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Philadelphia and the Development of Americanist Archaeology

Edited by Don Fowler and David R. Wilcox, with contributions from Jeremy A. Sabl

Publication Year: 2003

For two and a half centuries, Philadelphians have been actively involved in archaeological research. In particular, three vital and venerable cultural institutions—the American Philosophical Society (founded 1743), the Academy of Natural Sciences (founded 1812), and the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania (founded 1893)—have nurtured the "systematic study of antiquities." 

The ten essays in this volume focus on Philadelphians who were concerned with Americanist archaeology, or the "archaeology of the New World." As Europeans, and later, Euroamericans, spread across North, Central, and South America in the 16th through the 19th centuries, they encountered a bewildering variety of native peoples, customs, and languages, as well as tens of thousands of ancient ruins attesting to a long endemic culture history of obvious complexity. 

The essays examine most of the key players in the development of the methods to study these phenomena. Enlightenment scholars such as Benjamin Smith Barton, Peter S. Duponceau, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Garrison Brinton, John Wesley Powell, and Benjamin Rush all contributed to the surge of scientific study of America's prehistoric cultures. So did two pioneering women who have received scant attention to date—Sara Yorke Stevenson and Lucy W. Wilson—but whose work is well treated in this study. Other essays detail the varied contributions of C. C. Abbott, Frank Hamilton Cushing, Clarence B. Moore, Edgar Lee Hewett, and John L. Cotter. This volume should stimulate continued interest in the origins and history of archaeology and the relationship of Philadelphia patrons and institutions to scientific inquiry.



Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-vii

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pp. ix-x

Philadelphia has not fared well in the popular imagination. In leafing through a variety of books on famous quotations, I have found that from Mark Twain (“In Boston they ask, How much does he know? In New York, How much is he worth? In Philadelphia, Who were his parents?”) to Howard Ogden (“Philadelphia: all the filth and corruption of a big city...

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pp. xi-xx

When we were asked by the Society for American Archaeology to organize the third Gordon Willey Symposium in the History of Archaeology, we thought first of the venue where the symposium would occur: Philadelphia. Philadelphians have long been actively involved in the organizing, funding, and doing of archaeology. Much of the organizing, funding...

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1. Drab Doves Take Flight: The Dilemmas of Early Americanist Archaeology in Philadelphia, 1889-1900

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pp. 1-20

In the remarkable observations of his native country published in1905 as The American Scene, Henry James captured the unassuming grace of Philadelphia with the colors of the breast of a dove: Quaker drab mixed delicately with shades of iridescent pink, silver, and green. James’s urban, Quakerly dove embodied the “sane society” that he claimed to have found...

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2. Toward Consensus on the Scope of Anthropology: Daniel Garrison Brinton and the View from Philadelphia

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pp. 21-35

Late-nineteenth-century synergy between local scientific societies in major eastern cities and professionalization of American science at the national level occurred across the disciplines of the social and natural sciences. In anthropology, the newest of the social sciences, the trend toward professionalization played out in the very definition and scope of the emerging discipline. A four-subfield structure...

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3. Unsung Visionary: Sara Yoke Stevenson and the Development of Archaeology in Philadelphia

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pp. 36-47

In the last years of the nineteenth century, the modern university was still being created. Vestiges of past academies lived on in the reconstruction that led to the new. The modern museum and archaeology as a profession were in their infancy. Archaeology, still centered in museum collections, had not yet committed itself to the academic venue it inhabits today. The decades...

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4. In the Heat of Controversy: C.C. Abbott, the American Paleolithic, and the University Museum, 1889-1893

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pp. 48-87

In 1872 Charles C. Abbott (1843–1919)—a naturalist and collector in Trenton, New Jersey—took the first tentative steps toward establishing an American Paleolithic. Over the next ten years his archaeological collecting and writing intensified, and he laid the foundation for the American Paleolithic in a string of papers published through the 1870s and into the 1880s....

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5. Restoring Authenticity: Judging Frank Hamilton Cushing's Veracity

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pp. 88-112

When Frank Hamilton Cushing died in April 1900, many of his memorialists (American Anthropologist 1900) remembered with awe his abilities to fabricate Indian crafts so correctly that they appeared to be as authentic as their Indian-made counterparts. Indeed, examples of Zu

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6. Clarence Bloomfield Moore: A Philadelphia Archaeologist in the Southeastern United States

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pp. 113-133

Clarence Moore, who probably excavated and reported more archaeological sites than any individual who ever lived, is practically unknown outside the circle of archaeologists working in the southeastern United States. Moore was a lifelong resident of Philadelphia who over the period 1891 to 1918 excavated more than 850 sites, the vast majority of which...

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7. Lucy L. Wilson, Ph.D.: An Eastern Educator and the Southwestern Pueblos

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pp. 134-155

Her name is not well known to anthropologists in Philadelphia (see chapters in this volume) or in the American Southwest, yet Lucy LangdonWilliams Wilson (fig. 7.1) conducted a study of southwestern archaeologyand ethnology at a time when few women were responsible for such research projects (Babcock and Parezo 1988, Fowler 2000, Parezo 1993). For three...

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8. The Second Largest City in the English-Speaking World: John L. Cotter and the Historical Archaeology of Philadelphia, 1960-1999

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pp. 156-164

In popular American history it is sometimes claimed that by the middle of the eighteenth century or by the outbreak of the American Revolution, Philadelphia was “the second largest city in the English-speaking world.” Such a demographic privileging is almost certainly wrong if cities on a scale of a Dublin or an Edinburgh are noted. This claim...

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9. Archaeology, Philadelphia, and Understanding Nineteenth-Century American Culture

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pp. 165-180

There are two stories that unfold in the pages of the essays collected here, one about a science, the other about a city. The first contributes in important ways to the developing historiography of American archaeology. This is particularly important because the writing of the history of archaeology—especially of American archaeology—has lagged behind that of many other...

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10. Philarivalium

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pp. 181-187

We have here an ethnography of a segment of Philadelphia society between the Civil and World Wars. Illuminated by the burning souls of restless nonconformists, Philadelphia appears a city of intense rivalries fed by tidal currents of economic change. (“Rival,” from Latin rivalis, derived from rivus: one who draws from the same river as another.) Some, such as Abbott...


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pp. 189-193


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pp. 195-230


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pp. 231-233


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pp. 235-246

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384630
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817313128

Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 607840651
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Philadelphia and the Development of Americanist Archaeology

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • University of Pennsylvania. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Archaeology -- United States -- History -- Congresses.
  • Archaeology -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- Congresses.
  • Archaeologists -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- Biography -- Congresses.
  • Anthropology -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- Congresses.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Intellectual life -- Congresses.
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