Press & Publications
Since 2009, the Anthracite Heritage Program has conducted archaeological excavations at coal mining patch towns outside of Hazleton, Pennslyvania. Click the links to the right to learn more about these sites!
Pardeesville Village 36LU314
Yanac House 36LU321
Lower Street Double House 36LU323
History of the Project
The project began with the analysis of the company archives of the Lattimer Coal Company. Mr. Joe Michel played an instrumental role in helping us develop this project. Several decades after the Lattimer Coal Company closed its doors, Mr. Michel purchased the company records. This material created the foundation for our research into the everyday life in the coal patch towns.
After a summer of scanning Michel’s archives, the project conducted a survey of the Lattimer Massacre site. Pasco Schiavo, owner of the massacre property, gave us permission to survey the land with the assistance of BRAVO (Battlefield Restoration & Archaeological Volunteer Organization). The survey resulted in identifying the location of the initial confrontation in this tragic event that left 19 striking miners of Eastern European descent dead at the scene. This survey has brought new attention to the massacre and a commemorative anniversary church service is once again held at the site.
Hazleton has always been a city of immigrants. The diverse and ever-shifting social environment sometimes lead to tension between longer established residents and newer immigrants. This is the case today, when in 2005 the mayor signed into law the “Illegal Immigration Relief Act,” which made English the official language of Hazleton, barring landlords from renting to undocumented workers and families, and made it illegal to hire unnaturalized workers. The law was eventually struck down by higher courts. Therefore, issues surrounding immigration, past and present, have made this a compelling place to work.
Our work focuses on domestic lives of the new immigrants who came to northeastern Pennsylvania beginning in the 1880s. Since 2012, we have excavated several archaeological sites. In the summer of 2012 we excavated a former shanty enclave where new immigrants were segregated from the more developed areas in the company town of Lattimer. Excavations uncovered elements of ephemeral architecture, likely built by laborers who rented the land from the company. During the summer of 2013 we studied a site in the former center of Lattimer No. 2 (now known as Pardeesville). This area originally developed as a shanty enclave for new Italian immigrants, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. It was later redeveloped as the center of the Italian community with Saint Nazarius Church being the center of this ethnic community. Recent excavations, beginning in the summer of 2014 have focused on company-built houses, also known as double houses and contained households of Slavic origin.
Sponsored by the University of Maryland Department of Anthropology
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(c) 2015 V.C. Westmont
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