Students Discover Their History Buried in Illinois Town
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.