The Apotheosis of Nate Harrison

Author(s): Jaime Lennox; Seth Mallios

Year: 2018


Historical accounts of famed San Diego pioneer Nate Harrison (ca. 1833-1920), a former enslaved African-American from the antebellum South, underwent meaningful transformations during the 20th century.  Secondary narratives of the region’s first African-American homesteader grew into some of the county’s most popular and exotic legends.  Local authors repeatedly altered specific details of Harrison’s emancipation, longevity, living quarters, and other related biographical phenomena, resulting in the creation of new myths long after Harrison died in 1920.  Traditional archaeological seriations can be extended to historical texts to show precisely when and how these narrative changes occurred.  Some transformed gradually over time; others changed in a punctuated manner that corresponded with groundbreaking socio-political changes across the nation.  In identifying dynamism in the historical records, this paper is able to situate recent discoveries from the ongoing Nate Harrison Historical Archaeology Project excavations in an archaeology of legend.

Cite this Record

The Apotheosis of Nate Harrison. Jaime Lennox, Seth Mallios. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441108)


Spatial Coverage

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

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 166