Behind the Photograph: “A Good Maine Dinner”

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Warren K. Moorehead and crew in camp, Penobscot River, Maine, 1912. Photograph by Charles A. Perkins. Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology, Photograph Collection

Ever wonder what lies behind a photograph? Beyond the simple description scrawled on the back of each image? The Peabody collection contains more than 600,000 artifacts, photographs, and documents. The Peabody’s photograph collection, specifically, is extensive and contains many interesting, yet untold stories. To bring these stories and photographs to light, we would like to share them with YOU, fellow readers, in our blog series, Behind the Photograph. You can find these stories using our BehindThePhoto tag on our blog.

The year is 1912, the site is an expedition campsite located along the Penobscot River in Maine. On the right a crew member sits on the ground with his back to the camera, legs stretched out in front of him, ankles crossed, balancing his dinner on his lap. Near the tent we see three individuals close together. One sitting through the smoky haze of the campfire, another standing with his plate in his hands – last to get his meal or maybe in line for seconds? An apron on the third individual identifies the camp cook. To the left two individuals sit on tree stumps with dinner plates on their laps, enjoying “a good Maine dinner,” as the title of this photograph describes. The individual in black, farthest to the left, is none other than Warren K. Moorehead, the Peabody’s first curator and Peabody director from 1924 to 1938.

Warren K. Moorehead and Maine Expeditions

During this decade, Maine was a popular destination for archaeological field projects sponsored by the Peabody (known then as the Archaeology Department at Phillips Academy Andover.) Warren K. Moorehead’s first expedition to Maine was organized in 1912. The camping image above was taken along the Penobscot River during this expedition. This venture was so successful that Moorehead sent both survey and excavation crews to Maine each summer for the next three years. During this period, crews surveyed a large portion of Maine’s rivers and excavated dozens of sites. Maine remained the primary destination for the Peabody’s field projects for the remainder of this decade. Although Moorehead’s archaeological interests were focused elsewhere after 1920, he continued to send crews to Maine as late as 1926.

Glass Plate Negative

Much of the Peabody photographic collection is fragile. The Maine expeditions took place at a time when photography, as well as archaeology, was undergoing radical change. With the introduction of smaller and less expensive film cameras, the large and cumbersome view cameras with glass plate negatives were quickly replaced. This transition is reflected in the Moorehead photographic collection.

This image is one of 130 glass plate negatives in the Moorehead photographic collection at the Peabody. Most of these glass plate negatives (including this image) are 5 x 7” in size and appear to have been taken with a Rochester Optical Company, New Model (1890) view camera.  There are a few larger negatives in the Peabody’s photographic collection that are about 6 x 8” in size that were taken with an Improved Model Seneca view camera (1906). The Seneca view camera is still located at the Peabody to this day!

1906 Improved Model Seneca view camera at the Peabody

For further reading about Warren K. Moorehead and his archaeological excavations in Maine check out Warren K. Moorehead’s text, The Archaeology of Maine.

Summer Reading List: Our Peabody Staff Picks

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Ah, summertime. The Andover Summer session has ended, students have left campus, the weather is warm (too warm at times), and it’s time for some relaxation and rejuvenation before we start the new school year. What better way to enjoy the rest of your summer than with a good book! But with so many books out there, how do you choose?

Thankfully, members of the Peabody staff are here to share their “Peabody Picks” with you dear readers! Below are some of our favorite reading recommendations based on what our staff is currently reading or has read this summer. Enjoy!

Ryan Wheeler, Director – Decolonizing “Prehistory”: Deep Time and Indigenous Knowledges in North America

Decolonizing “Prehistory” combines a critical investigation of the documentation of the American deep past with perspectives from Indigenous traditional knowledges and attention to ongoing systems of intellectual colonialism. It’s a 2021 collection of essays edited by Gesa Mackenthun and Christen Mucher. I was initially pointed to the first chapter by a colleague—that’s by the late Annette Kolodny and titled Competing Narratives of Ancestry in Donald Trump’s America and the Imperatives for Scholarly Intervention. The other essays are equally provocative and engaging! It can be read online for free here!  

