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The St. James A.M.E. Zion Church Community Excavations

We are very pleased to announce plans for the second season of community excavations at St. James A.M.E. Zion Church in Ithaca NY. Applications are now available for community participants. Children age 12-17 are invited to join us to learn about archaeology, the story of this historic church, and its role in the Underground Railroad. Information packets are available along with participant information forms. To apply to be a member of the 2022 excavation team, caregivers should complete the participant information form at the link and email it to [email protected]. Completed forms can also be mailed to Adam Smith, 261 McGraw Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14853.

Beginning in 2021, CIAMS faculty in collaboration with Gerard Aching (Cornell Africana) and Reverend Terrance King (St. James A.M.E. Zion Church) launched a new community engaged initiative to explore the history of the St. James community. The St. James A.M.E. Zion church building was constructed during the late 1830s and is today the oldest A.M.E. Zion church in the world still in active use. The building is known to have been the most important Underground Railroad station in Ithaca during the 1840s and 1850s.  Harriett Tubman is known to have spent time at the Church and Frederick Douglass also visited.  

As in 2021, our 2022 excavation teams will join community middle and high school kids with Cornell students to explore St. James’s past. Our goal is to use archaeology as a means to help the Church and wider community tell empowering stories of our shared past. And we hope to inspire Cornell students and Ithaca children to learn more about their own community and its rich history.

We encourage you to take the CyArk tour of the church and watch a video about the church made by Historic Ithaca.

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