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Digging for History at the Madam CJ Walker Theatre

What can we learn from digging up a parking lot? Shameka Neely gets on the scene and talks to the IUPUI team digging at the Museum in Indianapolis.

An official archeological dig takes place on the historical grounds of the first woman millionaire Madam CJ Walker’s property.

Preserving history at the Madam Walker Theater in Indianapolis is one of the goals of this archeological dig, but not without the funding support of IUPUI.

Dr. Paul Mullins is an Associate Professor of Anthropology from IUPUI. “The theater center owns the property so they were eager do the research and I was fortunate to be able to talk to the school of liberal arts at IUPUI into giving me enough money to remove the parking lot,” says Mullins.  “The class pays their tuition so actually we’re a very low budget project.”

Lewis Jones, Site Manager of the Dig, says the artifacts found may not hold a significant monetary value, but any recovered objects will assist in shedding some light on pertinent historical background information.

“I think we have found a lot of valuable things, we’ve found a lot of ceramics, we’ve found a door handle that probably came from the factory itself so to me that’s valuable,” says Jones.

Jones explains that the findings assist in explaining the socio-economic times during that time frame, but cautions the findings probably won’t bring a monetary treasure to the museum.

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything people are going to get rich off of but there’s a lot that will tell a lot about the people themselves that lived and worked here during that time, which is one of the main benefits we get from conducting archeology.”

The dig concludes at the end of the month.  Recovered artifacts will be taken to a lab identified, cleaned and then a report will be compiled on the findings.

Shameka Neely

Shameka Neely, a native of Nashville, Tennessee enthusiastically joined WTIU as Senior Reporter/ InFocus Producer in the news department. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication, with a minor in Marketing and Masters of Arts Degrees' in Administrative Dynamics and Communication all from Western Kentucky University. Shameka also holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Indiana University.

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