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Archeology students uncover the cornerstone and outline of an African American church that was once part of Timbuctoo

Among the 15,400 artifacts Temple University archaeology students unearthed at Timbuctoo – a buried village of freed and runaway slaves along Rancocas Creek – was a tiny, cast-iron buffalo.

“There was also a little gun and a wagon wheel, all of which might have been part of a bank set” for a child to collect coins, said Patricia Markert, a Temple student who helped manage the school’s field project in 2010 and 2011 and then conducted several smaller digs last year.

The final batch of artifacts – including tiny pieces of glass from bottles found up to two feet below the surface – are being washed, analyzed, and catalogued, Markert said while photographing the historical site in Westampton Township, Burlington County, last week as part of her study. The buffalo was perhaps the most interesting find, she said, and was evidence of a community that thrived and then disappeared.

Because the excavation area is now covered over, the nearly three-acre site near the creek appears as just a grassy field with a hill and small cemetery off Church Road. Tucked into a stand of towering trees next to the field, the cemetery is the only visible sign of the site’s storied past. It bears the tombstones of 13 members of the U.S. Colored Troops who fought in the Civil War and lived in Timbuctoo.

Historians believe Timbuctoo was an enclave where as many as 125 African American families lived, starting around 1825 and ending in the mid-20th century. A stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves, it was also the setting for Battle of the Pine Swamp in 1860. In that encounter, the villagers used axes, knives, and guns to ward off a slave catcher when he arrived with a dozen helpers to wrest away the freedom of a black man living among them, according to several historic accounts.

“This site fits in with a larger narrative. . . . It was part of the slaves’ journey, a violent and difficult journey, to freedom,” said Markert, now a student at the University or Maryland pursuing her master’s degree.

On Tuesday, the Westampton Township Committee voted to move forward with plans to double the size of the historical site by acquiring adjacent land from a homeowner and applying for open-space funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“We believe Timbuctoo is a historical jewel that has not yet been advertised in a way to make it known to our residents, folks in Burlington County, and to students and schools,” Township Mayor Carolyn V. Chang said in an interview. “What we envision are walking trails with markers and historic events and educational programs at the site.”

Chang said Temple’s archeological dig had uncovered the cornerstone and outline of an African American church that was once part of Timbuctoo. Physical evidence of several houses was also found, she said, and future digs may reveal a larger area. She said town officials would like to continue to acquire properties around the site and along the creek, where she said runaway slaves would arrive by canoe.

Scientific surveys have determined about 70 people were buried in the cemetery despite the scarce markers, she said.

Christopher Burton, who supervised Temple’s digs, said historical deeds and research show Timbuctoo may have encompassed a 40 acres. “The dig at the site is not done by any stretch of the imagination,” Burton said. The town is looking into obtaining funds to reopen the exploration, he said.

The artifacts tell a story of how the villagers survived slavery, the Civil War, and then the Jim Crow era, Burton said. “They had to worry about slave catchers and then later, segregation and the KKK. But this was a place where people found a home . . . They were very proactive and survived. It’s a story of triumph and perseverance,” he said.

Burton said some of the artifacts are on display at the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences at the Mount Holly Library, and others are on loan to the New Jersey State Museum. The rest remain at Temple while they are being catalogued, he said, but they will ultimately all go to Westampton Township.

Chang said the archaeologists gave a presentation on their findings at several events held at Timbuctoo. She said the site had also hosted Civil War reenactments, speeches by historians, and commemorations with an African American choir from a church linked to the one that once stood at Timbuctoo.

“We’re hoping to do more next year,” Chang said.

Township Administrator Donna Ryan said the Westampton committee approved the acquisition of a more than two-acre parcel on Blue Jay Hill Road behind the current Timbuctoo site on Church Road. The lot is assessed at $195,000, but the state Green Acres program will negotiate the price with the homeowner, and will pay half of the cost if the town’s application is approved, Ryan said.

Chang said historians believe Timbuctoo stretched onto Blue Jay Hill Road and even reached the creek a few blocks away. “We want to acquire land so that we can show the entire historical site,” she said. “My hope is to also acquire property that includes access to the creek, which was used by the slaves, and would show how that community came about.”

By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer – Source


Student-athlete Alyssa Drachslin powers her team forward

VIDEO PRODUCTION: Gina Benigno

Since her arrival at Temple, student-athlete Alyssa Drachslin, Class of 2016, has earned praise as a leader both on and off the court.

A starting defensive specialist on Temple’s volleyball team, she says she draws her energy from her teammates, whom she calls her sisters, as well as from all of her fellow Temple athletes.