“This book packs a double revelation and, with it, an important message for the environmental movement.” – Heather Menzies, Watershed Sentinel

Marla Taylor, Curator of Collections – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

In a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live a life of freedom.  But, the deal is not what she expected.  Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

“Completely absorbed me enough to make me forget the real world.” – Jodie Picoult, Washington Post

John Bergman-McCool, Assistant Curator – The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack

The Universe had a beginning, and it will have an end. Modern cosmology — the study of the nature and evolution of the cosmos itself — has allowed physicists to explain the history of the Universe from the first tiny fraction of a second until today. But what’s next? We now have the tools to extend our knowledge into the distant future and speculate about the ultimate fate of all reality.

“A thrilling tour of potential cosmic doomsdays….Mack’s infectious enthusiasm for communicating the finer points of cosmological doom elevates The End of Everything over any other book on the topic.” –The Wall Street Journal

Lindsay Randall, Curator of Education and Outreach – STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

While it has no right to be – given the topic – Mary Roach has written a book that is hilariously funny as she takes the reader on a tour of what can happen to human bodies after death. I enjoyed 99.99999% of the book, with the only downside being the part that describes what maggots sound like when feeding… Now I am forever like Ron, the poor unsuspecting media relations guy who was only trying to be nice as he drove Mary around, as I too used to like Rice Crispies.

“One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year….Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting.” Entertainment Weekly

Emma Lavoie, Administrative Assistant – The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room returns with a thrilling reconstruction of one of the most notorious events in literary history: Crime novelist, Agatha Christie’s mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926. History and true crime lovers, this book is for you!

“A stunning story… The ending is ingenious, and it’s possible that Benedict has brought to life the most plausible explanation for why Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926.” – The Washington Post

Beth Parsons, Office of Academy Resources, Director for Museums and Educational Outreach – The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation. An interesting tie to Andover, she is the daughter of Richard T. Greener (Andover alumnus, ‘1865), the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality.

“Historical fiction at its best…The Personal Librarian spins a complex tale of deceit and allegiance as told through books.” Good Morning America

David Spidaliere, Collection Project Assistant – Engaging Archaeology: 25 Case Studies in Research Practice by Stephen W Silliman

Bringing together 25 case studies from archaeological projects worldwide, Engaging Archaeology candidly explores personal experiences, successes, challenges, and even frustrations from established and senior archaeologists who share invaluable practical advice for students and early-career professionals engaged in planning and carrying out their own archaeological research.

“Unique and thoughtful, Stephen W. Silliman’s guide is an essential course book for early-stage researchers, advanced undergraduates, and new graduate students, as well as those teaching and mentoring. It will also be insightful and enjoyable reading for veteran archaeologists.” Wiley-Blackwell Publishing

Jessica Dow, Collection Project Assistant – Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man by Nina Lyon

Who, or what, is the Green Man, and why is this medieval image so present in our precarious modern times? An encounter with the Green Man at an ancient Herefordshire church in the wake of catastrophic weather leads Nina Lyon into an exploration of how the foliate heads of Norman stonemasons have evolved into today’s cult symbols.

“Lyon’s search for the meanings of the folk image and symbol of rebirth take her from neopagan Cornish festivals to the forests of south-west Germany. She is both political and sardonic.” The Guardian

Richard Davis, Peabody Volunteer – Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson by Peter C. Mancall

The English explorer Henry Hudson devoted his life to the search for a water route through America, becoming the first European to navigate the Hudson River in the process. In the winter of 1610, after navigating dangerous fields of icebergs near the northern tip of Labrador, Hudson’s small ship became trapped in winter ice. Provisions grew scarce and tensions mounted amongst the crew. A story of exploration, desperation, and icebound tragedy, Fatal Journey vividly chronicles the undoing of the great explorer, not by an angry ocean, but at the hands of his own men.

“Mancall’s account of the doomed voyage is exciting, tense, and tragic…. This is an excellent re-examination of [Hudson] and his final, sad effort.” – Booklist Magazine

Michael Agostino, Peabody Volunteer – Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

A wonderful non-fiction book where the author assembles many decades of Neanderthal research into a clear description of how they lived, survived challenges, and created art. I especially like the detail she provided on how the many stone artifacts were sourced and created. This fueled my imagination as I work with the many pieces in the Peabody collection.

