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Source: Central Connecticut State University
Date: June 8, 2007
Byline: Bart Fisher

CCSU Professor Perry Part of Team Excavating 'President's House'

NEW BRITAIN (June 8, 2007) — Central Connecticut State University professor of anthropology Dr. Warren Perry is playing a key role on what has been described as the "world class team" leading an archaeological dig at "The President's House," in Philadelphia. Dr. Perry is nationally and internationally known for his work as director of Archaeology for the African Burial Ground in New York. Dr. Perry is working with his colleagues, Gerald F. Sawyer and Janet Woodruff of the Archaeology Laboratory for African & African Diaspora Archaeology (ALAADS) at CCSU. Sawyer and Woodruff are both graduates of CCSU's anthropology program. Sawyer is the Director of Education for the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and an adjunct professor of archaeology at CCSU. Woodruff is the administrator of ALAADS.

The President's House was the home of US presidents George Washington and John Adams between 1790 and 1800 while Philadelphia served as the capital of the United States. It was located on the south side of what is now Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets. That location places the structure less than 200 yards from Independence Hall and the famed Liberty Bell. The original house was torn down in the nineteenth century.

The 2007 excavations focus on the outbuildings of the President's House, including a kitchen, stables, and the quarters in which some of Washington's captive Africans lived during his presidency. The project hopes to fill in some of the details missing from historical accounts, which do not address the lives of enslaved Africans from their own perspective but from that of their captors.

Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived at the Philadelphia home in turn. It is also believed that at least nine enslaved Africans also lived and worked there, during Washington's term in office. Among the significant bills signed there were the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, signed by Washington, and the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which Adams signed into law.

Dr. Perry is serving as research director of the project which is aimed at finding artifacts relating to the historical building and the long-obscured story of all of those who lived and worked there. The dig got under way in March.

 

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