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  • Photo by NSU's Dr. Tommy Ike Hailey of new National Historic Site used by National Park Service and

    NATCHITOCHES - An aerial photo taken by Northwestern State University Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology Dr. Tommy Ike Hailey has been used by the National Park Service and the Sierra Club in websites on the recently established New Philadelphia National Historic Site in Illinois. 

    Hailey took part in the New Philadelphia Archaeological Project several years ago at the invitation of Project Director Dr. Christopher Fennell, who was conducting a University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana archaeological field school there at the time.  

                      “New Philadelphia wasn't well known then, but the archaeological work conducted there, along with the historical research into the town's original inhabitants and the assistance provided by their descendants helped to get the site designated by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site,” said Hailey. “I like to think the aerial photography played an important role in helping to make that happen.” 

    Hailey uses aerial photography in the classroom focusing on how it's used to study archaeological sites.  

    “There are things you can see from the air - site layout, physical setting, environmental context, and even hidden features - that often can't be fully appreciated from the ground level,” he said. “I include a section on aerial archaeology in the methods section of all of the archaeology courses I teach, but most especially in Anthropology 3020 Principles of Archaeology and Anthropology 4140 Historical Archaeology.”   

    NSU offers an undergraduate certificate in remote systems science and technology (RSST) incorporating classes from anthropology, biology, business administration, computer information systems, communications, criminal justice, electrical engineering technology, English, geography, industrial engineering technology, hospitality management and tourism, management, and unified public safety administration, as well as several new RSST classes that were developed specifically for the program.  

    A Student Technology Fee grant was used to buy computers and student-level drones for class use. A grant from AEP SWEPCO was used to buy more expensive drones and to set up a classroom/office for RSST in Kyser Hall Room 107, under the title of Advanced Remote and Geospatial Operations (ARGO). The setup is still underway. 

    New Philadelphia National Historic Site was established as a national park on December 29. In the coming months, the National Park Service will develop plans to welcome visitors. New Philadelphia, located two miles east of Berry, Illinois, was the first known town planned and legally registered by an African American before the Civil War. Frank McWorter, a formerly enslaved man from Kentucky, founded the town in 1836 and bought his freedom and the freedom of 15 family members. The rural community situated near the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers flourished at first, but later declined when the railroad bypassed the community in 1869. The community dissolved in 1885. By the 1940s, nothing of the town remained above ground. New Philadelphia disappeared as plows turned over the soil and buried any material remains left behind. Today, historical documents, oral histories from town descendants and community members, and artifacts keep the town's story alive.  

                      The New Philadelphia site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, designated as a National Historic Landmark and included in the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. 


          For more information, go to https://www.nps.gov/places/new-philadelphia-nhs.htm