Mother Baltimore’s Freedom Village and the Reconstitution of Memory


The inconspicuous Mississippi River town of Brooklyn, Illinois was the first black town in the USA. Located just north of East St. Louis, Brooklyn was founded around 1829 as a freedom settlement by several enterprising African-American families that emigrated from Missouri. The most remarkable settler was a former slave named "Mother" Priscilla Baltimore, who was a major figure in the AME movement. Today, despite serious economic hardships, Brooklynites display tenacity, resilience, and a strong sense of community identity that doubtless recall those of its earliest residents.

ISAS has partnered with Brooklyn’s historical society in an effort to reconstitute its past through historical and archaeological research. While oral traditions about Brooklyn’s founding encode a strong sense of black determination, a new story is emerging of white philanthropy’s role in establishing the freedom village. Our archaeological and historical discoveries are creating new traditions that make Brooklyn’s past relevant to the broader community. 

Cite this Record

Mother Baltimore’s Freedom Village and the Reconstitution of Memory. Thomas E. Emerson, Miranda L. Yancey-Bailey, Joseph M. Galloy. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428605)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 298