Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Maryland Dig May Reveal Oldest Free-Black Community in U.S.

Friday, July 26, 2013

EASTON, MARYLAND—Researchers from the University of Maryland and Morgan State University are looking for evidence of a free African-American community on The Hill, in the historic section of Easton. The settlement may have been the largest community of free blacks in the Chesapeake region, and may be the oldest free black community in the country. More than 400 free African-Americans were recorded living on The Hill in 1790. So far, artifacts related to making nails and raising chickens have been found at the property currently under excavation. Stefan Woehlke of the University of Maryland thinks that free blacks would have been more likely to engage in these activities than the white landowners. “It’s sort of piecing together a puzzle, but you don’t have all the pieces,” he said.