Brooklyn was established in the 1820s across the Mississippi River from St. Louis and the slave state of Missouri. It was started as a settlement of African Americans escaping slavery, and later became the first black town in America to be incorporated. The growing town was also called Lovejoy in honor of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy, who was killed by a pro-slavery mob in nearby Alton, Illinois, in 1837.

Brooklyn grew as a community of craftspeople, laborers, and their families. A plat of the town was filed in 1837 and in 1873 it became the first African-American town to be incorporated. The goals of a new archaeology and historical research project are to understand how ethnicity, class, religion, racism, and developing markets influenced the ways in which individuals and families of this community made choices in shaping their natural, social, and built environments and in developing particular social traditions and economic strategies.

An interdisplinary, collaborative research project is underway that includes the University of Illinois Departments of Anthropology and African American Studies, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey Program (formerly called ITARP), and the Illinois State Museum, working in coordination with the Historical Society of Brooklyn.

The Historical Society of Brooklyn has created a Paypal interface so you can make a tax-deductible donation online to support their initiatives and efforts to preserve and celebrate the community's rich heritage. Please follow this link to make a contribution, and many thanks for your support!

This Web 2.0 portal provides resources for participating and discussing this ongoing project. Our thanks to the University of Illinois' Community Informatics Initiative for their support of these resources.

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You can also visit the Brooklyn community's group site on Facebook.

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Our group Flickr page provides maps, data images, and photographs which you can mark up with your own comments or questions.