCOLM GAY

Watch Time Team America from PBS, visit and excavate on site in 2009. Beneath farmlands in Western Illinois lie the remains of New Philadelphia, the first American town founded by a free African American prior to the Civil War. Time Team America was invited to help search for the schoolhouse where New Philadelphia’s African American children learned to read and write in freedom.

Mark Michel, The Archaeological Conservancy President, at New Philadelphia looking at kiosk signage. Photo Credit: Paul Gardner
Mark Michel, The Archaeological Conservancy President, at New Philadelphia looking at kiosk signage. Photo Credit: Paul Gardner

Additional Resources on New Philadelphia

http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/130newphila/index.htm

http://www.histarch.illinois.edu/NP/index.html

http://www.newphiladelphiaillinois.org/

http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/New%20Philadelphia/NewPhiladelphia.htm

http://www.anthro.illinois.edu/faculty/cfennell/NP/newphilgeog.html

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.