UPDATED! Final Conference Program, Conference Registration, and Information for Attendees

Welcome to the 2018 Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference!

We are delighted to welcome you to Chicago and to share this exciting and timely program with you. The conference combines formal presentations with field trips, readings, and time for discussion so we can make the most of our time together and our time in the city of Chicago.

The conference is being held on the campuses of DePaul University on Friday October 19 and Saturday October 20, 2018. Please join us by filling out the registration form at the very bottom of this page and returning it to jbaxter@depaul.edu on or before October 15, 2018.

Registration is free! This conference is being offered at no cost due to the generous support of our sponsoring institutions, DePaul University and Lake Forest College, and the following:

The DePaul University Research Council

The Lake Forest College Digital Chicago Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Chicago Society of the Archaeological Institute of America

We look forward to having you join us!  – Rebecca Graff (Lake Forest College) and Jane Eva Baxter (DePaul University)  Conference Co-Organizers

Conference Theme: Contested Sites in Archaeological and Contemporary Contexts

Chicago is a city with a long history of contested sites, spaces, and places. Battles for lakefront land have raged since the late 19th century when Montgomery Ward fought tenaciously to preserve lakefront lands for public use and block the development of the Field Museum. In 2016, the Friends of the Parks filed suit based on the Ward claim—much to the dismay of many powerful Chicagoans—and the multi-million dollar George Lucas Museum was thereby turned away from the Chicago lakefront to build elsewhere. Sites and monuments associated with the Haymarket Square Bombing have been relocated, venerated, and desecrated at different times in Chicago’s history. Today, controversy surrounds the Obama Presidential Center, soon to be constructed in Jackson Park, the former site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition .Yet the resultant narratives of city life that these contested locations engender rarely reflect a sense of anything archaeological, either in terms of attention to the many layers of lived experiences that form the sites, or the archaeological resources that they contain. Contention around sites can enter into archaeological discourse in many ways. An archaeological sensibility—one that engages with materiality, strata, assemblage—can negate, benefit, or merely complicate site interpretations. Some sites are sensitive for their histories and resonate in the present as meaningful places of heritage precisely because of the past conflicts and struggles that took place there. Other sites that may not have had a particularly charged history turn contentious as they become embroiled in the political, practical, and symbolic concerns of contemporary communities. Chicago provides many high profile examples of contested sites of many kinds, but we all encounter challenges in our work as we engage diverse stakeholders in the present and craft narratives of the past that interpret sites in all their complexities.

Conference Schedule and Program

For a map of all conference locations at DePaul University, please use these interactive maps.

Friday Evening Keynote and Welcome Reception

Co-Sponsored by the Chicago Society of the Archaeological Institute of America

DePaul University Lincoln Park Campus

Arts and Letters Hall Room 103, 2315 North Kenmore Avenue

5:00-6:00 Conference Registration

6:00-7:00 Keynote Lecture 

7:00-8:30 Reception

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Edward Gonzalez-Tennant, University of Central Florida

Title: The Rosewood Massacre: Lessons for Modern America from Intersectional Archaeology

Abstract: America remains a divided nation. The Alt-Right, growing rates of racial violence, and a return to isolationism mirror the eugenics movement, Jim Crow, and policies of a century ago. Historical archaeologists offer a unique perspective regarding these developments. Our dedication to engaged research and transdisciplinary work reveals how legacies of inequality haunt our nation. These aspects are central to archaeology’s role in understanding the 1923 Rosewood Massacre. Rosewood, a once prosperous African American town in rural Florida, was destroyed during a week-long episode of violence. Events like this are shamefully common in American history. This paper reviews efforts to contextualize Rosewood’s destruction within broader patterns of racial violence. The goal is not to advocate for any single approach, but rather highlight how an experimental approach to theory-building, methodology, and outreach support public conversations on racial violence and reconciliation.

For more information about our keynote speaker please visit his website, and visit the University Press of Florida webpage for information about his recent book on the archaeology of Rosewood, Florida.

Saturday Morning Morning Keynotes and Submitted Presentations

DePaul University Loop Campus

Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building Room 805, 14 East Jackson Boulevard

7:30- 8:00 AM: Conference Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:00-9:30 AM: Morning Keynotes and Discussion

8:00-8:30 Morning Keynote 1: Dr. Stacey L. Camp, Michigan State University

Title: Immigration, Incarceration, and Archaeology

Abstract: This talk considers how historical archaeologists can contribute to contemporary debates concerning immigration and incarceration. I will use the case study of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans to show how archaeology can be harnessed to document the long-term material and psychological consequences of internment. I argue that a “slow” archaeology – one that privileges community involvement and scholarly collaboration – must be employed if archaeologists are truly committed to tracing the longitudinal effects of incarceration and restrictionist immigration policies. This type of sustained archaeology takes time, patience, and a commitment to investing in a research agenda and community for the long haul. 

