On January 5-8, 2022, the Society for Historical Archaeology's annual meeting took place in Philadelphia. As with most conferences, the program was two years in the making. Members of the Philadelphia archaeological community began meeting in 2020, at the start of the pandemic, to plan a conference hoping that in 2022, the world will have returned to "normal". Unfortunately, COVID had other plans, with the omicron variant surging just as the conference was due to start.
Part of the annual SHA conference is a "Public Day" - a day where local archaeologists, museums, and other historic sites hold table-top activities to connect the general public to the world of archaeology and historic preservation. Kimberlee Moran of the Arch St Project team was a member of the Public Day organizing committee. In addition to the usual tables, Kimberlee suggested planning a COVID-proof activity "just in case." An idea was hatched: let's organize a self-paced walking tour of sites that no longer exist - the buildings and places that are gone, both physically and from collective memory. The "UnTour" was born!
Leveraging her colleagues at Rutgers-Camden, Kimberlee collaborated with Jim Brown and Bobby Emmons of the Digital Studies Center, and Charlene Mires and Nicole Belolan of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities to identify both sites and student podcasters to make the UnTour a reality. Bobby Emmons supervised an incredible team of Rutgers-Camden students who researched, scripted, recorded, and edited each "episode" of the UnTour. Included in the UnTour is the site of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia's burial ground.
Unfortunately, due to COVID, the in-person Public Day activities were canceled. Fortunately, thought, the UnTour provided at least one activity for the public. A big thank-you to the students and Rutgers-Camden faculty who made the UnTour a reality!