“‘Kindred’ is important reading not just for anyone interested in these ancient cousins of ours, but also for anyone interested in humanity.” The New York Times

Andover Summer Returns: Dig This! class at it again

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

The Peabody is keeping busy this summer with volunteers, interns, events and visits, researchers, and of course hosting the Andover Summer Session class, Dig This!

Dig This! students in class and learning to read an excavation site.

During the month of July, the Peabody hosts the Dig This! class, a course offered by Phillips Academy’s Andover Summer Session. This Lower School initiative takes a closer look at some crucial episodes in the development of this country to hone skills and understanding of dynamic interactions that took place between Native peoples and European newcomers, which continue to shape the United States to this day.

Using the Peabody Institute’s collections, together with extensive library and internet materials, students actively explore a series of case and character studies to understand the minds and strategies of important individuals from some of the most significant events in history. In addition, students attend field trips to nearby historical sites that bring these stories to life.

Dig This! students on field trips to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard and Old Sturbridge Village

Students then get to participate in their own archaeological excavation of the Mansion House at Phillips Academy – the home of PA founder, Samuel Phillips, Jr. It’s always so exciting to see what these students discover as they take part in this unique opportunity to witness history.

Dig This! students excavating the Mansion House site

Be on the lookout for more updates on students’ findings through our social media this month and maybe even a blog from one of our Dig This! class instructors!

We hope you all are having a wonderful summer!

Aloha from Kauai

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

After two years and three rescheduled trips (thanks Covid), I finally was able to travel to Kauai, Hawaii. Of all the activities and sites to see on the island, I couldn’t miss visiting some of Kauai’s historical and archaeological sites. The Hawaiian Islands are rich with history and it was wonderful to learn about Hawaii’s culture and traditions during my time on Kauai. Here are a few of my favorite sites and some history that I learned while visiting the island of Kauai.

The island of Kauai is one of many islands that make up Hawaii. There are eight major islands commonly seen on maps, but that does not account for all of them. For many people, only the four largest of the islands usually come to mind – Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. These islands are the most well-known, but there are actually 137 islands and 5 counties that make up the state of Hawaii.

Map of the Eight Major Islands of Hawaii

Kauai is nicknamed “the Garden Isle” for its lush green mountains and valleys and rich biodiversity. At the heart of this fertile land is Mount Wai’ale’ale. With average annual rainfall of 400+ inches, this mountain is a sustainable source of water for the island’s agriculture, drinking water, hydroelectric power, recreation, and numerous other public uses. Mount Wai’ale’ale is part of an ancient volcano that formed Kauai in its last eruption over 5 million years ago. The explosion not only gave the island its unique shape, it created the entire east side of Kauai. Today the mountain is a half moon-shaped depression (also known as a caldera). This shape combined with island trade winds, creates a large amount of fog, mist, clouds, and rainfall making this location one of the wettest places on earth!

Inside the caldera of Mount Wai’ale’ale
In 1982, the caldera had a record-setting 683 inches of rain!

Kauai has a unique history being the oldest inhabited of the main Hawaiian Islands. It was the only Hawaiian island that was not conquered by King Kamehameha, entering a peaceful resolution with Kamehameha in 1810. Later in 1864, the Robinson Family purchased over 55,000 acres of Kauai and over 46,000 acres on the island of Niihau from King Kamehameha V for $10,000 in gold (about $170,000 today). In purchasing these lands, the family promised to protect the island and its residents from outside influences. Today, over five generations later, the descendants of the Robinson family have upheld their promise requesting that 76 percent of its non-conservation lands be designated as important agriculture lands, with protection from future development.

Sugarcane was Kauai’s primary economic resource, dominating the industry until the mid-20th century. Sugar was introduced to the island by the Polynesians and later the first sugar extracting operation and mill was established in the southern town of Koloa in 1835. Soon sugar plantations developed on the east side of the island – the Lihue Sugar Plantation expanding quickly due to its fertile land around the Wailua area fed by Mount Wai’ale’ale. By the 1960’s, the sugar industry began shutting down due to labor strikes, politics, and the statehood of Hawaii. The Lihue Sugar Plantation was one of the last operating plantations, shutting down in 2000.

