MTSU staffer to discuss African-American archaeology in Tennessee this Thursday

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MTSU staffer Zada Law

MTSU staffer Zada Law will discuss the latest research on African-American life in Civil War-era Tennessee Thursday, July 16, as the special guest of the Rutherford County Archaeological Society.

The free public discussion is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. July 16 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro, located just off the Public Square at 225 W. College St.

Law, who serves as director of MTSU's Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology in the Department of Geosciences, will speak on "Landscape of Liberation: Archaeology and the African-American Geography of Civil War Tennessee."

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She was part of a research team specializing in archaeology, public history and archival science that recently completed an interactive online map -- The African-American Geography of Civil War Tennessee, available athttp://tnmap.tn.gov/civilwar/freedmen -- that shows the landscape of emancipation across Tennessee from 1861 to 1865.

The project includes more than 100 unique sites showing the transition from slavery to freedom in Tennessee, displayed with historical maps, manuscripts and photographs. It includes details on "contraband," or refugee, camps; United States Colored Troops soldiers' encampments; freedmen schools; labor impressment locations; and similar sites from the period.

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Every point on the map is connected to descriptive data and digitized primary source documents such as photographs, engravings, diaries or publications that tell the story of people, places and events as the former slaves made the transition from captivity to become free men and women.

Law's presentation will give an overview of the map and show how to access and use the "Landscape of Liberation" GIS Project data as well as the role it can play in archaeological research.

Law, a cultural resource specialist with more than 25 years' experience conducting archaeological surveys and planning assessments and evaluating archaeological sites for National Register of Historic Places eligibility in the Southeast and Midwest, has been the principal investigator for more than 150 archaeological and historic resources surveys. She also is a doctoral candidate in public history at MTSU.

The Rutherford County Archaeological Society meets monthly at the Heritage Center and welcomes guest speakers, the community and professional archaeologists to discuss the county's past and how to document and learn from it.

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