The Rosewood Heritage & VR Project draws on approaches in historical archaeology, documentary research, oral history, and various digital methods. Research began with a computer mapping project to reconstruct the boundaries for hundreds of historical properties between 1870 and 1930. The addition of census records, historical maps, and oral histories added important personal details.

Property deed mapping and census data provides household level data.

Today, practically all of Rosewood remains in private hands, which makes conducting archaeological excavations more difficult. While some landowners have been receptive to archaeological work, most have declined because of personal reasons, or in some cases, because they believe such work does little else than “open old wounds.” However, the purpose of this project is to develop a more accurate history of life in both Rosewood and Sumner during the early 20th century. Archaeological work has validated the accuracy of the computer mapping at a dozen sites. This includes recent excavations and ground penetrating radar (GRP) surveys funded by the Florida Division of Historical Resources.

Dr. Edward Gonzalez-Tennant and students work in Rosewood.

Another goal of this project is the use of digital technologies for public outreach, or the translation of academic research into public knowledge. This draws on digital heritage to virtually reconstruct Rosewood. Oral histories, photographs, and architectural documentation of nearby historic structures guide this reconstruction. At present, there are several ways to virtually explore Rosewood and its surroundings via the 3D links in the menu.

Screenshot of Rosewood: An Interactive History.

Also, digital storytelling and documentary video have been a part of the project from its inception. The Video page includes links to the original 26-minute digital documentary video that includes interviews with two survivors of Rosewood recorded in 2009. Currently, we are completing an hour long digital documentary for PBS. This video examines how archaeology and history reveal new information about Rosewood, and what this research means for descendants and the broader American society alike.

Stills from the forthcoming documentary on research in Rosewood.