BHA 21(1): Christenson

Who were the Professional North American Archaeologists of 1900? Clues from the Work of Warren K. Moorehead

Andrew L. Christenson

Prescott, Arizona

It is generally agreed that the period around the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries was one when the term ‘professional’ could be applied to a significant number of North American archaeologists (Browman 2002b: 514; Kehoe 1999: 5; Kurtz 1979: 13), even though the term itself rarely appears. In June 1900, Warren K. Moorehead, unemployed and living in a cabin in Saranac Lake, New York, recovering from tuberculosis, had just finished a book on Prehistoric Implements (Moorehead 1900). The book might be said to epitomize the transitional character of the period – focused on the collection and naming of artefacts and written with the help of collectors, amateurs, and professionals, by an archaeologist and artefact dealer. The volume also appears to be the first place where the phrase ‘professional archaeologists’ is used.[1] In the preface, Moorehead writes:

The professional archaeologists of the museums will understand that this book is not for them [footnote: There are 27 men who may be considered scientific archaeologists. There are 23 others connected in various capacities with the museums]. I mention it lest some imagine that I am assuming to instruct those who know a great deal more about prehistoric times than I do. It is from the reports and other publications of these 27 authorities that much of the information presented herein has been obtained.[2]

Moorehead clearly had a list. The reason that he had a list is an indication of how central he was in American archaeology at the time. Some background on Moorehead’s career up to this point is useful (and mostly obtained from Moorehead 1902 and Kelly 2000).

Warren K. Moorehead

His boyhood in Ohio led to an interest in artefact collecting, and an inheritance from his grandfather allowed him to pursue this interest. A couple of years at Denison University (1883–1885) were focused more on extracurricular collecting than studies.[3] His first archaeological publication came when he was eighteen years old, and by the time he was twenty-two (1888) he was arguing for the preservation of Fort Ancient, exhibiting his collection at the Cincinnati Centennial Exposition, hiring Irishmen to dig for him, being buried alive and severely injured in the collapse of a trench, and, most significantly, was invited by Thomas Wilson, Curator of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, to bring his collection to Washington DC to study.[4]

In 1891 Moorehead was hired by Frederic W. Putnam of the Peabody Museum to collect materials from Ohio for the World’s Columbian Exhibition (see Snead n.d. for details of this relationship). The following year he was hired by The Illustrated American to do the same in the Southwest. In 1893 his Ohio connections led to a job with Ohio State University, where he gave the first archaeology lectures, and became curator of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society. That year he was also Secretary of Section H (Anthropology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which he had joined in 1890.

As if he didn’t have enough going on in his life, Moorehead decided to go into the archaeological publishing business. With a printer, he bought The Archaeologist, a magazine less than a year old, and focused on American archaeology for collectors and beginners in archaeology. In 1895, it briefly became an official publication of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society, but Moorehead was forced to sell it the same year. The following year he started The Antiquarian, later renamed The American Archaeologist, with J. F. Snyder as editor, which lasted until 1899 (Elkin 1953: 73–82).[5]

In 1896, he became associated with Robert S. Peabody, a wealthy collector. Having been diagnosed with tuberculosis, the following year he was forced to leave his position in Ohio and seek warmer climes. In New Mexico he made collections for Peabody at Chaco Canyon when the Hyde Expedition was away (Snead n.d.). In Phoenix, Arizona, he reconnoitered for sites to dig on a ‘wheel’ (bicycle). He returned east in 1898 and with the help of Peabody took the cure at Sarnac Lake and completed Prehistoric Implements (Figure 1). In 1901, Peabody created a position for Moorehead in the new Department of Archaeology at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts where he was based until shortly before his death in 1939.

Portrait of Moorehead

Figure 1. Warren K. Moorehead, November 1898. (Frontispiece of Prehistoric Implements)

Although his six years of archaeological publishing were a financial loss, Moorehead’s contacts with collectors and other archaeologists placed him in a position of unique knowledge in the discipline. On the first page of Prehistoric Implements he states:

There are some 5450 persons in the United States and Canada more or less interested in the study of prehistoric archaeology [footnote: According to my card-index. This has been made during the past sixteen years and is supposed to contain the names of nearly all such persons]. Approximately 50 are connected in some capacity with scientific museums. About 500 read publications, belong to societies or are actively engaged in serious study. The remaining 89 per cent. make collections for their own amusement, or pursue irregular studies. Nearly 4500 own collections.

