BOSTON – Monday, March 28, 2016 — Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today the official groundbreaking of a community-led archaeological dig at the Malcolm X Ella Little-Collins House in Roxbury. City Archaeologist Joseph Bagley and the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at UMass Boston will join the Malcolm X family and local community members to undertake the two-week survey ahead of future renovations to the property.
“This is an exciting opportunity for residents to unearth an important piece of Boston’s history,” said Mayor Walsh. “I thank Joe for leading this effort, and we look forward to the results.”
Visitors are welcome to the dig, and updates from the field will be shared online through the City of Boston’s Archaeology Program’s Facebook, Twitter , and Instagram accounts.
“This is truly a community archaeology dig,” said Bagley. “We have been working with the Collins family and the Roxbury community for months to plan and design this dig, and I’m excited Malcolm X’s family and the community will be digging their own history.”
The dig will begin today with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey that will look for below-ground anomalies that can be tested through archaeology. It will then be followed by excavations in areas determined to have greatest potential for artifacts and historical data through April 8th.
“Bringing UMass Boston’s cutting edge geophysics to work with the City Archaeologist and the Roxbury community is exciting for us. Archaeology today is as much about the technology as it is about the digging,” said Research Scientist, John Steinberg.
Rodnell Collins, the current owner of the property and nephew of Malcolm X, hopes that by helping to facilitate the survey he can raise public awareness of his family’s history. Rodnell hopes to continue that mission by converting the home into residential units for graduate students who volunteer in the community.
The 1874 Malcolm X- Ella Little-Collins House was designated a Boston Landmark in 1998. In 1941 Kenneth Collins and Ella Little Collins purchased the house and was soon joined by her brother Malcolm Little (later known as Malcolm X). Malcolm listed the residence as his official address until the late 1950s. The house is significant as the only surviving dwelling from Malcolm X’s Roxbury tenure and a rare surviving structure from his youth. Boston’s Archaeology Program is responsible for mitigating archaeological impacts to Landmarks-designated properties.