Mixed Methods Research in Rosewood
The Rosewood Heritage Project utilizes a variety of methods to investigate Rosewood’s development and demise. This includes historical archaeology, documentary research, oral history, and various digital methods. The first stage of the project centered on accurately locating structures that no longer exist. While limited archaeological excavations have taken place at various locations in Rosewood, this aspect of the project is ongoing and archaeology remains difficult given the ephemeral nature of historic structures, looting, and our dedication to sensitive collaborations with interested parties.
Therefore, initial work concentrated on two interrelated goals. The first successfully explored geospatial techniques for relocating destroyed structures on the landscape. This was accomplished through the use of geographic information system (GIS) combining property deeds, census records, and various historic data. This methodology involves: (1) identify the appropriate historic property records, (2) translate the boundary information in the document into a GIS file, (3) identify the owner in the census, (4) add census data to the GIS record, and (5) overlay this information on other forms of data including aerial photographs to help visualize the locations of destroyed structures.
The second goal drew on virtual archaeology (aka archaeological visualization) to recreate the town of Rosewood as an interactive virtual world environment. Since little photographic evidence exists of Rosewood (most family records were destroyed in the houses as they burned), a variety of data guided the 3D reconstruction. These data include oral histories by survivors and descendants describing the buildings. In addition, similar structures in nearby communities were architecturally documented to serve as a starting point to conjecturally reconstruct Rosewood’s buildings in the vicinity of Rosewood. You can interactively explore a fully reconstructed Rosewood here.