It is unclear why Moorehead would have had a card index of archaeologists in the 1880s, but with acquisition of The Archaeologist in 1893, such a file would have been of inestimable value in tracking down likely subscribers. It may also have been useful in his work as Secretary of Section H. His personal research on artefacts, and his magazine work, led to a clear realization that systematization of artefacts was needed, and Prehistoric Implements was a stage in the process that led him to being appointed to an American Anthropological Association committee on archaeological nomenclature, and resulted in his two volume, The Stone Age in North America (Moorehead 1910). Because of the large quantity of artefacts in private hands, his card index would have assisted in contacting collectors while researching his books.

Who was on Moorehead’s List?

Moorehead’s statements are confusing. There are twenty-seven ‘scientific’ archaeologists and twenty-three more associated with museums – more what? Most of the scholars discussed below were associated with museums so Moorehead’s statement makes no sense.

We should first evaluate whether Moorehead considered himself a professional and a scientist. At the time his book was written, he was unemployed and had no association with a museum. He also had no college degree (he received honorary degrees later in his career). On the other hand he was the principal archaeologist working in Ohio from the late 1880s until the late 1890s, including major work at Fort Ancient and Hopewell, and he stimulated much interest in Ohio archaeology (Morgan and Rodabaugh 1947: 8). He was a prolific writer in a variety of periodicals, owner/editor of two national archaeology magazines, and by 1900 had published three books on Ohio archaeology. I believe he included himself in the group of fifty.

Moorehead was not universally respected.[6] In a review of Prehistoric Implements, Charles F. Lummis described him as a ‘“good fellow” of newspapery bent’ who had done ‘very fruitful excavation of Ohio mounds’, but also he had led a ‘radically unscientific “expedition” to the Southwest’ (Lummis 1901a: 299). Although we have to take with a grain of salt Lummis’ judgment that tended to denigrate Easterners, he was probably close to the truth in his assessment of the Illustrated American Exploring Expedition’s scientific value. In an answer to Moorehead’s response to his critical review, Lummis replies that:

[Moorehead] uses ‘science’ somewhat ‘as she is spoke’ – and as she is not meant to be spoke in these pages. ‘Scientist’ is reserved here, not for those who besiege scientific subjects, but for the very few who can administer the province after they have captured it. If Mr. Moorehead has realized how stingily the word is used here, he is too modest and too honest to complain that he is not included. There are hundreds of earnest and worthy students of archaeology and ethnology in the United States; but there are not over six scientists in both lines. And neither Mr. Moorehead nor I can hope to swell the number. We are merely students, more or less.

Well, that put Moorehead in his place! We can presume that Lummis’ drastically shorter list of scientific archaeologists probably included several of the government archaeologists but he also specifically mentions Adolph Bandelier (Lummis 1901b: 221). He was probably following J. W. Powell’s vision of a two-tiered scientific establishment with many data gatherers, but only a few synthesizers (Hinsley 1976: 40–41).

In trying to reconstruct Moorehead’s list we are helped by his statement that many of the twenty-seven scientific archaeologists were sources for information in the book. However, there are many people mentioned in the book and Moorehead does not provide his criteria for professional or scientist. The dictionary definition of professional was the same then as it is now – ‘a person who practices an art, occupation, or sport for a living, as distinguished from one who engages in them merely for pleasure’ (Hunter and Morris 1894: 3765). We should not place too much emphasis upon the distinction of working for a living, or for pleasure, because there were archaeologists who were wealthy enough to not need to work and ones who did not have steady employment in the field.