Although the sugar industry has since ended, many sugar plantation sites are still present. I had quite the adventure exploring the Lihue Sugar Plantation, as the site is now accessible by mountain tube. Mountain tubing?! You may ask – why of course! Picture a lazy river-experience (although not so lazy at times) down some of the plantation’s old hand-dug canals and tunnel systems circa 1870. In many of these tunnels, you can still see the marks from workers’ pickaxes. Workers tried to save time and extend one of the tunnels with dynamite. This technique was discontinued after their first try, but a large chamber in the tunnel ceiling remains.

Lihue Sugar Plantation Canal, circa 1870

Mountain tubing the Lihue Sugar Plantation canal and tunnel system

My favorite location on the island was the Honopu Valley, located along the Napali Coast. The Honopu Valley is one of the most beautiful and mysterious sites with cathedral cliffs that reach up to 1,200 feet. Much of this side of the island is inaccessible by road and is best visited by helicopter or boat. The Honopu Valley, also known as the Valley of the Kings, is the source of many Hawaiian legends. For this reason the site is the most remote and secluded along the coast, being extremely difficult and dangerous to access due to the spiritual significance of this burial site.

The Napali Coast on the island of Kauai

Legends aside, the Honopu cliffs were used as burial sites for ancient Hawaiian Ali’i (royalty) that ruled along the Napali Coast. Hawaiians believed that their chiefs were direct descendants of gods and their remains contained powerful mana (life force).  To avoid the mana falling into the wrong hands, a chief’s remains needed to be buried in a secret location.

Honopu Valley (Valley of the Kings)

Warriors, chosen from birth, were designated to bury the chief’s remains in the cliff walls. They would either climb hundreds of feet up the steep cliffs or lower themselves down the cliff walls by rope in search of a suitable location for the chief’s remains. Once carefully buried in the cliff walls, the warrior would jump or cut their rope, falling to their death – securing the location’s secrecy forever.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources limits visitors to this site out of respect for the sacred history of the Honopu Valley, although there have been several exceptions to these regulations for Hollywood, with movie scenes of Honopu filmed in King Kong (1976), Six Days Seven Nights, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Honeymoon in Vegas, and Jurassic Park 3.

It is quite remarkable to see these cliffs from air and water, knowing the honorable yet fatal task these warriors were selected for. It is said, to this day, the remains of these warriors can be seen in the sand dunes underneath the cliffs after being exposed to heavy rains or winds.

Coastal hiking trail view – Cliffs above Shipwreck Beach

After a two mile hike along the coastal trail from Shipwrecks Beach, you’ll come across a site frozen in time – the Makauwahi Cave Reserve. From above, the reserve looks like a tropical oasis amongst the rocky, volcanic cliffs and dune vegetation. If you’re lucky enough to find the cave’s entrance you can expect to be greeted by a small hole in the cave wall that visitors must crawl through as their rite of passage into the cave. Once through, you’ll emerge from the dark, cavern entrance and step back in time to Hawaii’s largest limestone cave and fossil site.

Entrance to the Makauwahi Cave

For over 100,000 years, water has seeped into the cave and eroded the limestone. As a result, 7,000 years ago a large section of the cave ceiling collapsed, leaving behind a vast oval opening to the sky. This formation created a unique time capsule of geological change and biological occupation.

The thick walls of the Makauwahi Cave preserves over 10,000 years of animal fossils (shells and bones) and plant fossils (seeds, leaves, and wood.) From a 352,000-year-old lava flow to a Styrofoam cup washed in by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the prehistoric sinkhole preserved everything and anything that fell into it.

The Makauwahi Cave Reserve from above

Today, archaeologists and paleoecologists study the cave’s sediment layers and fossils to understand the prehistoric landscape and its change overtime. Using innovative restoration techniques, researchers and scientists are experimenting in native species conservation with abandoned farms and quarry lands surrounding the site. Through this initiative, acres of forest land, dune vegetation, and wetlands are being restored, featuring many species of native plants and endangered species such as waterbirds and blind cave invertebrates. There’s even a giant tortoise sanctuary in one of the wetland reserves near the cave! Learn more about the Makauwahi Cave Reserve and its current restoration project here!