Stacey L. Camp is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program at Michigan State University. She is interested in the history of migrants living in the 19th and 20th century Western United States. Her publications explore how different facets of migrants’ identities – race, class, gender, and citizenship standing – shape their perceptions of consumerism and material culture. Her research has been featured in a number of media outlets, including Japan’s Fuji News, Al Jazeera America, PRI’s (Public Radio International) The World, Germany’s Der Spiegel Online, CBS San Francisco, and The Associated Press. Her newest research project concerns the archaeology of Santa Barbara, California’s Japanese American community prior to their incarceration during World War II. 

8:30 Morning Keynote 2: Dr. Lynne Goldstein, Michigan State University (Retired)

Title: Reflections on an Accidental Career in Historic Archaeology and Sites of Memory

Abstract: When I began in archaeology as an undergraduate in 1967, my focus was squarely on the Eastern U.S. at around AD 1000. However, because my interests also included the analysis and meaning of mortuary treatment and practices, I was inevitably drawn into projects with major historic components (both native and non-native). One aspect of my research has focused on how landscapes are adapted and used by people to create sites of memory, as well as how those sites’ uses have changed over time. This research has led me into a career that depends on active engagement with various publics and stakeholders. Using examples of my research at the historic Russian cemetery at Fort Ross in northern California, an historic Irish cemetery in Illinois, the historic Alameda-Stone cemetery in downtown Tucson, and my work in creating Michigan State University’s Campus Archaeology Program, I discuss how historic archaeological research has been critical to the overall development of my research on mortuary practices and sites of memory.

Goldstein recently (2018) retired from Michigan State University (MSU), where she was Professor and former Chair of Anthropology. Her research has focused on the archaeology of the precontact Mississippian period in the U.S. Eastern Woodlands (ca. AD 1000), the analysis of mortuary practices, computer databases and social networking, and ethics and public policy in anthropology. She began at MSU in 1996, and was at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1975-1996. Goldstein served as Publications Director for the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association, and was also Editor of the journal American Antiquityfor four years.She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and past Chair of its Anthropology Section; former Secretary of the Society for American Archaeology and current Chair of its Publications Committee; member of the American Anthropological Association’s Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publications; former member of the Smithsonian Institution Repatriation Review Committee; Fellow of the Society for Cultural Anthropology; and Past President of the Midwest Archaeological Conference. With Ethan Watrall, she co-directed an NEH-funded Advanced Institute on Digital Archaeology.

9:00-9:30 Discussion, Coffee/Refreshment Break

9:30-11:30 Individually Submitted Presentations on the Conference Theme

Ten Minute Oral Presentations

Hour 1 (9:30-10:30) Potentials, Possibilities, and Pitfalls in Engaged Archaeology

Public Archaeology: A Two-Edged Sword?  Michael S. Nassaney, Western Michigan University   Abstract: Archaeology has benefited from increasing public interest and involvement, just as various stakeholders attempt to assert their claims on the past. While collaboration between archaeologists and non-professionals can be a beautiful thing, public participation in and opinions about archaeology can heighten the likelihood of divergent interpretations of the past and lead to contestation. I briefly discuss two case studies in which local constituents rejected my archaeological efforts and their results. In one case, archaeology was viewed as a nuisance and potential economic boondoggle, while in the other archaeological interpretations were seen to be in conflict with an imagined past and a threat to a historical development project. Archaeology continues in one community but has been effectively thwarted in the other due to the power of the people to assert control over the narratives that sustain their activities. How can archaeologists be accountable to all the publics they potentially serve when various groups hold different and competing values?

Contesting Suburbia: A tale of two Plymouths  John M. Chenoweth, University of Michigan-Dearborn  Abstract: This paper suggests that a site can be “contested” without most of its inhabitants realizing it.  In American suburbia, street names, public memorials, and even restaurant architecture can have (unintended?) consequences in the creation of exclusionary pasts (and present). This paper examines references to New England history—such as the stories of the “Pilgrims” at Plymouth Massachusetts and Boston-area battles of the Revolutionary War—but which appear in the small suburban town of Plymouth, Michigan.  I argue that public references to particular pasts can be replete with tacit connections to constructions of race, class, and othering—here the choice of histories and the timing of their appearance make statements about race in particular. This result highlights contemporary archaeology’s role in the holistic analysis of the mundane: not only telling untold stories but recognizing the role and consequences of the unintentional, the untellable. 