My first step was to evaluate the people mentioned in the book using several criteria.[7] Clearly anyone employed in archaeology by a museum or university would be on the list. Affiliation with a museum, without certain information of income source, would also merit consideration. Being actively engaged in research and publishing clearly is an important criterion that would allow inclusion of independently wealthy or self-employed scholars, but would also include some of Moorehead’s ‘500’. Active involvement with scientific societies is a clue that, when combined with criteria above, would make a good case for inclusion on the list. Techniques and problem orientation have been suggested as a critical criterion for evaluating archaeological work (Bennett 1942: 122), although at the time we are considering there was a fairly wide range of recording and excavation techniques being used on a fairly narrow range of problems, with a few archaeologists on the cutting edge, but most well back of it.

Moorehead’s book focuses on American and Canadian archaeology but he does mention one American archaeologist who had moved on to work in South America – A. F. Bandelier. There are several other American scholars who were working in Central or South America – Uhle, Gordon, and Thompson – who I include. Not included are American archaeologists working in the Old World (e.g., George Grant MacCurdy, James H. Breasted, and Robert F. Harper), European archaeologists like Teobert Maler working in Mexico, or indigenous South American archaeologists like Juan B. Ambrosetti.

Did Moorehead include pothunters, collectors, or dealers on his list? I would tend to follow Wissler (1929: 45, 48) that ‘collecting is but a manifestation of a deep, spontaneous human interest... to learn by dealing first hand with things’. All museum archaeologists were paid to collect artefacts, often only whole pots or artefacts, and their good standing with their bosses was often threatened if they did not literally ‘come up with the goods’.[8]

The issue of dealing in artefacts was not as sensitive an issue in 1900 as it would become later in the following century. Buying and trading artefacts was a universal practice among museums and it was certainly a common practice among archaeologists who had personal collections. Most archaeological journals of the day, including American Anthropologist, carried artefact dealers’ advertisements. Because of declining subscriptions, Moorehead had to increase the size of his ‘Collector’s Corner’ in The American Archaeologist much to the dismay of his editor J. F. Snyder, who felt that it took away space for scientific articles (Elkin 1953: 79). Moorehead dealt in artefacts and his ads in The Archaeologist were common (Milanich 2001), although his only ad in The American Archaeologist was for trading.

Table 1. North American Archaeologists of 1900

Name

Dates

Affiliation

Residence

College Education

AAA Invitee (I), Founding Member[1] (F) or
AA pub 1899–1901 (p)

AAAS 1900 Fellow (F); Secretary (S+yr.)

Listed in Haynes (H) or
Peabody (P)

AMS Listed (L);
Starred (S)

A. Professionals Associated with Museums

 

 

 

 

 

*Bandelier, A. F.

1840–1914

AMNH

Bolivia

none

 

 

H,P

S

**Beauchamp, W. M.

1830–1925

NYSM; retired minister

NY

Delancy Divinity School

 

S(89,92)

H,P

L

*Boyle, David

1842–1911

Ontario Provincial Mus.

Canada

teaching certificate

F, p

 

 

 

*Cushing, Frank H.

1857–1900

BAE

DC

none

p

 

H,P

 

*Dorsey, George A.

1868–1931

Field Museum

IL

Harvard PhD anthro.

I, F, p

F

H

S

*Fewkes, J. Walter

1850–1930

Smithsonian

DC

Harvard PhD zoology

I, F, p

M

H,P

S

Gordon, George B.

1870–1927

Peabody

Mexico

Harvard

 

 

H,P

 

*Hodge, F. W.

1864–1956

Smithsonian

DC

Columbian

I, F, p

 

P

S

*Holmes, W. H.

1846–1933

USNM

DC

McNeely Normal BS

I, F, p

S(91)

H,P

S

*Hough, Walter

1859–1935

USNM asst. cur.

DC

WVU PhD

I, F, p

F

 

 

*McGee, W. J.

1853–1912

BAE, ethnologist

DC

none

I, F, p

F

 

S

*McGuire, J. D.

1842–1916

USNM volunteer

DC

none

I, F, p

 

 

L

**Mills, W. C.

1860–1928

Ohio State HS

OH

Ohio State BA

F

 

 

L

Owen, Charles L.

1861–1927

Field Museum

IL

Denison BA

I, F

 

 

L

*Pepper, George H.

1873–1924

AMNH/Hyde Explor. Exped.

