Diggers Hope To Unearth Millionaire Relics

IUPUI Students Dig At Former Madam Walker Home

Indianapolis college students are plowing into the area's history Monday in hopes that an archaeological dig will shed new light on the life of Madam C.J. Walker, America's first female self-made millionaire.

The dig is one the site of her Indianapolis home, along what is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, 6News' Julie Pursley reported.

"Madam Walker had two little factories here in her back yard where she started her business where she made … mostly hair care and beauty supplies," said Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis professor Paul Mullins. "We're interested in the industrial remains of those two factories."

An IUPUI class has made the dig its summer class project. Graduate student Lewis Jones came up with the idea for his dissertation.

"I'm hoping by doing this project it will help people remember who she was and the contribution she made to the community," Jones said.

Students hope to find pieces of trash that may have been buried in the back yard in the early 1900s when Walker lived just steps away from where a theater named for her now stands.

"We expect to find anything folks would throw away," Mullins said. "It's kind of a different way to tell a historical story."

Any discovered artifacts will be given to the Madam Walker Museum. It was common in the early 1900s for people to bury their trash in the back yard.

"I think it's outstanding that they have recognized the value and importance of the Madam Walker story," said Cynthia Bates, museum manager.

Walker's house was torn down in the 1960s, but Mullins said portions of the foundation remain. The dig will last through the end of June.