Meet Maurice, a 20+ year old giant tortoise from the Makauwahi Cave Reserve Tortoise Sanctuary

Save the Date! PA Giving Day Begins March 30, 2022!

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Mark your calendars! PA Giving Day begins Wednesday, March 30, 2022! This year, the PA Giving Day event will run from Wednesday, March 30, 9 a.m. to Thursday, March 31, 12 p.m. EDT.

For those inspired to give early, please complete the PA Giving Day form here! Please be sure to select the Robert S. Peabody Institute under the “designation” section. Any gift made in advance of the event will count toward PA Giving Day totals.

Last year the Peabody Institute garnered 70 gifts! This year we hope to have more challenges and even more support! Keep a look out for exciting posts and takeovers across our social media channels leading up to PA Giving Day!

PA student preparing to throw an atlatl on the Vista

Back with Even More Repurposed Drawers!

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

With the completion of our inventory, we have even more drawers to share with you that were repurposed by friends of the Peabody!

Hundreds of old collection drawers were given away throughout the Peabody’s collection inventory and rehousing project. These drawers were then transformed into furniture, décor, art, trays, storage, organizers, and gifts.

Our past blogs featured many different and unique drawer projects and we loved seeing the creativity used in giving these old drawers a new purpose. You can check these projects out here and here.

The wooden drawers were a part of the original storage for the Peabody collections, housing over 600,000 artifacts. To learn more about the history of these drawers in the Peabody Institute and collection check out our blog, Behind the Photograph: Unpacking the Peabody Collection.

The following drawer features were contributed by friends of the Peabody both on and off Phillips Academy campus. First up are several painted drawers used for various décor purposes. A little paint and stain can go a long way in repurposing the look of a drawer.

Painted and stained drawers

This particular drawer is a charming holiday tray, painted and customized as a fun way to leave cookies and milk out for Santa. Don’t forget the carrot for Rudolph too!

Holiday tray created out of an original Peabody drawer

Some of our old drawers were transformed into incredible pieces of art by Jamie K. Gibbons, Head of Education at the Addison Gallery of American Art. Follow and support her work here!

Artwork by Jamie K. Gibbons, Addison Gallery of American Art

To commemorate the Peabody’s Inventory completion and thank donors, staff, and volunteers who played a role in the process, puzzle pieces were created from drawers by Get On Board – Signs and More as well as puzzle boxes by the Makerspace at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) on Phillips Academy Andover campus.

Puzzle pieces and puzzle box made out of drawers

A huge thank you to all of those who have repurposed drawers and have shared their projects with us. If you’d like to feature your repurposed drawer project, please email your photos to Emma Lavoie, Peabody Administrative Assistant, at elavoie@andover.edu.

Annual Report 2020-2021

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

The Peabody’s annual report for academic year 2020-2021 has just been released! This report highlights the Peabody’s response to challenges brought by COVID-19 and all we’ve been able to accomplish despite a global pandemic, including the creation of our Diggin’ In Digital Lecture Series (partnered with the Massachusetts Archaeological Society), virtual lessons and digital resources developed by the Peabody, completion of the Peabody’s Collection Inventory Project, and continuing our NAGPRA consultation and repatriation work.

You can read the report in its entirety HERE.

Completion and Consumption: Ties to Tuberculosis in the Peabody Collection

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Last month we were happy to announce that the Peabody officially completed its collection inventory! Special recognition goes out to our previous Inventory Specialists John Bergman-McCool and Emily Hurley, our financial supporters, as well as our volunteers, work-duty students (past and present), and Peabody collection staff who’ve participated in inventorying the collections from 2017 to present.

Reflecting back on all the drawers I personally inventoried and rehoused, there was one particular item and site that I wanted to share. This item is a large, chipped stone knife from the Swamp site in North Reading, MA.

Item 42/6529 – One large, chipped stone knife from the Swamp site in North Reading, MA.

After looking through the Peabody’s accession file cards, I found more items from the same site consisting of various stone points, perforators, gouges, and knives. The most interesting discovery from my search was the location where these items were found. The land in which the Swamp site was located was at one point in time the location of the North Reading State Sanatorium.

