in the study of their own heritage is a growing
trend in archaeology and heritage studies.
Increasingly, scholars understand that heritage
is an important concept around which groups
of people form and maintain communities.
It provides them with a source of group pride
and a sense of being grounded in a place or
series of historical events. It can also
help people to organize politically and ensure
that their voice is heard in public processes
such as civic planning and urban development.
Hampden, in central Baltimore, is often called
a working class neighborhood, but it is in
reality a place undergoing rapid change.
Business is booming, as is the housing market,
and the neighborhood’s traditional working
class population is in some danger of being
marginalized or forced out altogether. As
archaeologists, we have made a conscious effort
in Hampden to use our skills and knowledge
to increase all community members’ awareness
of the place’s heritage. Our hope is
to invigorate a public discourse about the
community’s traditional character and changing
nature and to give traditional Hampdenites
another tool to advocate for themselves in
the public arena.
The project that we envision is one that
incorporates facets of public history, archaeology,
job training, public education, oral history
and applied anthropology to help Hampden represent
itself to through studies of its heritage.
We have already begun with a series of public
history workshops and the creation of a research
design for excavations in summer 2005.
That research design incorporates the input
of community members based on the workshops.
As the project progresses, we hope to continually
refine our research through dialogue with
the community. Ultimately, we hope to
engage the community to the extent that we
will be able to start a community controlled
non-profit organization devoted to interpreting
Click here to read the research design for
the Hampden Community Archaeology Project
from the 'Bottom up'" (pdf format)
Also read Oral
Histories from residents of Hampden (originally
recorded in 1978 through the Baltimore Neighborhood
Recent News about the Hampden Archaeology
for Meaning" by Alice Ockleshaw,
Urbanite Magazine, December 2005, Issue
yards yield clues to history?" by
Howard Crise, Baltimore Messenger,
June 30, 2005
more updates on the Hampden Community Archaeology
Project follow along on the blog
maintained by Dave Gadsby.