Poster Title

Harmony & Harvest at the 1839 Parker Academy

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Institution

Northern Kentucky University

KY House District #

4

KY Senate District #

4

Department

Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy

Abstract

Near the village of New Richmond, The Parker Academy was established in 1839 under the direction of Daniel and Priscilla Parker. This is believed to be the first school in the United States to offer fully integrated classrooms that were open to all races, religions, and genders. The Academy was a preparatory school that became a safe haven for its numerous students, many of whom were runaway slaves. Faculty and students from NKU partnered with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to conduct archaeological excavations in 2015-2016. Fieldwork focused on the schoolhouse foundation and the men’s dormitory. This presentation illustrates the intriguing history of the Academy through its material culture. Ceramics, glass, building materials, coins, game pieces, fragments of musical instruments, and buttons are among the artifacts that were recovered. In particular several potential decorative or ornamental personal items may inform interpretations about ethnicity; while this topic is controversial and our work is inconclusive these artifacts add richness to descriptions of what may have occurred in the past. In addition, we recovered a high frequency of diagnostic artifacts that inform our understanding of ways the community may have come together by engaging in events including food and leisure activities (music, games, celebratory feasts). Analysis is ongoing but already we have uncovered patterns emerging from the data that tell a story about daily life. Our work provides a window into this unique community and a chance to better understand the development of identity at this important site.

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Harmony & Harvest at the 1839 Parker Academy

Near the village of New Richmond, The Parker Academy was established in 1839 under the direction of Daniel and Priscilla Parker. This is believed to be the first school in the United States to offer fully integrated classrooms that were open to all races, religions, and genders. The Academy was a preparatory school that became a safe haven for its numerous students, many of whom were runaway slaves. Faculty and students from NKU partnered with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to conduct archaeological excavations in 2015-2016. Fieldwork focused on the schoolhouse foundation and the men’s dormitory. This presentation illustrates the intriguing history of the Academy through its material culture. Ceramics, glass, building materials, coins, game pieces, fragments of musical instruments, and buttons are among the artifacts that were recovered. In particular several potential decorative or ornamental personal items may inform interpretations about ethnicity; while this topic is controversial and our work is inconclusive these artifacts add richness to descriptions of what may have occurred in the past. In addition, we recovered a high frequency of diagnostic artifacts that inform our understanding of ways the community may have come together by engaging in events including food and leisure activities (music, games, celebratory feasts). Analysis is ongoing but already we have uncovered patterns emerging from the data that tell a story about daily life. Our work provides a window into this unique community and a chance to better understand the development of identity at this important site.