Accession file card detailing the objects were found by Mr. Margerison at the North Reading Tuberculosis Hospital site and sold to Dr. Moorehead by Mr. Margerison’s son.

According to a 1933-1935 survey by the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association, the term “sanatorium” is an institution operating exclusively for the treatment of tuberculosis. Originally called the Martin’s Brook Sanatorium, the North Reading State Sanatorium was one of four hospitals in Massachusetts for patients with tuberculosis, opening in 1909. The property consisted of 23 structures on 87-acres of land, including a church and school.

During this time, tuberculosis (also known as consumption) was the leading cause of death in both the United States and worldwide, most prevalent amongst teens and adults under 40. Fresh air was considered one of the best ways to treat the disease and was one reason why the North Reading location was chosen for the sanatorium.

View of an open porch – a method of protecting porches by canvas curtains in stormy weather. John A. Fox, Architect. North Reading State Sanatorium, North Reading, MA.
Image from the Tuberculosis hospital and sanatorium construction, written for the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis by Thomas Spees Carrington, 1911.

In her 2013 presentation, “The Martin’s Brook Sanatorium: The History of Care in North Reading and the Commonwealth,” Dr. Clarisse A. Poirier of Merrimack College shares that the earliest structures on the property had no walls in order to give patients plenty of fresh air. Canvas curtains would also be set up in colder weather in order to protect patients from the elements. In addition to the open porch design, the North Reading Sanatorium buildings were “lean-to” structures with a central interior sitting room that overlooked a wing of open porches on either side.

The “lean to” design of the North Reading Sanatorium structures. Image from the Tuberculosis hospital and sanatorium construction, written for the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis by Thomas Spees Carrington, 1911.

By 1926, the sanatorium became a facility solely for children with tuberculosis. Adult patients were moved from North Reading to other facilities at Lakeville, Rutland, and Westfield. By 1945, North Reading received children suffering from the rheumatic fever epidemic and in 1958 the facility received children suffering from any chronic diseases.

North Reading, MA State Tuberculosis Sanatorium West Ward, circa 1910 postcard

After the sanatorium closed in 1962, the property became the John T. Berry Rehabilitation Center until 1995. Part of the land was then sold in 2006 to Lincoln Properties and the other half in 2017 to Pulte Homes. From 2005 to 2008, the Public Archaeology Laboratory (PAL) completed archaeological data recovery programs for five ancient Native American sites located on the property. These projects were completed in advance of the business/residential properties that would later take over the 87-acres of land that once held the former North Reading Sanatorium and John T. Berry Rehabilitation Center. Today the site is now the location of the Edgewood Apartments and the Martin’s Landing Condominiums off of Lowell Road.

The John T. Berry Rehabilitation Center (also known as the JT Berry State School) 1962-1995. Photo courtesy of Asylum Projects.

The archaeological investigation yielded more than 14,000 items consisting of chipped and ground stone tools, knapping debris, fire pits, storage and trash pits, and rock clusters. The evidence identified that the site was pre-contact and used by Middle and Late Archaic populations about 8,000 to 3,000 years ago.

The items in the Peabody collection from this site were discovered by a Mr. Margerison and sold to Dr. Warren K. Moorehead by Mr. Margerison’s son before 1940. Perhaps Moorehead’s decision to obtain these items from the North Reading State Sanatorium site stemmed from his own battle with tuberculosis.

Moorehead had been diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1895. A year later he became associated with Robert S. Peabody, curating artifacts from various sites for Peabody’s personal collections. He moved to the east in 1898 to recover from his illness at Peabody’s cabin in Saranac Lake, New York. This was also the location of the Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium at Saranac Lake (also known as the “Cure Cottages”) established in 1884. Perhaps Moorehead spent some time here as well during his recovery.

Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium, Adirondack Mountains, Saranac Lake, NY. Postcard circa 1902-1903. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections.

What many do not know, is what was believed to be the cause of Moorehead’s illness. In 1888, Moorehead was involved in an excavation accident where a wall of earth collapsed on him in the excavation unit, burying him alive. According to an article in the Phillips Academy student newspaper, the Phillipian, Moorehead was paralyzed from the waist down for several days after the accident and he later developed a case of pulmonary tuberculosis as a result.

