Status: Vol. IV, Episode 6 (56:40 min); original release November 2013.

“Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Lives” reveals the fascinating history of a diverse, working-class neighborhood established in Lexington after the Civil War. Davis Bottom is one of about a dozen ethnic enclaves settled primarily by African American families who migrated to Lexington from the 1860s to the 1890s in search of jobs, security and opportunity. Davis Bottom, located in a narrow, swampy valley about a mile southwest of downtown Lexington, is named after Willard Davis, a land speculator and civil rights advocate who became the Attorney General for the State of Kansas. Since its establishment in 1865, Davis Bottom has not only served as a portal community for African American families, but also for many European immigrants and Appalachian families who migrated to Lexington during the Great Depression. Over the past 150 years, residents have made this small, tight-knit neighborhood a hidden model for racial diversity and community cohesion.

Today, Davis Bottom is facing its greatest challenge with the construction of the Newtown Pike Extension, a roadway that has displaced many residents. Archaeologists, historians, architectural historians and anthropologists are working with residents and community leaders to document the remarkable history of the community as part of The Davis Bottom History Preservation Project. This educational media project features a one-hour documentary, a companion website with in-depth articles and educational resources, and a Digital Media Archive to preserve hundreds of rare archival images, family photographs and oral histories.

Davis Bottom promo (30 seconds)



2018 Award for Excellence in Public Education, Society for American Archaeology.

The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival, Eugene, Oregon, 2014. Special Mention, by Jury – Best Use of Social History, and Special Mention, by Jury – Best Music.


The Davis Bottom companion website has a wealth of information, articles and educational resources available for personal and educational use in four major areas: Archaeology, Anthropology, History and Architectural History.

Kentucky Archaeological Survey – home website

Kentucky Archaeology resources – KAS resources for viewers, teachers and students

DVDs: The Kentucky Archaeological Council sells DVDs of this program at cost. Contact David Pollack (859) 257-1944,


This educational media project is made possible with support from the Federal Highway Administration, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Archaeological Survey, Kentucky Heritage Council, Kentucky Educational Television and Voyageur Media Group, Inc.


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