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Putnam, F.W. (Frederic Ward), (1839-1915). Collection of Negatives, 1887-1888: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University


©2008 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 August 29

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 2004.24 (F)
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Putnam, F.W. (Frederic Ward), (1839-1915). Collection of Negatives,
Date(s): 1887-1888
Creator: Frederic Ward Putnam
Quantity: 14 negatives
Abstract: This collection contains negatives taken by Frederic Ward Putnam during an expedition to the Serpent Mound in Ohio from 1883-1888. The negatives capture camp life, landscapes and burial mounds. This expedition was a result of Professor Putnam's strong encouragement of research involving man's early occupation of the New World.

Processed by:

Staff of 2007-2008 NEH grant; finding aid created by Melissa Gonzales Simmons College intern, 10/2007; edited by India Spartz, Senior Archivist, 2/2008

Acquisition Information:

These negatives are part of the core negative collection at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University and reflect research and field work undertaken by the Peabody Museum sponsored expedition, Excavation and Preservation of the Serpent Mound , Adams County,Ohio, 1887-1900.

Access Restrictions:

Most views are unrestricted except for culturally sensitive images. Permission to view culturally sensitive images may be obtained from the Peabody Museum's curatorial department.

Use Restrictions:

As the negatives have been digitized and are on the Peabody Museum Collections Online website, researchers are encouraged to view the images online at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm .

Biographical Sketch :

Frederic Ward Putnam was born April 16, 1839 in Salem, Massachusetts to Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Putnam III. His family includes a long line of New England families (Putnam, Appleton, Fiske, Ward, and Higginson) some of which date to 1640. In 1864, Putnam married Adelaide Martha Edmands; they had three children: Eben Putnam, Alice Edmands Putnam, and Ethel Appleton Fiske Lewis. On March 10, 1879, Mrs. Adelaide Putnam passed away; in 1882, Putnam remarried Esther Orne Clark.
Professor Putnam's early education consisted of home and private schooling, and it was at this time that he expressed an interest in studying nature. Putnam, along with his father, cultivated plants and later began observing the birds in the area. Later, he trained under Henry Wheatland as an intern at the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1856, at the age of sixteen, he successfully published List of the Birds of Essex County. In that same year, he entered Harvard College where he studied under the tutelage of Professor Louis Agassiz at the Lawrence Scientific School, serving as his assistant from 1857-1864. Putnam also took classes from Asa Gray and Jeffries Wyman, both of whom, along with Agassiz, were highly distinguished natural science scholars.
As a student, and throughout his life, Frederic Ward Putnam continued studying natural history through his scientific investigations of specimens and organisms and while studying under Professor Agassiz, his focus changed from ornithology to ichthyology. Putnam's academic achievements are reflected in his life science contributions and in the leadership roles he assumed in prominent local institutions and organizations such as the following:
In 1873, Professor Putnam was elected to the post of permanent secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a position he held until 1898, at which time he was bestowed with the presidency of the Association. In 1875, Professor Putnam was appointed Curator of Harvard's Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology. With Putnam at the helm, the focus of the Peabody Museum shifted from archaeology to physical anthropology and ethnology, earning the Museum the distinction of becoming the first American museum to specialize in these subject areas. Putnam was appointed professor of anthropology in 1885 (the position was authorized in 1887). In 1876, Putnam directed the first major construction of the Peabody Museum building that currently sits on Divinity Avenue in Cambridge. By 1897, Harvard College officially merged with the Peabody Museum thus acknowledging Putnam's place among the faculty.
In addition to these accomplishments, Professor Putnam helped establish the journals American Naturalist,Science,American Anthropologist, and founded organizations, such as Anthropology of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the American Anthropological Association. He also co-founded the anthropology programs at the American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, and the University of California, Berkeley. At the age of sixty-four, he became the University of California's first Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Anthropological Museum. In 1909, Putnam retired from the University of California and was later appointed Professor Emeritus there. That same year, he became Professor Emeritus at Harvard College and Curator of the Peabody Museum serving as Honorary Director, in 1913.
Professor Frederic W. Putnam's publications number more than 400, and cover the subjects of natural history, archaeology, anthropology, and scientific administration. His archaeological explorations encompass sites in Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, New Jersey, and California. Professor Putnam was deeply involved in various associations, academies, and historical societies throughout the United States and abroad, including Edinburgh, Florence, Lima, London, Paris, and Stockholm. Among many of the awards he received, the French Government bestowed upon him the cross of the Legion of Honor, and the University of Pennsylvania honored him with the Drexel Gold Medal and the degree of Sc. D.
Professor Frederic Ward Putnam, whom Edward Morse called "the father of American archaeology", passed away on August 14, 1915 in Cambridge, Massachusetts leaving behind a venerable and memorable legacy.


Scope and Content Note:

The Frederic W. Putnam's negatives are from his expedition to the Serpent Mound in Ohio from 1883-1888; the original images consist of 4"x5" glass plate negatives. The collection is part of the Peabody Museum's core negative collection, which is being digitized under a National Endowment for the Humanities grant 2007-2008. Images can be viewed at the Peabody Museum's Collections Online website at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm

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