“Being a part of the Athletics Department at Temple is special—it’s kind of a bond within the department that our fun is playing sports,” she said.

Drachslin, who represents Temple both on the volleyball court and as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, credits the university with helping her to become the person she is today.

“Temple has prepared me for the real world,” she said. “Temple has presented me with extremely great opportunities to really take charge of my life and push myself.”


Morgen Snowadzky

National Coming Out Week: Morgen’s story

In recognition of Temple’s sixth annual National Coming Out Week celebration, meet Morgen Snowadzky, College of Liberal Arts, Class of 2016, recipient of Temple’s MarcDavid LGBTQ Scholarship Award. The scholarship was created in 2012 to recognize a student’s efforts to further the inclusion of the LGBTQIA community at Temple.

“In high school, I was going to go into English,” said the women’s studies major. “Once I got into figuring out my sexuality in high school, it made sense to me to look at everything through a gender and sexuality lens.”

Of the scholarship, Snowadzky said, “The voice that having this community of support gives me will be important for advocating for the expansion of resources [for the LGBTQIA community] that has become my mission.”

VIDEO PRODUCTION: Gina Benigno


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Temple University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa 2014 Inductees

On Wednesday, May 14, Temple University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious liberal arts honor society on the undergraduate level in the United States, held its induction ceremony for this year’s inductees. Greeted by Miles Orvell, Professor of English and American Studies and President of Rho Chapter, as well as by Hai-Lung Dai, Provost of Temple University, inductees heard a brief history of Phi Beta Kappa followed by student speaker, Helen Louise Gassman, who was a History major and Latin minor. Lila Corwin Berman, Associate Professor of History and the Murray Friedman Professor and Director of Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, also addressed the students. In recognition of extraordinary lifetime achievement in scholarship, Joseph Margolis, Professor of Philosophy was given Honorary PBK Membership. Students were then inducted into PBK by Richard Deeg, Vice President of Rho Chapter and Professor and Chair of Political Science, and Chris Wolfgang, Secretary of Rho Chapter and Director of Academic Advising.

2014 Inductees

Mary Kathleen Alice Ah Reum Allison
Chelsea Lynn Alvarado
Katherine Glory Ament
Andrew Baggaley
Elaine Grace Barton
Wilfred Towieh Beaye
David Corwin Braak
Sarah E. Brubaker
Claire Elizabeth Burns-Lynch
Christina Elizabeth Cerra
Melissa Isabel Chipollini
Jay Laughlin Copper
Emily Elizabeth Corry
Benjamin Cross
Patrick Charles DeBrosse
Kelsey Brianna deCerchio
Emily Della Fera
Lateefat O. Durosinmi-Etti
Gregory W. Ferris
Davea Angela Foster-Livingstone
Sonia Leayle Galiber
Shani Asha Gardner
Helen Louise Gassmann
Sara Ginsberg
Alex Joseph Hannan
Stephanie Hernandez
Bonnie Robin Holm
Elizabeth Vera Kemmerer
Mohammad Junayed Khan
Whitney Leigh Kling

Molly Teresa Lawrence
Chloe Hyun Lee
Keith William Lehman III
Alexandra Rockwell Lorenz
Madeline Elizabeth Luebbert
Michael T. Madeja
Keantre Martice Malone
Kelly I. McArdle
Joseph Flannery McCune
Rachel Renee Middleton
Hannah Moldt
Anne Norwood Nardolilli
Kutaiba Nazif
Lauren Hope Newman
Quynh Le Dieu Nguyen
Kathryn Claire Obrien
Stuart Olshevski
Ellen Catherine Papacostas
Rachel R Passman
Priyanka Sunil Patel
Angelyce Lawren Purnell
Kyra Bergen Lee Shore
Lea Cosette Stephenson
Donielle Lynn Streuli
Marta Sydoryak
Ashley Rose Tryba
Julia Ann Tunis
Elizabeth Cherie Tuzo
Lauren Daphne Williams


Senior criminal justice major Wilfred Beaye will attend Harvard Law School this fall.

Wilfred Beaye: Harvard bound

Degree: BS, criminal justice, College of Liberal Arts

Wilfred Beaye was only at Temple for two years, but he certainly made the most of his time. A transfer student from Bucks County Community College, Beaye will attend Harvard Law School this fall.

Beaye, who is the first in his family to attend college, says he owes much to his mother, who left behind her life and family in Liberia to move to the U.S. after his father’s death in the ’90s.