NY

understudy of Putnam

F

F

H

L

**Putnam, F. W.

1839–1915

Harvard; AMNH

MA/NY

Harvard (no degree)

I, F

F

H

S

*Saville, Marshall H.

1867–1935

AMNH

NY

Harvard (no degree)

I, F, p

S(98);F

H,P

L

**Smith, Harlan I.

1872–1940

AMNH

NY

Michigan BA

I, F, p

F

H

 

Thompson, Edward H.

1857–1935

Peabody

Mexico

none

 

 

H,P

 

**Thomas, Cyrus

1825–1910

BAE

DC

law

I, p

 

H

S

Uhle, Max

1856–1944

UC Berkeley

CA/Peru

Leipzig PhD

 

 

 

L

*Willoughby, Charles C.

1857–1943

Peabody

MA

none

F, p

F

H

L

**Wilson, Thomas

1832–1902

USNM

DC

law

p

F

P

 

B. Independent Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

*Abbott, C. C.

1843–1919

none

NJ

Pennsylvania MD

 

S(87)

H

L

*Fowke, Gerard

1855–1933

independent

OH?

none

p

 

H,P

L

**Lewis, T. H.

1856–ca.1909

publishing co., St. Paul

MN

 

p

 

 

L

**Mercer, H. C.

1856–1930

potter; independently wealthy

PA

 

 

F

H

 

*Moore, Clarence B.

1852–1936

independently wealthy; associated Phila. Acad. Nat. Sci.

PA

Harvard BA

F

F

H,P

S

*Moorehead, Warren K.

1866–1939

independent collector

NY

Denison (no degree)

I, F

S(93)F

H

L

C. Possible Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

Bowditch, Charles P.

1842–1921

Peabody; patron

MA

Harvard MA

I, F, p

F

H

L

**Brown, Charles E.

1872–1946

Milwaukee Pub. Mus., entomologist

WI

self-taught

F

 

 

 

Nuttall, Zelia M. M.

1857–1933

Peabody; independently wealthy

Europe?

none

F

 

 

L

*Peet, Stephen D.

1831–1914

reverend, editor - American Antiquarian.

IL

Andover Theological Sem.

 

F

 

L

Phillips, W. A.

 

Field Museum

IL

 

F, p

?

 

 

Volk, Ernest

1845–1919

Peabody

NJ

none

 

 

 

L

**Wetherill, Richard

1856–1910

rancher

NM

none

 

 

 

 

D. Geologists Involved in Archaeology

 

 

 

 

 

**Perkins, George H.

1844–1933

Vermont State Geol.

VT

Yale PhD

F

S(83-84,96); F

 

L

*Upham, Warren

1950–1934

geologist under Winchell

MN

Dartmouth BA

 

 

 

L

*Winchell, N. H.

1839–1914

MN State geologist

MN

Michigan MA

F

F

 

L

*Wright, G. Frederick

1838–1921

Oberlin, Prof. of the Harmony of Science & Revelation

OH

Brown DD

F

F

 

 

1 40 individuals were invited to the founding meeting of the AAA; they are listed in McGee (1903: 183); the actual list of founding members is much larger (see McGee 1903: 191-192)

* people mentioned in Moorehead (1900);

** people listed in preface or author of chapter.

The co-authors of Prehistoric Implements were mostly amateurs. Moorehead wrote the sections on Ohio, the Southwest, the Mississippi and Missouri valleys, and the more general discussions. The only other contributors who were professionals were T. H. Lewis, who covered Minnesota, and possibly George H. Perkins, a Vermont geologist, who wrote on New Hampshire. The other authors, such as A. F. Berlin and Roland Steiner would have fallen into Moorehead’s active, but not professional, archaeologists.

