Voices Not Lost: An archaeology of the past and present at Timbuctoo, New Jersey

Author(s): Patricia Markert

Year: 2014


The African American community of Timbuctoo, New Jersey, has existed as an archaeological site for little more than five years. As archaeologists, it is essential to evaluate this community, which sits directly at the crossroads between race in the past and race in the present, in the context of not only how it existed in the 19th and 20th centuries, but how it continues to exist today. The living former residents of the community contribute their life experiences of the 20th century in the form of oral history; meanwhile, the public largely hails it as a stop on the Underground Railroad. These different perspectives can complement each other, but just as often exist at odds, with the odds favoring the narratives of the 19th century. As a result of what is considered ‘historical’ by a wider public, the 20th century is often rendered invisible, and with it the former residents and their experiences. This paper will weigh the issues that arise between these multiple versions of past and place, and discuss the roles of archaeology and oral history in bridging these gaps and illuminating Timbuctoo not just in the light of a racialized past, but a very real present.

Cite this Record

Voices Not Lost: An archaeology of the past and present at Timbuctoo, New Jersey. Patricia Markert. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437020)

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Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-47,11