University of Maryland Archaeologists Conduct Dig at Earliest Settlement of Free Blacks

umd_logoA team of archaeologists from the University of Maryland is currently conducting a research project in Easton, Maryland, which they believe may be the site of oldest settlement of free Blacks in the United States.

Treme, a neighborhood where free Blacks lives in New Orleans, dates back to 1812. The University of Maryland researchers believe that free Blacks settled in The Hill neighborhood of Easton between 1789 and 1800. The archaeological dig is taking place on the property of the Talbot County Women’s Club. The club’s headquarters is in a house that was built in 1793 or before. Earlier research of Census records by Dale Green, a professor of history at Morgan State University in Baltimore, estimated that more than 400 free Blacks lived in the area in 1790.

Mark Leone, a professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland who is leading the excavation says that “hundreds of free African Americans appear to have lived cheek-by-jowl with Whites. Yet just down the road, plantations flourished with hundreds of Black slaves.” The archaeological dig hopes to learn more about the everyday lives of free Blacks who lived in the area.

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