My specialization is historical archaeology, with a focus on the modern world and the relationship of archaeology to the public and community. My main geographic area of research has been Maryland, especially the Baltimore metropolitan region.  All my work to date has been deeply concerned with the dynamic and impacts of urbanization on different populations.  My theoretical focus centers on the interaction of urbanization and industrialization within political, social, and economic life during the modern period as seen through the research domains of labor, commoditization, power, identity, space, the built landscape, and heritage.  My research examines the material and spatial patterning of processes leading to the creation of the modern city during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Based on my interests, I am working to create an urban archaeology research program that draws upon and involves different groups and seeks to work directly with communities and affected populations.  In 2017, I organized the Baltimore Archaeology Forum (, an informal network of preservationists, archaeologists, and members of the public and community, to promote, protect, and better use the archaeological resources of the Baltimore area.  I am also now coauthoring a book on the archaeological history of Baltimore, and I recently authored a book chapter drawing from the writings of Frederick Douglass to compare the exploitation of different workers in the Baltimore area during industrialization titled, Between Freedom and Slavery: Understanding the Material Landscapes of Labor in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore and Texas, Maryland.

I earned my doctorate degree in anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2014.  My doctoral research focused on the patterns and effects of industrialization and urbanization during the mid-nineteenth to twentieth centuries in Baltimore County, Maryland.  Utilizing historical maps and records as well as interviews and over 150,000 artifacts required devising qualitative and quantitative methods to effectively examine the differential impacts of these processes on the skilled and unskilled workers of the small quarry town.  Through comparison of a range of artifacts, such as tobacco pipes, dining ceramics, buttons, and medicinal bottles, in combination with the built landscape modeled through GIS, I was able to document the development and perpetuation of material and spatial stratification and separation based on the needs of the quarry industry.  Similar patterns were noted in excavations of nineteenth and twentieth-century worker’s residences in southwestern Baltimore City where the needs of the local industrial economy shaped not only the physical layout of homes but also the quality and stability of the lives of residents. Dissertation Title:  Laboring in Stone:  The Urbanization of Capital in the Quarry Town of Texas, Maryland, and its Effects, 1840 to 1940

As an Assistant Research Professor in Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park, I am leading a project to expand public and professional access to the critical history of Annapolis and the Eastern Shore of Maryland through the construction of a digital database and platform for the Archaeology in Annapolis public archaeology program and the curation of the archaeological collection.

For the last two summers through UMD, I have codirected an archaeological field school in Austria to recover downed US airmen and aircraft from the Second World War in cooperation and coordination with the Austrian military, the US military, and the University of Vienna. We will run the Forensic Aviation Archaeology Field School in 2019 as well.  Please contact me if you are interested or see

I am also as an Adjunct Professor in Anthropology at the University of Delaware where I teach a range of undergraduate and graduate-level classes in anthropology and archaeology that are cross-listed in history and material culture studies.  My other recent work experience has included working as an archaeologist with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Maryland State Highway Administration, helping to oversee the management and mitigation of cultural resources and collections management.  During this time, I partnered with the NPS to coauthor an updated National Historic Landmark (NHL) Bulletin and an NHL Theme Study titled Labor Archaeology in the Industrial Era

Areas of Interest

  • Historical Archaeology, Heritage, Labor, Urbanization, Baltimore
Fracchia, Adam
fracchia [at]