Rebecca Graff with students at Charnley-Persky House excavation

Archaeological Digs

Dr. Rebecca S. Graff, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lake Forest College, has led two archaeological excavations at the Charnley-Persky House. Graff and Mary Leighton directed the 2010 archaeological field school through DePaul University's Urban Historical Archaeology Field School program. Over 20 undergraduate students worked for five weeks to uncover artifacts and features at the site. In 2015, Graff, with Tiffany Charles, directed excavations through Lake Forest College, assisted by a digital humanities grant from the Mellon Foundation, where they were joined by 10 students from Lake Forest College, Beloit College, St. Olaf College, Northeastern Illinois University, and Chicago's Lane Tech High School.

Charnley-Persky House Archaeological Project

Dig Photo Gallery


Disposing of Modernity

Disposing of Modernity
The Archaeology of Garbage and Consumerism during Chicago's 1893 World's Fair

Rebecca S. Graff


Artifacts from the excavations will be displayed in a forthcoming exhibition at the Charnley-Persky House in fall 2022.

SAH Metcalf Intern Christine Shang-Oak Lee photographed artifacts uncovered in the 2010 excavation and wrote about her work in a blog post. Click the "i" in the top left corner of the gallery for artifact information. All photos by Christine Shang-Oak Lee.

Media Coverage

2010 Excavation at the Charnley-Persky House

Chicago Tribune
Getting the Dirt on Chicago High Society,” July 28, 2010, by William Mullen
Watch Video

2015 Excavation at the Charnley-Persky House

Channel 11, PBS News, Chicago Tonight (WTTW)
“Students Dig For Lost Treasures in the Gold Coast” 

WGNtv News
“Urban dig truly makes trash into treasures for local students” 

CBS News
“Students Digging Up Historical Artifacts At Gold Coast Site” 

Chicago Tribune
“Relics of the past unearthed in Gold Coast”

Chicago Tribune
“Students dig for architectural treasures in Gold Coast” 

Lake Forest Patch
“Lake Forest College Students Taking Part in Historical Dig” 

Pioneer Press
“Lake Forest College students "dig" Chicago – literally” July 24, 2015, by Mark Lawton

Daily North Shore
“Digging Gold Coast Garbage” July 27, 2015, by Anne Marie Brugioni, Xhris Ftizgerald, and Dasha Rodina

Lake Forest College
"Urban Dig Creates Media Buzz"