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Jul 06, 2006

DePaul University’s Annual Archaeological Field Project Is In Bronzeville This Year

WHAT:    DePaul University’s Archaeological Field Project is a five-week summer course in which urban archaeological digs are conducted locally in hopes of unearthing historical artifacts from Chicago’s past. This year, Anna Agbe-Davies, an assistant professor of anthropology at DePaul, and Rebecca Graff, a graduate student from the University of Chicago, are team teaching the class of 20 DePaul undergraduate students.

WHEN:    Monday, July 10, from 10 a.m. until noon.

WHERE:    The site is located on private property at 5128 S. Michigan Ave. in the historic Bronzeville community, once the center of black business and cultural life during the waves of Black migration taking place from the 1920s to the 1940s. The 110-year-old structure, now the home of community leader, Joann Tate, was once the Phyllis Wheatley Home for Girls, a rooming house for black women founded in 1926.


  • Agbe-Davies initiated the summer research in Bronzeville because of her interest in African-American anthropological history. She hopes to find artifacts that will allow her students to trace the development of the community as part of Chicago’s “Black Metropolis” in the early 20th century.

  • “The site could provide an interesting comparison with sites from the same period currently being excavated in other Chicago communities from which migrants came,” said Agbe-Davies.

  • This year marks the fifth for DePaul’s archaeological field study project. Past excavation sites have included the Field Museum and the Pullman neighborhood. Agbe-Davies is leading her first field study project at DePaul but has led digs in Virginia, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

  • Tate consented to hosting the excavation project this year as a collaborative effort on behalf of her own organization, The Phyllis Wheatley Home Rebirthing Project, which aims to preserve the history, culture and achievements of Black Chicago.

  • DePaul’s Bronzeville excavation study was facilitated by Race to Knowledge, a community organization aimed at empowering youth. Agbe-Davies plans to continue her anthropological work in Bronzeville in the fall with both organizations that have supported the field study project this summer.