University News

Applications For Summer Undergraduate Research At New Philadelphia Field School

March 10, 2010

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University history and anthropology students recently heard a presentation on "Archaeological Investigations at New Philadelphia: A Multi-Racial Community on the Illinois Frontier," by Terrance Martin, curator of anthropology at the Illinois State Museum.

The excavations at the site in Pike County, approximately 75 miles south of Macomb, are part of a collaborative project involving the Illinois State Museum, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of North Carolina, the University of Maryland and DePaul University. The project is also part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, in which students are selected to conduct special research. Nine students are selected for NSF's REU each summer.

WIU students interested in applying for a research grant should visit the New Philadelphia Field School web site ( and/or contact Western's Assistant Professor of Sociology Jessica White, phone (309) 298-1199, or e-mail The link to the NSF-REU Summer 2010 application is The application states: "For best consideration, the application is due by March 19."

Fieldwork combines archaeological, historical and geophysical research, according to Martin.

New Philadelphia was the first town in the United States to be platted and registered by an African American, "Free Frank" McWorter, who was born in slavery but was later able to purchase his freedom, and that of many other family members, said Ginny Boynton, professor and chair of Western's history department. In 1836 he established New Philadelphia, a 42-acre community in Hadley Township, in the Military Reserve District of Illinois, northwest of Pittsfield, the county seat of Pike County. New Philadelphia was home to both black and white people, who moved there from both New England and the Upland South, including former slaves like McWorter, as well as fugitive slaves seeking freedom via the "underground railroad."

The site of the town, which no longer exists, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2009. This recognition followed archaeological surveys conducted with the help of local college students, which began in 2002.

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