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Excavating Nauvoo

The Mormons and the Rise of Historical Archaeology in America

Benjamin C. Pykles , Foreword by Robert L. Schuyler

Publication Year: 2010

This detailed study of the excavation and restoration of the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, reveals the roots of historical archaeology. In the late 1960s, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored an archaeology program to authentically restore the city of Nauvoo, which was founded along the Mississippi River in the 1840s by the Mormons as they moved west. Non-Mormon scholars were also interested in Nauvoo because it was representative of several western frontier towns in this era. As the archaeology and restoration of Nauvoo progressed, however, conflicts arose, particularly regarding control of the site and its interpretation for the public. The field of historical archaeology was just coming into its own during this period, with myriad perspectives and doctrines being developed and tested. The Nauvoo site was one of the places where the discipline was forged. This well-researched account weaves together multiple viewpoints in examining the many contentious issues surrounding the archaeology and restoration of the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, providing an illuminating picture of the early days of professional historical archaeology.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-

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Foreword

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pp. ix- xiii

Historical archaeology is the archaeology of the modern world, the last five or six centuries of global cultural development. In light of its subject matter, it is not surprising that it emerged as an organized discipline last in the sequence of appearance of the various specialized archaeologies...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv- xvii

Numerous individuals unquestionably aid a project as long in duration as this has been. First among these is Robert L. Schuyler, who graciously agreed to write the foreword for the book...

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Series Editors’ Introduction

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pp. xix-xxi

Benjamin C. Pykles provides a remarkably even-handed case study of the history of historical archaeology in the context of excavating and restoring Nauvoo, Illinois, a sacred site for both major Mormon denominations, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS)..

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Introduction

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pp. 1- 11

On the afternoon of January 5, 1967, J. C. Harrington, “the father of historical archaeology,” and twelve other leading scholars in the field gathered in the North Park Inn Motel near the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The men had come to Dallas to participate in the International...

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1. The Origins of the Restoration of Nauvoo

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pp. 13-51

Approximately 150 miles north of St. Louis, the Mississippi River bends around a wide and flat peninsula in Illinois. It was here that early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, founded the city of Nauvoo (map)...

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2. The Rise of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.

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pp. 53-128

Early in 1956, Conrad L. Wirth, director of the National Park Service, submitted a proposal for a ten-year development program to improve the facilities of America’s national parks in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Park Service in 1966. The program was called Mission 66, and was soon approved..

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3. Interpretive Conflict at Nauvoo

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pp. 129-191

It is highly unlikely that the restoration project would have enjoyed broad support at federal, state, and local levels had NRI not promoted Nauvoo as a place of significance to American history. The decision to interpret Nauvoo in this way, however, was not universally self-evident to those involved...

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4. Historical Archaeology at Nauvoo

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pp. 193-289

An important element of the restoration of Nauvoo was the archaeological investigation of the houses and sites selected for restoration or reconstruction. Significantly, these investigations occurred at the same time that historical archaeology as a discipline was emerging as a professional scholarly endeavor...

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5. The Nauvoo Excavations and the Development of Historical Archaeology in America

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pp. 291-306

Historical archaeology — the archaeology of the modern world — was born in the American historic preservation movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its formal beginnings are linked to the institutionally sponsored excavations of famous historic sites in the 1930s. For example,...

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Appendix: Chronology of Nauvoo Excavations

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pp. 307-310

Historical archaeology — the archaeology of the modern world — was born in the American historic preservation movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its formal beginnings are linked to the institutionally sponsored excavations of famous historic sites in the 1930s. For example, most scholars point to the federally supported excavations...

Notes

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pp. 311- 355

Bibliography

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pp. 358-370

Index

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pp. 372-389


E-ISBN-13: 9780803228351
E-ISBN-10: 080322835X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803218932
Print-ISBN-10: 0803218931

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 26 photographs, 1 map, appendix
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Critical Studies in the Hist. of Anthro.

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Subject Headings

  • Nauvoo (Ill.) -- Antiquities.
  • Mormons -- Illinois -- Nauvoo -- Antiquities.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Illinois -- Nauvoo.
  • Historic preservation -- Illinois -- Nauvoo.
  • Archaeology and history -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
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