“When I was younger, I really didn’t appreciate [the sacrifices],” Beaye said. “I am really thankful that I can give her these kinds of moments and say, ‘Good job, Mom!’”

In addition to his mother, Beaye says that two aunts continuously reminded him of his potential. His Aunt Summer even prophesied his admission to Harvard: She bought a Harvard sweatsuit on a visit to the school when Beaye was in 10th grade and told people her nephew would attend Harvard one day.

At Temple, Beaye credits Aunshul Rege, assistant professor of criminal justice, with much of his academic success. He worked with Rege as a Diamond Peer Teacher, a competitive program at Temple that allows upper level undergraduates to co-teach college-level courses. And it was Rege who guided him on an undergraduate research project that examined the complications of law enforcement in physical and cyberspace, and recommended him for an internship as a crime analyst with the Amtrak Police Department.

In addition, Beaye says that each appointment with his advisor, Pre-law Program Director and Associate Professor Paul Crowe, gave him the confidence that he could do anything in his career.

“He was pivotal throughout the entire law-school application process,” said Beaye. “He continually encouraged me, even when I felt I was not the best applicant, reviewed my application components and answered all of my neurotic e-mails regarding my fears about each application.”

Beaye says that Temple really pushed him to achieve more than he thought possible.

“When I first came to school, I thought I was going to get out and just get a regular job, but Temple taught me I can do so many things,” he said. “I can use my education to help people. I can do things that influence the world in a way I didn’t realize before.”


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Public-history partnership leads to full-time work for Temple graduate

Seth Bruggeman, director of Temple’s Center for Public History, has long seen Philadelphia as a living, vibrant classroom. He has sent his students to study at the Eastern Penitentiary Prison and brought a roaming, interactive museum to the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. Now, he is collaborating with the Print Center—an art gallery and education center in Rittenhouse Square—to offer an internship and a full-time job to Mary O’Neill, a graduate student of public history.

Founded in 1915, the Print Center showcases print and photography exhibitions, and examines the changing role print and photography have played throughout history.

“The Print Center contacted me about the possibility of involving a student in developing exhibits and programming surrounding its 100th anniversary celebration,” Bruggeman said. “We used a tuition waiver to recruit Mary O’Neill, a stellar applicant with a background in the visual arts. It occurred to me that Mary might be willing to tailor her master’s thesis project to the Print Center’s needs if we could offer something special in return. What is more special these days than a job?”

O’Neill’s internship commences this summer, when she will sift through the city’s archives and help assemble collections for display. Her work with the Print Center will be exhibited for its centennial celebration next year. O’Neill’s background in the visual arts and anthropology will help her bring the past century in Philadelphia history to life through the art she discovers tucked away in the archives.

“These are boxes no one has gone through before,” O’Neill said. “Meeting minutes, correspondences, letters; I’ll be sorting through them all.” As she leafs through the material, she will be looking for artifacts that connect the Print Center’s history with the larger art world.

“I don’t know of any other public-history programs that offer a more reliable route to postgraduate employment,” Bruggeman said. “It’s a model that makes perfect sense in Philadelphia, a city whose public historical resources—including museums, archives and historic sites—are unparalleled in scope and quality. It also makes sense for a public-history program that prides itself on training dedicated historians with a passion for community engagement.”

“It’s a model that makes perfect sense in Philadelphia, a city whose public historical resources—including museums, archives and historic sites—are unparalleled in scope and quality.” — Seth Bruggeman, assistant professor of history and American studies

While O’Neill’s job is guaranteed, there are a few conditions attached: She must complete her program of study successfully in order for the Print Center to offer her the position. And though her first year of employment is guaranteed, anything longer than a year depends on the funding the Print Center has available.

“At a minimum, we expect that Mary will serve for roughly a year in the capacity of a project manager, a typical entry-level position for public-history graduates and a great way to begin building a résumé,” Bruggeman said.

O’Neill’s position also furthers the Print Center’s mission to highlight the importance of both printmaking and photography and further appreciation of those media.

“In addition to telling a valuable historical story about Philadelphia, the scope of the center’s anniversary celebration will continue to raise Philadelphia’s profile as an art destination,” said Elizabeth Spungen, executive director of the Print Center. “Hopefully, it will launch us to places we haven’t imagined yet.”

— Anna Goldfarb, SMC ’08


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Brittany Redfern: Experience and Determination

For her senior research project in sociology, Brittany Redfern set out to understand and bring awareness to barriers to breast feeding among low-income African-American women.