Table 1 is my list, based primarily upon Moorehead, but secondarily upon my own evaluation of archaeologists active at the time. Two stars (**) in front of a name indicates archaeologists mentioned in the preface, or who are authors of sections of the book, and one star (*) indicates archaeologists mentioned in the text. Mentioned in the book are nineteen museum-associated and two university-associated archaeologists who I think were on the list (Section A). They include, by city, the Washington DC government archaeologists (Cushing,[9] Fewkes, Hodge, Holmes, Hough, McGee, McGuire, Thomas, and Wilson), the Cambridge, Mass./New York City group of Putnam’s (Bandelier, Pepper, Putnam, Saville, Smith, and Willoughby), Dorsey in Chicago, Beauchamp in Albany, Boyle in Toronto, and Mills in Columbus. To this list I would add Charles L. Owen who worked for the Field Museum, Max Uhle who worked for the University of California in Peru, and George B. Gordon and Edward H. Thompson, who worked for the Peabody Museum in Mexico. The latter two archaeologists were definitely known to Moorehead because their monographs were reviewed in The American Archaeologist.

A group of significant archaeologists were independent scholars who were either wealthy, moved from project to project without an institutional base, or held other employment to support themselves (Table 1, Section B). In the latter category was C. C. Abbott, who at this point made a living by writing and who listed literature as his occupation in the 1900 census.[10] After the issue of the Moundbuilders in research importance, American archaeology in the 1880s and 1890s focused upon his claims of Palaeolithic man in North America.

Illustration of Volk and Abbot exploring for relics

Figure 2. From History of Trenton, 1679–1929, Two Hundred and Fifty Years of a Notable Town with Links in Four Centuries. Trention Historical Society, 1929.

Gerard Fowke, supported himself by taking positions in archaeological projects, and Theodore H. Lewis was the first long-term consulting archaeologist in the U. S. A. (Finney 2001: 17), recording 19,000 sites for Alfred J. Hill between 1876 and 1891 at $3.00 per day. Although he was working for a publishing firm at this point, he was the only person in Table 1, that I have found in the 1900 census, to list himself as an archaeologist.[11] As indicated above, Moorehead was under the employ of R. S. Peabody when he was well enough and so he was also a consulting archaeologist.[12]

H. C. Mercer had been closely involved in various archaeological studies in the east-central U. S., although in 1897 he resigned his curatorship at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and became a craftsman (Dyke 1989: 48–49).[13] Clarence B. Moore had is own research program on the waterways of the Southeast. He had received a little training from Frederic Putnam, but pretty much went his own way in the field. He has been called an ‘ardent’ and ‘dedicated’ amateur in one recent review of his work (Brose and White 1999: 2, 3) and a ‘professional archaeological’ investigator in another (Larson 1998). As noted below, he was one of the nine ‘starred’ archaeologists in ranking done in 1903. I believe that he would have been on Moorehead’s list.

The first twenty-nine individuals in Table 1 (sections A and B) are likely to be scientific/professional archaeologists, twenty-five of whom would have probably been on Moorehead’s list. That leaves twenty-five people that we need to determine. Examination of the list of founding members of the American Anthropological Association and fellows of the AAAS helped add a few possibles, as did review of who was publishing in American Anthropologist, American Archaeologist, and other archaeological periodicals.

Of great use in confirming membership on the list, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), a major national scholarly organization focused mostly on the Mediterranean area, published two reviews of American archaeology – one for the period 1889 to 1899 by Henry W. Haynes (1900) and another covering work between 1900 and 1905 by Charles Peabody (1905). Twenty-one of the twenty-nine archaeologists on the definite part of the list (sections A–B) were mentioned in these reviews.

Finally, in 1903, psychologist J. McKeen Cattell, editor of Science, asked ten individuals from each of twelve sciences to rank the men in their fields. From these data, he determined the 1000 leading American scientists and in the resulting biographical directory, American Men of Science (published 1906), these individuals were ‘starred’. Of the twenty anthropologists starred in this first edition, nine were archaeologists – Bandelier, Dorsey, Fewkes, Hodge, Holmes, McGee, Moore, Putnam, and Thomas (Visher 1947: 115). In addition to these starred people, noted by an ‘S’ in the last column of Table 1, archaeologists who were members of selected societies such as the AAAS, and who chose to submit a biography for inclusion in the volume, are indicated by an ‘L’ in the table.[14]

On the basis of a variety of criteria, I added seven possible professionals (section C), four of whom are listed in Moorehead’s book, and three professional geologists who had a strong interest in and involvement with archaeology (section D), all of whom are in Moorehead’s book. Among these scholars are Charles P. Bowditch, a Maya scholar and patron of archaeology associated with the Peabody Museum, and Zelia Nuttall, the only woman on the list, also associated with the Peabody Museum.