Cross-Cultural Concerns in Collaborative Contexts  Amelia E. Harp, Georgia State University Abstract: Community archaeology seeks to decolonize the discipline by facilitating public input and participation in the investigation and interpretation of sites of interest. Measures implemented to encourage this collaboration include but are not limited to public outreach events, opportunities for interested individuals to take part in the actual archaeology, and, most importantly, the necessary formation of advisory committees. Even so, the nature and degree of stakeholder involvement tends to differ between groups. This is due in part to the pressures of varying sociocultural factors, as well as key differences in backgrounds and worldviews which collaborators might not realize. I describe one such recent instance. It behooves academics to identify and seek to understand these factors limiting stakeholder involvement. Where this is not a priority, how trulydecolonizing can one consider efforts for more inclusive collaborative archaeology?

Digital Approaches to Community Archaeology: The Copper Country Spatial Data Infrastructure Dan Trepal, Sarah Fayen Scarlett, and Don Lafreniere, Michigan Technological University Abstract: The Copper Country Spatial Data Infrastructure (CC-HSDI) is an interdisciplinary project that applies digital, spatial approaches to historical big data in order to support collaborative explorations of the past between the public, professionals, and academics in a postindustrial copper mining landscape located in Upper Michigan. Postindustrial landscapes and their resident communities are the legacy of complex processes of growth and prosperity followed by decline and stagnation. Within these communities, the past is a contested space that may be used to characterize the present in multiple, contrasting ways, with important implications for the future. Archaeologists working in postindustrial places are not isolated from these issues, and they challenge us to usefully engage with the diverse constituents of postindustrial communities. Within the CC-HSDI archaeologists may join with other academics, professionals, and the public in contributing to our understanding of the Copper Country’s heritage. The web-based public interface of the CC-HSDI, called the Keweenaw Time Traveler, juxtaposes user-friendly access to rigorous yet transparently-curated historical data with the sharing of the multiple, possibly conflicting, publicly-held memories and identities that collectively constitute the heritage of the Copper Country. This digital forum for heritage-making can serve as an important counterpart to site-based public archaeology outreach activities in the region.

Contested Heritage in the ‘Comeback City’ Kaeleigh Herstad, Indiana University Abstract: In June, Ford Motors purchased and announced its plans to renovate Michigan Central Station, a Detroit landmark and long-time symbol of the city’s decline. Shortly thereafter, an anonymous ‘thief’ contacted Ford to return a clock face that had originally graced an exterior wall of the station, saying that it had been “missing for over 20 years and wanted to go home.” This act inspired at least two dozen other people from throughout the Midwest to come forward and return items that had been salvaged from the station in 30 years of vacancy. In this paper, I present the station as a site of contested heritage and memory, exploring the range of motivations behind the extralegal removal of artifacts from Detroit’s ‘ruins’ (and their return) and illustrating how residents have stepped in to preserve and honor their city’s built heritage and material culture in the absence of municipal and state-level protection and support. I ask how historical and contemporary archaeology complicate local narratives about Detroit’s ‘comeback’ and, in turn, what a better understanding of the salvage ethos in Detroit can contribute to archaeological perspectives on scrapping and salvage activities more broadly.

Hour 2 (10:30-11:30) Case Studies for Consideration

The Company Line: The Archaeological Potential of a Former Post-War Black Neighborhood in Mansfield, Ohio Andrew Sewell, Lawhon & Associates Abstract: The former Company Line neighborhood in Mansfield, Ohio, was a Black working class community that formed from southern migrants seeking good industrial jobs in the North in the early 20th century. The steel mills of Mansfield drew laborers from both the South and Eastern Europe, inadvertently creating tensions within the established native-born White American population. Racial policies and pressures in Mansfield influenced where these small enclaves of Black people could be established, and the policy of urban development destroyed this particular neighborhood in the early 1970s. An archaeological survey in 2017 provided a unique opportunity to study a set of archaeological sites associated with the neighborhood and occupied between  ca. 1947 and 1972, mainly occupied by single families of working class Black people. This presentation briefly examines how the sites fit into a larger narrative of recent racial history in Mansfield in the late twentieth century, focusing on the sites as an example of an organically developing African-American neighborhood that was nevertheless strongly effected by municipal policies such as redlining and ultimately urban renewal; and how archaeology presents a new perspective on such topics.

