Princeville Community Collaborative Project

Princeville Joyner Library exhibit

Dr. Lynn Harris and Dr. Susan Pierce with Interim Dean Dr. Allison Danell in front of the traveling Princeville exhibit on display in Joyner Library.

Dr. Lynn Harris, in collaboration with Dr. Susan Pierce (ECU Sociology), are working on a Grassroots Community Project that is a collaboration between East Carolina University (specifically, departments of Sociology and History) and Fighters for Freedom Hill, a grassroots activist organization in Princeville, North Carolina. Princeville was incorporated in 1885 as the first independent free black community in the US. The history of the town is intricately tied to the multicultural maritime legacies of the Tar River and offer research initiatives in labor history, plantation and steamboat technology, port history, Native American and African American history.  Shiloh landing at Princeville was the inland location where enslaved Africans intended for plantation labor landed.

Students probing to determine extent of shipwreck site

ECU graduate students and research faculty use ground probes to determine the extent of a shipwreck site in the Tar River.

This project addresses the challenge of the deterioration and potential disappearance of Princeville due to numerous flooding events, both physically and in the collective memories of North Carolinians. The initiative is funded by North Carolina Humanities Council. It includes oral histories of Princeville residents, development of a digital collection of historical and current information about Princeville, archaeological exploratory surveys of the Tar River at Princeville, and an interdisciplinary community workshop for public education. Students have opportunities to work in a variety of diverse public outreach endeavors, to assist in workshop organization, and to participate in local river surveys in proximity to Greenville.

For more information on Princeville, check out the project website and news article!