Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spring Field Session/April's Hypothesis

I have submitted to the board of the Archeological Society of Maryland a proposal for holding its annual field session at Port Tobacco. Typically, the field session includes Memorial Day weekend and the previous or following weekend, and the week between. With a Friday set-up and Monday wrap-up, the field session covers about eleven days. ASM brings with it several thousands of dollars in grant money and, conservatively, $25,000 in contributed labor with 20 to 50 volunteers on site each day, often more on the weekends.

Holding the field session at Port Tobacco would provide the project with an enormous lift and virtually insure continued activity on site through at least the middle of the summer, by which time we hope to have secured additional funding. The research strides that we could make during those eleven days and the subsequent weeks of laboratory work we can only guess at, but they would be tremendous.

Port Tobacco is not the only site under consideration for this spring. If you are interested in working at Port Tobacco with the ASM field session...if you support holding the field session at Port Tobacco this spring...drop me a line. I would like to show the board and the field session committee that there is interest in making this happen among ASM members and interested groups and individuals apart from ASM. Contact me at:

Now, in continuing the conversation of what we might call April's Hypothesis, Elsie offered this insight:

"John & Roberta Wearmouth's recent book on Port Tobacco, has some info related to Friday & Sat's blogs and comments. Pages 183-184 quote an article from 12-22-1906 Baltimore American. Here are a couple of excerpts. 'You will see handsome old colonial homes...where once dwelt prosperous families... now tenanted by colored people, two or three families occupying one house.' 'Only three white families live in the dying town. The other families are colored. The total population does not number 40.'

A summary of the 1870 census (on pages 211-212) lists 37 households of which about 7 include black servants living in (assumedly) white households and several households of people of color. The summary of the 1880 census (pages 213-214) lists 36 households of which 5 are black or mulatto. The only (assumedly) white households including black servants are the St. Charles and Carrollton Hotel (first time I've seen this name). I'm not sure I summarized this stuff correctly, I'm sure Carol's work will be more detailed. Will be very interesting to see what 1890 & 1900 census show about the shift in demographics.

Pages 183-185 also refer to early 20th C articles about Port Tobacco in Washington Star and Baltimore Sun."

Yes, I think Carol's meticulous data collection from the decennial censuses and her subsequent analyses should go a long way toward accurately and quantitatively describing the changing demographics of Port Tobacco. Those data will inform on variability in household structure, occupation, and other matters of anthropological and historical interest.


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