Beginning in 2021, CIAMS faculty in collaboration with Gerard Aching (Africana) and Reverend Terrance King (St. James AME Zion Church) launched a new community engaged initiative to explore the history of the St. James community. The St. James AME Zion church building was constructed during the late 1830s and is today the oldest AME 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.
Excavations are being conducted in the Autumn of 2021 joining Cornell faculty and students with community youth ages 12-17. Our goal is to use archaeology as a forum for helping the Church and wider community tell empowering stories of our shared past.
St. James AME Zion Church of Ithaca: https://st-jamesamezionithaca.org
Adam T. Smith