Labor Conflict as Narrative Contestation  Maura Bainbridge, SUNY Binghamton Abstract: The history of labor in the United States is popularly told as a narrative of diligent people working hard under fair industrialists to better their lives, guided by feelings of patriotism and nation building.  This narrative is complicated by the reality of class struggle that fueled industry in the United States.  Today, the sites where this class struggle manifested as labor conflict serve as material contestation of this narrative, as the purpose and use of these sites are themselves contested.  This paper uses contemporary archaeology to compare three such locations, namely Ludlow, Colorado, Homestead, Pennsylvania, and Pullman, Chicago to provide examples of contested narratives around the preservation and reuse of sites of labor conflict.

Making the Absent Present: Remembering the African-American Past in Putnam County, Indiana Lydia Wilson Marshall, DePauw University Abstract: The Exodus of African Americans from the U.S. South in the late 1870s and early 1880s encompassed the relocation of tens of thousands of people to a variety of Midwestern and western states, including Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Indiana. Hundreds of “Exoduster” migrants were lured to Indiana’s Putnam County with promises of available farm work, good wages, and the opportunity to exercise their hard-fought right to the vote. Yet, this migration is now little remembered in the area. Exodusters are not part of the story that residents of the county tell themselves about its past.  This paper considers how and why this historical silence developed; it also suggests ways that archaeology can help to understand and memorialize Exoduster history.

Collaborative Archaeology in Red Cliff, Wisconsin: Legacy Collections and New Directions Heather Walder, University of Wisconsin Madiso, John Creese – North Dakota State University, and Marvin DeFoe, Red Cliff Tribal Historic Preservation Office Abstract: Both archaeological practices and sites themselves can be “contested.”  We address this topic in the context of a new collaborative endeavor involving the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) and academic archaeologists.  Our 2018 project began with the return of pre-contact and historic artifact collections from a Beloit College 1979 field school for curation at the Red Cliff THPO, followed by excavations in Frog Bay Tribal National Park. Work focused on a parcel of the park purchased by the tribe in 2017 from a private landowner. Returning this land to tribal control shifted the circumstances from contestation to collaboration. Driven by shared interest in protecting and understanding the Frog Bay Site (47BA60) and others nearby, this project involves Red Cliff community members, students, and additional stakeholders in all stages of planning, research design, excavation, and interpretation.  

The Grande Ballroom: Venue of Dynamic Possibilities Jeri Pajor, Wayne State University Abstract: What can architectural features and artifacts show about the history and use of the Grande Ballroom at 8952 Grand River Avenue in Detroit, Michigan?  How can we utilize this Information to tell the Grande Ballroom story and further efforts to preserve the site’s history? Harry Weitzman commissioned the building of the Grande Ballroom by architect, Charles N. Agree. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s it was a ballroom hosting big bands on the second floor with retail space on the first floor level.  The 1950s saw usage as a dance studio featuring ballroom dancing, a roller skating rink, a mattress warehouse, and a community meeting place for the NAACP and union organizations.  In the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a Rock and Roll Mecca in Detroit, hosting many famous bands, like the Who, Led Zeppelin, MC5.  Currently owned by Chapel Hill Ministries, it was slated for demolition to make a church parking lot, until the documentary, “Louder than Love,” injected new life and interest for restoration and preservation.  Now the church is considering revitalizing the building and looking for community partners to get an historic designation and grant funding to restore the Grande Ballroom to its original glory and use.

Fostering Archaeological Stewardship and Community Engagement in Metro-Detroit Samantha Ellens, Wayne State University Abstract: Since 2013, the Unearthing Detroit Project has been dedicated to providing public access to the archaeology of the city through a community-based approach to research. Under this initiative, the Time Jumpers program developed as a way to introduce archaeology to middle school students across southeast Michigan. Influenced by a number of educational outreach programs across the country, Time Jumpers tailors its curriculum to connect with Metro-Detroit’s history, archaeology, and varied audiences. To a great extent, heritage initiatives rely on public support, collaborative stakeholder relationships, and community engagement for success. Tangible local examples can create a pathway for recognizing and appreciating individual heritage and the value in protecting cultural resources while providing new perspective of a site’s history and the people who have inhabited the space. Time Jumpers utilizes hands-on activities, classroom discussions, and artifacts local to Detroit for developing students’ understanding of archaeological practice, stewardship, and cultural heritage while improving public access to regional history.This paper discusses the program’s efforts to date, detailing its goals, successes, and challenges associated with connecting the public with the archaeology of Detroit, MI.

