Collaborative archaeology and the lasting character of a historic Black community
“Theoretically informed and methodologically balanced, this research represents the best of community and public archaeology and provides new insights into the lives of free African Americans in the North.”—Richard F. Veit, coauthor of The Archaeology of American Cemeteries and Gravemarkers
“A welcome addition to the emerging literature on the archaeology of African American communities in the North. Barton develops a perspective that centers race and class and provides a vibrant analysis of archaeological data to show the varied cultural and material means community members used to circumvent the limitations of poverty and isolation.”—Christopher N. Matthews, author of A Struggle for Heritage: Archaeology and Civil Rights in a Long Island Community
The Archaeology of Race and Class at Timbuctoo is the first book to examine the historic Black community of Timbuctoo, New Jersey, which was founded in 1826 by formerly enslaved migrants from Maryland and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. In collaboration with descendants and community members, Christopher Barton explores the intersectionality of life at Timbuctoo and the ways Black residents resisted the marginalizing structures of race and class.
Despite some support from local Quaker abolitionists, the people of Timbuctoo endured strained relationships with neighboring white communities, clashes with slavecatchers, and hostilities from the Ku Klux Klan. Through a multi-scalar approach that ranges from landscape archaeology and settlement patterns to analysis of consumer artifacts, this book demonstrates how residents persevered to construct their own identities and navigate poverty. Barton incorporates oral histories from community elders that offer insights into the racial tensions of the early- to mid-twentieth century and convey the strong, lasting character of the community in the face of repression.
Weaving together memories and inherited accounts, current archaeological investigations, historical records, and comparisons to nearby Black-established communities of the era, this book illuminates the everyday impacts of slavery and race relations in a part of the country that seemed to promise freedom and highlights the use of archaeology as a medium for social activism. Christopher P. Barton, assistant professor of archaeology at Francis Marion University, is the editor of Trowels in the Trenches: Archaeology as Social Activism.