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Time Team America: New Philadelphia, Illinois

Airs Wednesday, July 22 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: TIME TEAM AMERICA digging team members Chelsea Rose and Jeff Brown examine pieces of ceramics with local expert Floyd Mansberger and excavation strategist Eric Deetz. The shards were found at the site of New Philadelphia, Illinois, the first American town founded by a former slave. The ceramics indicate that the team may be digging near the site of an early 19th century home.

TIME TEAM AMERICA digs for the remains of the first American town founded by former slaves. In 1836 “Free Frank” McWorter purchased his freedom from a Kentucky plantation owner and headed North. When he reached Illinois, he planted roots, started a town, and sold enough property to purchase the rest of his family out of slavery. Now farmers’ fields cover this dramatic testament to victory over enslavement. The local landowners, descendants of the town’s residents, and the McWorter family want to uncover what remains of New Philadelphia to commemorate its place in history. TIME TEAM AMERICA joins in the search for the pre-Civil War schoolhouse where New Philadelphia’s African American children learned to read and write in freedom. Watch a preview online.

Field school is a rite of passage for most archaeologists. Every summer, archeological sites around the world are filled with students digging, documenting and learning how to do the science of archaeology. In Time Team America's online version of field school you can learn more about the basics of archaeology and the tools and techniques used in the series.