The Historical Archaeology Section of the Penn Museum is the oldest such section in the United States, dating back to the early 1970s. Since the subject matter of Historical Archaeology involves the study of the Modern World (1400 CE to the present), such collections in North America date either to the Colonial Period or to the 19th-20th centuries.
The section at the Penn Museum has some purely 19th century holdings, especially the Walnut Prison assemblage from Philadelphia; however, its other major collections are from the active South Jersey Project centered around a 19th-20th century community in southern New Jersey. These collections, which are still coming out of on-going field excavations (2001 to the present), are currently being worked on in laboratories at the museum. When the South Jersey Project collections are formally acquisitioned they will consist of 19th century materials (1861 to 1900) but will also include one of the best early 20th century (ca. 1900 to 1940) archaeologically recovered assemblages in an American museum.