The idea for that research came from Joshua Klugman, assistant professor of sociology. Klugman encouraged Redfern to draw on her personal experience as a single mother to shed light on the poorly understood causes for socioeconomic and racial disparities in breastfeeding rates among women in the U.S..

A graduate of Philadelphia’s Central High School, Redfern learned she was pregnant as a sophomore at Temple and gave birth to her son  in October of her junior year. But her delivery did not stop her from earning her undergraduate degree in four years—nor did it keep her from gaining admission to Widener University School of Law, which she will begin attending in the fall.

Redfern is the first to admit she could not have done it without the network of support she found at Temple. That group includes an advisor who told her to stay in school, a professor who once allowed her to bring her son to a final exam and even an administrative assistant who let Redfern use the Department of Sociology’s fax machine to send an important document to her child’s pediatrician.

“My advisor, Rashidah Andrews, encouraged me to break down the stereotypes of young black mothers,” Redfern said. “When many said I should take a semester off, Rashidah pushed me forward and told me that a baby wouldn’t stop me from going where I planned to be.”

She also credits Associate Professor of Sociology Mary Stricker, CLA ’96, ’01, with helping her find her voice. “Mary constantly reminded me that my thoughts are valid and that I should speak up, because I represent a group that deserves to be heard,” Redfern said.

“Those at Temple have taught me what a support system is,” she said. “They want to see you reach your dreams and won’t stop helping you until you do.”

– Kim Fischer


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Three CLA students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awardees for 2014 have just been announced. Rochelle Coretta Cassells, and Kathryn Devlin – both pscyhology students – and Sierra Ross Gladfelter, geography major, have been awarded  NSF Graduate Research Fellowships for 2014. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. NSF received over 14,000 applications for the 2014 competition, and made 2,000 fellowship award offers.

 


Temple exhibit drives home local history

Temple exhibit drives home local history

“Manufacturing Fire”, the debut exhibit of the Philadelphia History Truck, opened Friday, documenting a people’s history of East Kensington. Temple University hopes to make the student-run project part of its permanent curriculum, and it may be a national model.

Read full story.

Jordan Klein, left, Exhibition Planning and Design Consultant, and Erin Bernard, right, Founding Director, are shown in the Little Berlin art gallery on April 2, 2014, where the exhibit is being installed. The painting “New Jerusalem” by Sister Helen Brancato, which is part of the exhibit, is shown by them. ( CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer )


Joyce Rasing was awarded the SIG (Straw into Gold) Scholarship, endowed by Ronnyjane Goldsmith, CLA ’68, ’70, ’82, and given to a student in the College of Liberal Arts who has lost one or both parents, “in order that their personal dreams and professional aspirations may come true.”

CLA student turns hardship into service

Renee Cree

Growing up, Joyce Rasing, Class of 2015, did not know her father. And for years, she lived in an abusive household with her mother and stepfather. When she was about to graduate high school, she experienced parental abandonment. Rasing was able to stay with her grandparents for a while, but was soon homeless. The weekend just before her first semester at Temple, she was finally able to secure housing.

Charges against Rasing’s stepfather were filed, and he went to court eventually. At the end of the first semester of her freshman year, the verdict was announced; in the summer of 2011, he was sentenced to 12 to 24 years in prison.

Rasing’s adversity has fueled a passion for helping others that extends from studying political science to dedicating her time to several organizations across Philadelphia. She tutors math at a women’s shelter, serves as a hotline counselor and directs a site for an SAT-prep program for low-income high school students.

“It has been a long road,” Rasing said. “Finding opportunities around the city to give back is a part of the healing process.”

In May 2011, Rasing was awarded the SIG (Straw into Gold) Scholarship, endowed by Ronnyjane Goldsmith, CLA ’68, ’70, ’82. That award is given to a student in the College of Liberal Arts who has lost one or both parents, “in order that their personal dreams and professional aspirations may come true.” Rasing says that after struggling for so long, receiving the scholarship was an immeasurable gain.

“The scholarship alleviates a lot of stress for me,” Rasing said. “With that and my state grants, I don’t have to worry about tuition payments.

“Why Ronnyjane gives is so inspiring,” Rasing continued. “Despite her own hardships, she’s been able to move on and move up, and to help others. I hope I can be like her one day.”

After Rasing graduates in February 2015, she plans to use her political-science degree to begin a career in public service, following in Goldsmith’s footsteps of giving back.

For those who might be living through a situation like Rasing’s, she offers some advice: “Surround yourself with individuals who want to see you succeed and will motivate you to keep going for whatever it is you really want. And don’t forget to pass that favor on to others.”