(Above) Photographs depicting members of the field crew that located Franklin's house ruins are glued into Schumacher's report (1956:8) entitled "Preliminary Exploration of Franklin Court Archeological Project No. 4, May-Sept. 1953.
Identifying these individuals has been a concern of mine since 2003, when I learned of their participation in the excavation during research conducted for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Consortium (Jeppson 2005). The very first day of that project turned up eight black and white photographs (archaeological site record shots) glued into a preliminary site report written by Schumacher in 1956. These photographs revealed that the field crew who relocated the Franklin house ruins were African American -- something not commonly known today.
(Top) Schumacher's 1953 typed field notes, page 1. (Middle) The field notes for this date document that when APS funding ran out, the union workers were hired by NPS. (Bottom) Schumacher's field notes are presumably typed up from his handwritten draft after the fact, as attested to by this summary of hours on the last page of the notes.
Secondary research on the history of Franklin Court's discovery undertaken in 2005 provided some context for this labor history finding that the archaeological labor wage paid to Ransom and the others was $1 higher than the then current minimum wage (Jeppson 2007). (The National Average Wage Index for 1953 was $3140, the Median Wage Index for a family was $4100, and the minimum wage was .75 cents an hour.) Wage data for the period also reveals that Black households in the Northern states have two-times the income of those in the South (US Census Bureau Historical Income Table P-53 2004; Full time employee annual wage 1953). Union membership among Blacks in Philadelphia is presumably partly responsible for the higher Northern incomes.
So now the names of the co-rediscoverers of Franklin's mansion are known! The letter found this week in the Central Files was written May 19, 1953 and is from Schumacher to the Assistant Secretary of the American Philosophical Society (Schumacher 1956c). It summarizes the wages for the field crew -- and in doing so, identifies them by name!
INHP Archives materials referenced in this posting:
Schumacher, Paul J. F.
1953 a. Estimate for Excavation of Benjamin Franklin's Court [Archaeological Project No. 30, renumbered as "4"]. Schumacher, Acc. No. 59, Series 1: Reports, Box 10, Folders 1-3.
1953c. Letter (copy) to Julia Noonan (APS) May 19, 1953. Central Files, Box 34: Arch. Structures Franklin Court--Master Plan, 1953.
Other References cited...
Jeppson, Patrice L.
2007. Civil Religion and Civically Engaged Archaeology: Researching Benjamin Franklin and the Pragmatic Spirit. In B. Little and P. Schackel edited, Archaeology as a Tool of Civic Engagement. Pages 173-202. Lanham Maryland: Alta Mira Press.
2005. Historical Fact, Historical Memory: An Assessment of the Archaeology Evidence Related to Benjamin Franklin. Historical Archaeology research undertaken for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Consortium. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On file: INHP.