The French Colonial Heritage Project





To most residents of modern day Illinois, the fact that we were part of a French colony for nearly 50 years is barely apparent. Long before the American Revolution, families of French descent built homes, cultivated fields, engaged in the fur trade, and established towns along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

The French Colonial Heritage Project focuses on life in French Illinois communities (circa 1670-1820) using archaeological remains and documents from that period. The Project has conducted research-based excavations at several French domestic sites, and has also reexamined materials from previous excavations and studies.  In the process, it is hoped that these studies will highlight the importance and value of the remaining archaeological deposits, many of which lay on private property or in areas threatened by development. In addition to scientific study, the project produces publications, educational programming, and exhibits.