(Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL, USA)
Three objectives include:
(1) Identifying the city of St. Charles as a stop along the Underground Railroad (UGRR) via historical documents
(2) Determining what archaeological evidence supports the existence of the UGRR
(3) Determine if the Young/Marsden House in St. Charles was a location in the UGRR.
The purpose of this paper is to explore urban archaeology in relation to the Underground Railroad (UGRR) in St. Charles, Illinois. Urban archaeology, although somewhat challenging due to permanent structures such as roads and buildings, is beneficial in forming a clearer understanding of urban life in the United States during the 1800s. Researching the UGRR, which was a metaphorical term used to describe the escape route of slaves from southern states, in urbanized St. Charles provides an excellent venue of combining historical archaeological techniques and providing a voice for often forgotten African slaves.
Three objectives include (1) identifying the city of St. Charles as a stop along the UGRR via historical documents, (2) determining what archaeological evidence supports the existence of the UGRR, and (3) determine if the Young/Marsden House in St. Charles was a location in the UGRR. Methods used during this research include archival research, such as county history and land deeds, archaeological excavation in the cellar of the Young/Marsden House, and techniques in artifact analysis of archaeological material remains.
Results are pending as the research and excavations are currently underway. However, I hypothesize that due to the active anti-slavery and abolitionist movement in St. Charles during the 1840s to 1860s, the UGRR most likely existed in the town. Based on that hypothesis, the Young/Marsden House in St. Charles may have been involved in the UGRR. Excavation and analysis will provide further insight into whether or not the Young/Marsden House was a stop along the UGRR.
The emergence of Urban and Historical Archaeology has permitted new opportunities in the field of archaeology. Researching the UGRR in St. Charles, Illinois will give a voice to the early years of African Americans in the United States.
Historical Archaeology, Underground Railroad