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New Philadelphia NSF-REU 2006 Fieldschool

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  • Christopher Fennell
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2005

      May 23, 2006 to July 28, 2006.

      Sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences
      for Undergraduates Program.

      * Application Deadline: for best consideration -- March 24, 2006.

      Application forms and additional information are available by
      following the links for the New Philadelphia project on the
      University of Maryland's Center for Heritage Resource Studies web
      page, at:

      Additional background information is available from the University
      of Illinois 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 – a remarkable
      achievement. Families of African American and European American
      heritage moved to the town and created a multi-racial community. New
      Philadelphia likely served as a stopping place 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 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 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).

      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 choices.

      * 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 (UI) and University of Maryland
      (UM) 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

      * 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

      * Project Location, Facilities and Student Stipends:
      All students are required to be in Pike County on May 22nd and the
      instructions will begin on May 23rd. New Philadelphia is about 75
      miles west of Springfield, Illinois, and 25 miles east of Hannibal,
      Missouri. There is no mass transportation 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 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. During the weekends students are free to travel and
      explore the region.

      Students receive a $300 per week stipend paid on a bi-weekly basis.

      * Application Procedure:
      Each student is required to submit an application form, transcripts
      from all colleges attended, two letters of recommendation, and an
      essay. For best consideration, the final date for receipt of all
      applications materials is March 24, 2006. This field school is
      sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences
      for Undergraduates sites program, and will select students based on
      their scholarly ability as well as their motivation and ability to
      perform scholarly and scientific research. Students from
      underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Students will be
      notified of acceptance no later than April 14, 2006.
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