To learn more about Moorehead’s experience on being buried alive, check out my blog – Buried Alive: A Grave Situation for W.K. Moorehead.

After his accident and development of tuberculosis, Moorehead eventually (with the help of his friend Robert S. Peabody) made his way to New England. By 1901, Moorehead arrived to the newly-founded Department of Archaeology at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA (now the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology), serving as curator, 1901-1924, and Director, 1924-1938 before his death in 1939. A private struggle for life by Moorehead, but none the less an extraordinary rebirth by the time of his curatorship at the Peabody at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Buried Alive: A Grave Situation for W.K. Moorehead

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Example of the sheer size of an earthen wall and the dangers of excavating and tunneling into mounds.
Washout on the wall, west side of new fort, Station 363, Fort Ancient site, Ohio.
Peabody Photo Collections, Plate IX

Originally, I was going to share a blog about tuberculosis and its connection to the Peabody collections, but when this story came up in my research, it was too interesting to set aside to wait another month! For those who are intrigued by how consumption is tied to the Peabody and its collections, you’ll have to wait in anticipation for another month.

I must first give special thanks to the Peabody’s independent researcher, Adam Way, who found this story in an article from the Phillips Academy student newspaper, the Phillipian. This was hours after I asked him to keep his eyes peeled for specific details about Moorehead. What a happy coincidence this find made for my research. Thank you again Adam!

During his excavations in the summer of 1888, Warren K. Moorehead was buried by a cave-in which almost cost him his life. To best share this story, I think it would be best for you to hear some of the story from W.K. Moorehead yourself!

After all, the fall season is upon us and where many believe Moorehead’s spirit lives on within the Peabody’s walls, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time for him to share this near-death experience in his own words. Enjoy!

According to Moorehead’s Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector, 1902, and his written account for the journal, Science, Moorehead was excavating a large mound near Frankfort, Ross County, Ohio in August 1888.

“Here a serious accident befell me… as I bent down to examine a small bone uncovered in the process of undermining, a mass of earth equal to several cartloads suddenly dropped from above.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector (1902)

As Moorehead bent down to examine the bone, the workmen climbed out of the unit to cut down the undermined wall of the mound. As a result, the wall of earth fell upon Moorehead burying him alive.

“The rush of wind it causes I well remember. My head and shoulders were somewhat higher than my legs, possibly a foot. The feet were spread apart. There was little pain, only pressure, intense pressure. It forced the buttons of my light field costume partly inside the flesh; my watch-chain left a bright-red mark along my left side. I could feel the watch strongly pressed against two ribs (these were broken.) The skin over my forehead seemed being cut, but it was the pressure of my hat forcing the flesh between the laced straws. A knife in my pocket seemed burningly hot. Just under the small of my back lay a large clod. The pain at the point of contact was considerable at times, and my spinal column seemed slowly breaking. Then the pain stopped and I could feel nothing.”

– W. K. Moorehead, Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts (1893)

Throughout this entire experience, Moorehead described being unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to even wink. He recounts how hot the earth was against his face as the pressure of the earth forced his last breath. The workmen said it took a minute or more to reach his head.

“I felt the earth move slightly above my head. That gave me hope. I had not thought much of rescue, but I gathered my remaining strength. A shovel passed across the top of my head, cutting the scalp; I remember feeling it as if a hot iron had struck me. Then they uncovered my head and removed the earth from my mouth and eyes.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Ibid.

After he had been removed, he was partially paralyzed for several days. An article in the Phillips Academy student newspaper, The Phillipian, stated that Moorehead was paralyzed for five to six weeks and later, at the order of a spinal expert, he was placed in a straightjacket to put the weight of his upper body on to his hips to relieve his spine.

“I neglected to state that the earth above my head was about three feet thick, that over my legs was much deeper. Many persons buried in gravel pits and in earth not nearly so deep have been taken out dead.” 

– W. K. Moorehead, Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts (1893)

The physical effects were quite severe, but it was the effects of the accident on Moorehead’s mind that remained with him throughout the rest of his life. Dreams of caving banks and recurring memories of the accident haunted Moorehead’s psyche.