A couple of archaeologists in Section D require some comment. Stephen D. Peet was a prolific writer on the Moundbuilders and Ohio archaeology in his important periodical American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, and later took up the Cliff Dwellers as an interest. His original work in the field was minimal and he calls himself an editor in the 1900 census.

Group portrait

Figure 3. Pueblo Bonito 1896. Left to right: Clayton Wetherill (archaeologist), Orian (Oscar) Buck (freighter), Walter Granger (paleontologist), Jacob Wortman (paleontologist), George Pepper, Barnum Brown (paleontologist), Richard Wetherill (white shirt), Henry Snyder (paleontologist). From Walter Granger, 1872–1941, Paleontologist, by V. L. Morgan and S. G. Lucas. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 19, 2002.

Richard Wetherill is an interesting case because in the 1890s he was doing high-quality excavation work in the Southwest (Browman and Givens 1996: 92n1; Hurst and Turner 1993; McNitt 1966: 64–72). By 1900 he was pretty much focused on livestock for a living at Chaco Canyon. His only two archaeological publications (letters to the editor) came out in Moorehead’s magazines.[15] It is notable that Wetherill is the only archaeologist in Table 1 who lived permanently in the West, although Max Uhle was in California when he wasn’t in Peru. A western scholar not in Table 1, Edgar L. Hewett, was just beginning his interest in archaeology and would move from New Mexico to Washington DC in 1903 to lobby for legal protection of ruins on Federal lands.[16]

The Appendix lists some of the more prominent people considered for Table 1 but rejected. A few comments on this list are in order. J. F. Snyder was an M.D., not active in fieldwork at this time, but probably the most knowledgeable person on Illinois archaeology and a long-term correspondent of the Smithsonian Institution.[17] Although they never met, he was chosen by Moorehead to edit the Antiquarian/American Archaeologist. J. W. Powell had a strong interest in archaeology from an early age and, although not an archaeologist, had an important impact on the early development of professional archaeology. Interestingly, towards the end of his life, he was investigating shell heaps in Maine with Frank Cushing at the time that Cushing died (Phillips 1973: xiv).

Even by expanding beyond the people mentioned in his book, I have not come up with a list of fifty individuals who are good candidates as professional/scientific archaeologists. Of course, no two archaeologists of 1900 would come up with the same list of scientific or professional archaeologists that Moorehead made because ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ were yet little used and boundaries such as these were only just in the making. The exact membership of Moorehead’s list is not as critical as having a core group that we can be pretty sure of to assess the character of the profession at this early stage.

The Process of Professionalization – Formal Training

Jeffries Wyman, trained as an M.D. but working as a biologist, was probably the first person in the U.S. paid for any length of time to pursue archaeology – appointed Curator of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology in 1866 for which he was paid $500 per year beginning in 1869.[18] In Canada, beginning in 1888, David Boyle, trained as an educator, was paid $400 a year to do archaeological field and curatorial work (Killian 1998: 21).[19] Thus, there were professional archaeologists before archaeology was a profession. The Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) was founded in 1879, and this event has been seen by some as the beginning of professional anthropology (Darnell 1971: 89). What the Peabody Museum and the BAE did was create an institutional framework within which scholars could do scientific work.

Briefly, shared expertise is one of the critical parts of professionalizing (Bruce 1987: 151; Darnell 1971: 88). Scholars share by working together, as did F. W. Putnam with people such as Abbott and Metz and Thomas Wilson with Moorehead, by attending meetings, and by reading the same publications. The result of this shared expertise is a discipline with an agreed set of problems, methods, and goals (Farber 1997: 77). When ‘the production of knowledge and the production of producers are united into the same structure’ (Larson 1977: 17), and there is paid employment, then a profession exists.

Prior to formal academic training, learning in archaeology was pretty much on-the-job. Wyman had a training process using what Hinsley (1992: 123, 127) calls ‘fieldworker-correspondence students’ like C. C. Abbott, who worked industriously in New Jersey gathering artefacts from deposits he felt represented an American Palaeolithic period. Wyman’s successor, Putnam, continued that method and by 1881 had volunteer ‘students’ working for him, one of whom, W. B. Nickerson made important contributions to mid-western archaeology years later (Bennett 1942; Browman 2002a: 252–257).

