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Archaeological discovery

Assistant Professor Rebecca Graff has been in the news recently about a potentially exciting archaeological discovery underneath the Haymarket Martyrs Monument at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.

Graff and her colleague, Jane Baxter at DePaul University, had hoped to uncover an 1892 time capsule buried before the time of the monument’s erection in 1893. The purported time capsule is believed to contain trial documents, letters, articles, and other documents about the 1886 Haymarket Affair and the labor movement in the late nineteenth century.  

While conservators conducted analysis of a cylindrical object that Graff and researchers hoped was the time capsule, it now appears to be another sort of container. Nevertheless, the archaeological excavation conducted by Graff and Baxter, with help from 13 Lake Forest College and seven DePaul University students, uncovered artifacts from the nineteenth century—marbles, pieces of plates, flowerpots—that show the continuous use of the site as a site for play, picnicking, and for commemorating the eight labor leaders wrongly convicted of terrorism. Further artifact analysis is under way. 

Spearheaded by the Illinois Labor History Society, who first contacted Graff about the time capsule, the Haymarket project has received some financial support from Lake Forest College’s Digital Chicago: Unearthing History and Culture grant, for which Graff is the Chicago Archaeological Fellow. 

WBEZ interviewed Graff on Monday, October 10, and news coverage of the excavation also has appeared in the Cook County Chronicle as well as in the Forest Park Review.