“I cannot now enter a mine or cave, or stand near an overhanging bank without a feeling of horror.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector (1902)

The results of this accident continued to echo throughout Moorehead’s later life, affecting his mind and his health. In my next blog these echoes will be revealed.

For more information about this story, please visit the following sources.

Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts, Science Magazine, Vol. ns-21, Issue 522, February 3, 1893

Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector, 1902

The Phillipian: Dr. Moorhead Tells, In Book Of Explorers’ Tales Just Out, How He Was Buried Alive (January 30, 1932)

Behind the Photograph: Traveler in Tweed

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Pipe in mouth and axe in hand, a man in a tweed suit stands in front of a 1940s Dodge “Woody” station wagon brimming with suitcases and archaeological gear. The crates on the ground by his feet are labeled, “F. JOHNSON, PEABODY FNDN, ANDOVER, MASS.” Who is this man and where could he be traveling to?

The year is 1948 and this traveler in tweed is Frederick Johnson, curator of the Peabody (known as the Robert S. Peabody Foundation for Archaeology at the time) from 1936-1968.

Fred Johnson with expedition gear in front of the Peabody, 1948.

Frederick Johnson (1904-1994) joined the Robert S. Peabody Foundation for Archaeology as Curator in 1936. He held this position until 1968, serving one year as Director before retiring in 1969. During his time at the Peabody, Johnson initiated an archaeological excavation program for students at Phillips Academy. He also organized the Committee for the Recovery of Archaeological Remains (1945-1968) and chaired the American Anthropological Association’s Committee on Radioactive Carbon 14 (1948-1968.)

Johnson is recognized for contributing to the development of an interdisciplinary approach to archaeology, using scientists from various fields to study archaeological problems together. The Boylston Street Fish Weir project (1939) in Boston, MA as well as the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition (1944 and 1948) were two examples of this method.

The image of Fred Johnson above was taken before his trip to the Yukon Territory for the last year of the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition. This five-month field project combined archaeological and geobotanical research in the unknown northwestern interior of North America and was carried out jointly by the Peabody and Harvard University (funded by additional sources, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation.)

The journey began from North Dakota to Burwash Landing, Yukon with research in parts of the Shakwak and Dezadeash Valleys in southwestern Yukon. The project leaders were Fred Johnson and Professor Hugh Raup, botanist and Director of the Harvard Forest in Harvard, MA. Two Harvard graduate students served as assistants in the botanical and archaeological research, Bill Drury and Dr. Elmer Harp, Jr.

Harp was a recent Harvard graduate and Curator of Anthropology for the Dartmouth College Museum in Hanover, NH. He documented the trip through field notes and his own photographs. Below is one of Harp’s photographs taken at the beginning of their trip. Do you notice anything similar between these two images? That is the same station wagon in each photograph and yes, that is Fred Johnson with his pipe again! Harp and Drury were tasked with driving the expedition’s station wagon from Boston to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – standard labor assigned to graduate students in the field.

Bill Drury, Fred Johnson, and Elmer Harp at the start of the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition, May 4, 1948. Photograph by Dr. Elmer Harp, Jr., Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.

According to Harp’s recordings from the expedition, Johnson and Raup conducted several projects in the early years of the Yukon project (1943-1944) exploring for evidence of the first appearance of humans in the New World. The 1948 project was to search for archaeological sites along the eastern borders of the Rocky Mountains via the Alcan Highway. This was the first time the highway was opened to civilian traffic since the beginning of WWII. The Andover-Harvard expeditions went on to represent the first systematic explorations of Yukon’s prehistoric past.

Further Readings and Resources

For more information on the Yukon project, see its publication: Investigations in Southwest Yukon, by Fred Johnson, Hugh Raup, and Richard MacNeish, 1964

Explore Elmer Harp, Jr.’s field notes on the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition: North to the Yukon Territory via the Alcan Highway in 1948: Field Notes of The Andover-Harvard Expedition.

For more information on the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition photographs by Fred Johnson check out our blog: Cataloging photographs in our database, and the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition photographs