Archaeological guidance for most Americans interested in archaeology came from circulars and lectures. Thomas Wilson of the National Museum, following in the steps of Gibbs (1862), produced a circular for distribution to, as he put it, ‘the farmer, the labourer, and the wayfaring man’ outlining how to record and excavate sites, including detailed recording of stratigraphy (Wilson 1888). F. W. Putnam was one of the first archaeologists to emphasize the importance of excavation methods to his field workers, lecture audiences, and eventually his students (Browman 2002a: 246–250), but it would be the following century before controlled excavation was the norm and techniques like stratigraphic excavation would become part of the archaeological field repertoire (Browman and Givens 1996).

Statements on goals at this early period are broad ranging, from Wilson’s philosophical (1888: 2):

There is no worthier or more interesting subject to engage the attention of mankind than the >study of man in that high antiquity which we are now considering and which forms the new science of Prehistoric Anthropology,

to McGee and Thomas’ (1905: 26) modern sounding:

The condition of the native population at the discovery by Europeans is … a result of the evolutionary processes of the past and forms the beacon light that must guide investigators of America’s prehistoric age in reference, especially, to the character of those processes, and the lines along which they have acted.

The inclusion of archaeology within anthropology indicated in the Wilson quote and the strong evolutionary focus of McGee and Thomas comes from their long-term association with J. W. Powell (Darnell 1971: 94). BAE anthropologists were scientists first and anthropologists or geologists or archaeologists as circumstances arose (Hinsley 1976: 44; Meltzer 1985: 251).

Although both quotes suggest that the study of change through time might be an appropriate goal for archaeology, by 1897 the formal debate on an American Palaeolithic was over, with government archaeologists being the ‘winners’ by some definition (Meltzer 1985: 255). But many archaeologists were dubious of the BAE methods (and conclusions) and there were others already documenting that American archaeology had time depth (Pepper 1902; Prudden 1897).[20] It would be over a decade before the development of cultural sequences became a focus of archaeological research (Lyman et al. 1997: Chapter 3).

In 1890, George A. Dorsey, who had gone to school with Moorehead at Denison, and John G. Owens became F. W. Putnam’s first graduate students at Harvard (Hinsley 1999: 149; Putnam 1890). In 1894, Dorsey obtained the first doctorate with speciality in archaeology.[21] In that same year, other colleges had courses in archaeology including the University of Chicago (Starr) and the University of Pennsylvania (Brinton), and the names Fewkes, Moorehead, and Wilson are mentioned in regard to courses or lectures elsewhere (Dorsey 1894: 369–371). If one were forced to pick a year when archaeology had two critical attributes of a profession – institutions and formal instruction – and a PhD, then 1894 is the choice.

The Process of Professionalization – Publications and Organizations

A look at where archaeological articles were published on the eastern seaboard in the two decades between 1881 and 1900 (from Rouse and Goggin 1947) shows the most important, in order of importance, were Science, Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal, American Naturalist, Smithsonian Institution Annual Report, and American Anthropologist. Three of these are associated with organizations – Science and the Proceedings with the AAAS, American Naturalist with the American Society of Naturalists, and American Anthropologist with the Anthropological Society of Washington. The American Antiquarian was a private journal run by Stephen D. Peet. Four of these periodicals were based on the east coast and the American Antiquarian was published in Chicago.

The publication pattern for the Midwest in this period was rather different with American Antiquarian having nearly one-quarter of all articles, followed by The Archaeologist, the Smithsonian Institution Annual Report, the Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report, and the Proceedings of the AAAS (from Bennett 1984; Michael 1969; Morgan and Rodabaugh 1947). Publications of this period focused on Moundbuilder issues and a single author, Stephen D. Peet, accounting for about 20% of all the articles on Ohio archaeology (Morgan and Rodabaugh 1947). Dominated by what Stocking (1976: 10) calls ‘[r]everends and middle-western citizen-archeologists’, midwestern scholars chose neither Science nor American Anthropologist for publication, probably because they felt more comfortable using and more welcome in, regional journals. More detailed study needs to be done on the question of regionalization of archaeological publishing. Of course, all articles are not equal and a citation study would help evaluate how the publication pattern for ‘important’ articles differed from that indicated above.

