Illinois Archaeology

Fever River Research 

PO Box 5234

Springfield, Illinois



Historical Vignettes and Context Material

Archaeology is often envisioned by the popular press and the public as being all about artifacts. Although archaeologists do study artifacts, it is the power of the artifact (and its interpretation in its proper historical context) that allows archaeologist to understand people living in times past; and it is people who often get lost in the study of archaeology (at least within the public perception of the discipline). Although many of the individuals impacted by the events that hot August night in 1908 remain more-or-less anonymous, with diligent sleuthing within the archival record, supplemented by the material culture remains (or artifacts) serendipitously preserved at these archaeological sites, the lives of a handful of the inhabitants of the neighborhood impacted by the mob action were fleshed out with some detail. The emphasis of this research has been to focus less on the artifacts themselves and more on the individuals impacted by the riot. In order to achieve this goal, the research has presented a series of short biographies (or “vignettes”) of these individuals using some of the more relevant artifacts recovered from the house sites to highlight various aspects of their lives. As the work progressed, the quality and quantity of the material available on some of the individuals (such as that associated with the elderly, ex-slave Cyrus Greenleaf) resulted in some rather lengthy “vignettes” (which more appropriately should be referred to as “historical sketches”) that contribute remarkably well to our understanding of the individuals who occupied this neighborhood. Similarly, in an effort to characterize the development of the neighborhood through the nineteenth century, additional historical sketches were similarly developed in an effort to bring a more human element to the bare-bone artifacts typical of archaeological research. Such in-depth understanding of the neighborhood occupants has been lacking from previous historical research, and it has been our hope that the archaeological investigations ultimately would speak—or give voice to—not the artifacts recovered from the aftermath of the riot, but of the people directly affected by the riot.

The following documents are appendices extracted from the various full reports, available at:  Archaeology Reports.