Few people in the history of the United States embody ideals of the American Dream more than Nathan Harrison (1833-1920). His is a story with prominent themes of overcoming staggering obstacles, forging something- from-nothing, and evincing gritty perseverance. In a lifetime of hard-won progress, Harrison survived the horrors of slavery in the Antebellum South, endured the mania of the California Gold Rush, and prospered in the rugged chaos of the Old West.

SDSU Anthropology Professor Seth Mallios has conducted archaeological excavations at Harrison’s original hillside homestead since 2004; his field schools have uncovered over 50,000 artifacts, providing spectacular new insights into this most American biography.

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Events & News

March 18, 2021
"Nathan Harrison: Born a Slave, Died a San Diego Legend" exhibit opens virtually
San Diego History Center

October 2019
Book release: Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

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