Friday, February 22, 2008

The Birth of a Research Idea

Some archaeologists love the field, some love the lab. I love the lab because to me the artifacts tell us more as a collection then they do at the time of discovery. My research ideas usually hit me in a moment of quiet reflection, bubbling to the surface usually at inopportune while driving or swimming. I describe this idea fermentation process as "becoming one with my assemblage".

Here is what bubbled to the surface this morning.

In the 1860s, Port Tobacco had obvious Southern sympathies despite its location in the North. So, it has always struck me that most of the photographs of people that I have seen within the collection of the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco are images of proud African Americans, two in particular standing in front of houses that they presumably resided in. I find this quick transition to be quite interesting.

Here is the idea.

Could it be that when the North won the Civil War the Southern whites left Port Tobacco?
Further, with the bad publicity that Port Tobacco received after the Lincoln Assassination it is possible that some Northern whites left the town too. A Port Tobacco exodus, along with the silting of the port, would have dropped the price of property in the town and, in doing so, created a unique opportunity for African Americans to take up residence in the once proud town. Given the political climate of the time, this may have been a factor in the movement of the County courthouse to La Plata. The aggressive act of burning the courthouse is evidence that this relocation was an emotional issue.

What do you think?


No comments: