Students Discover Their History Buried in Illinois Town

Life in a community of freed slaves is mapped and documented by young descendents.
July 19, 2006, 1pm PDT | maryereynolds
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Located about 60 miles south of Chicago, Hopkins Park's 800 residents are mainly African-American; many are descendants of the founders.

"It was supposed to be a place where African-Americans could use their farming skills and build a life after slavery. But the village was never able to flourish."

Early settlers faced the challenge of dirt that wouldn't grow anything, according to Chap Kusimba, a curator of anthropology for the Field Museum. "This was an undisturbed African-American community where they could live as they pleased," Kusimba explains. "At the turn of the century, every black person must have known there was a place where black people could live and run their own lives."

The Field Museum project teaches Hopkins Park middle-school students how to research history using archeological techniques. It's the museum's first archeological project using children to do research.

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Published on Friday, July 14, 2006 in The Chicago Tribune
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