11:30-11:45 Introduction to the Afternoon Field Trip

Rebecca Graff and Jane Eva Baxter


Our conference field trip will be taking us to two venues on Chicago’s South Side where archaeology has been a part of recent debates about preservation and development: Jackson Park, site of the future Obama Presidential Center, and The Pullman National Monument.

The first 40 people to register for the field trip will receive a free Metra Weekend Pass that will cover all transportation costs for the field trip. A pass costs $10.00 and can be purchased at the train station or using the Ventra App. Tickets can be bought on the train with a significant surcharge, so please be sure you have a ticket in advance! Information on purchasing Metra Tickets can be found on Metra’s website.

All conference participants who register for the field trip will receive a list of readings, including newspaper articles, blogs, and websites that provide essential background to these sites. This list will be sent along with your registration confirmation in advance of the conference. We encourage everyone to prepare these brief readings before arriving in Chicago so we can have a lively and engaged discussion at the end of the day that references the keynote addresses, contributed papers, and field trip experiences in the context of our conference theme.

All conference participants who register for the field trip will receive a field trip packet during this orientation that provides a detailed schedule, maps, and other information.

If you have mobility issues that will impact your ability to take part int he field trips or use public transportation, please indicate this on the conference registration form.

11:45-1:00 Lunch on your own

A list of restaurants near the Loop Campus can be found at the bottom of this page.

1:00-5:30 Afternoon Field Trip

We will be departing from the VanBuren Street Metra Station at 132 East Van Buren Street. The train leaves promptly at 1:02 PM, so do not be late!

1:00 Metra train to Jackson Park and Pullman National Monument

1:15 Arrive at 55th-57thStreet Metra Stop/Jackson Park Tour (Tour led by Rebecca Graff, Lake Forest College)

3:15 Depart 55th-57thStreet Metra Stop for Pullman 111thStreet

3:30-4:30 Tour Pullman National Monument (Tour led by Timothy J. Scarlett, Michigan Technological University)

4:30- 5:30 Final Conference Discussion and Refreshments at Pullman National Monument

Where to Stay and Getting Around Chicago

Accommodations: We know staying in Chicago is expensive, but we hope you’ll be able to use this information to find accommodations in your price range. DePaul provides a list of places to stay near the Loop Campus that also offer some savings by providing offer codes for guests of DePaul University. Our keynote speakers are staying at the Hotel Cass on Wabash. Rates for downtown hotels will be between $180 and $300 a night for our conference weekend. Use comparison sites to look for the best deals. There are also incredibly inexpensive private rooms (about $40 a night) in very nice hostels throughout the city that can be found using the website hostels.com. Dorm rooms at those facilities are as little as $20.00 a night. Another great option is to use Air bnb, which can be a great way to enjoy one of Chicago’s neighborhoods. Just see the information below about getting around when considering a location.

Getting Around: When considering location, you should know DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus is easily accessed by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red and Brown Lines (Fullerton Stop) and the DePaul Loop Campus has a Central downtown location in easy walking distance from all CTA lines. The CTA is the most inexpensive way to navigate Chicago and routes are easily planned in Google Maps or the CTA Trip Planner. Buses are less reliable schedule-wise, but do open up more locations within the city, and the Bus Tracker gives very good estimates of bus arrival times. Installing an app for a ride share company like Uber or Lyft or a taxi app like Curbed can make using these services easier while visiting the city.  

Getting To/From Chicago: If you are flying to/from Chicago, information about airports and airport transportation can be found at Fly Chicago. Amtrak trains arrive and depart from Chicago’s Union Station. If you are driving, parking can be very expensive. There are two parking garages on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus that offer more affordable parking than in the loop area (see link to campus maps above). Another option is to park at an outlying Metra station and take a short commuter rail trip into the city. Parking should be available at these sites, because our conference is on an opposite schedule to most people’s weekday commutes. Apps such as Spot Hero do work in Chicago and there is an app for street parking in Chicago that you can use to pay your parking from your phone throughout the day without having the run out and “feed the meter.” 

Registration Information

Registration for the conference is free but we do need you to register. We need head counts for catering and for Metra passes and such, so please let us know what parts of the conference you’ll be attending. The form for registration can be found here. Please copy the form, complete it with your information, save it as a Word document, and email it to Jane Eva Baxter (jbaxter@depaul.edu) on or before October 15, 2018.