With F. W. Putnam as its permanent secretary, the AAAS was clearly a major organizing group for archaeologists (Snead and Sabloff 2010: 30–33 review the situation with American archaeological societies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). In 1882, the association was organized into sections, with Section H being anthropology. By the late 1890s, Section H basically served as the national anthropology organization (Browman 2002b: 513). The Anthropological Society of Washington was run by government anthropologists, and its journal American Anthropologist was a major place for publishing archaeological studies (Hinsley 1976: 39–40). Money problems led to Section H taking over control of the journal in 1898 and it became the national anthropological periodical at a time when a strong interest in a national anthropological society was also developing. As might be expected, development of such an organization brought to fore the regional anthropological politics of the day with a New York group of Boas, Putnam, and Dorsey and a Washington DC group of McGee, Fewkes, and McGuire (Browman 2002b: 513). Boas wanted a rigidly exclusive organization of forty scholars or less (Stocking 1960: 2). Selection of these people began with a list of sixty compiled by McGee that was then amended and shortened to forty by the New York group. The list has about 50% archaeologists and includes many people in the early sections of Table 1 (noted with an ‘I’ in the 7th column). By the time the group was formally created in 1902 as the second American Anthropological Association (AAA), with the American Anthropologist as its journal, anyone who paid dues during initial enrolment became a founding member.22 Of eight men elected as officers of the association, five – McGee, Putnam, Holmes, Dorsey, and Hodge – are listed as professional museum archaeologists in Table 1 (McGee 1903: 185–186).

The existence of a society and a journal with strong professional support had a major effect upon archaeological publishing. Between 1901 and 1920 American Anthropologist was the largest publisher of archaeological studies on the eastern seaboard. Only the publications of the New York State Museum were close (Rouse and Goggin 1947). In this region of the U. S., the focus of archaeological publishing shifted from the AAAS, government series, and the important private periodical, American Antiquarian, to the AAA.23 An editorial in 1900 by the American Antiquarian’s editor Stephen D. Peet, noted that over the last few years the journal had lost both contributions and subscriptions from the Washington anthropologists to the American Anthropologist (Peet 1900: 194–195). Ironically, Peet was one of the major promoters of the first American Anthropological Association in 1876. Based upon this early, failed attempt to create a national organization, he began the American Antiquarian Journal as the first U. S. anthropological journal (soon after, ‘and Oriental’ was added to the name). It was a platform for his armchair archaeological theories but also attracted a range of important scholars as subscribers and contributors (Stocking 1976: 10).

In the Midwest, except for one exception, publication in national (i.e., Eastern) journals virtually ceased, with the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, the Archaeological Bulletin, Records of the Past, the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, and the American Antiquarian becoming the principal outlets for archaeological publications. The Archaeological Bulletin was published by the International Society of Archaeologists, mostly mid-westerners, an early national organization of amateurs (1910–1917).24 Records of the Past, a Washington-based, large format magazine of Reverend Henry Mason Baum was able to partly take over the American Antiquarian’s lost leadership as a national popular archaeological journal (1902–1914).

The Process of Professionalization – Specialized Terminology

An interesting question that cannot be answered here in detail is the extent to which a specialized terminology (jargon) had developed in the field by 1900. Terminology develops to describe new phenomena but can also be used to separate insiders from outsiders (Allen 1976: 164; Daniels 1967: 152; Nakayama 1984: 143). Going back to Squier and Davis’ (1848) work, considered by many to be the first scientific archaeological report in the U. S. (Hinsley 1981: 36–37), we find terms for mounds – conical, pyramidal, effigy, temple, sepulture, Teocalli-shaped; terms for other features – altar, aguada, incremation, niche, chunk yard, cairns, cist, stone-heap, pottery kiln; terms for artefacts – copper plate, bone skewer, censer, gorget, tempering, barbed point; and terms for various other phenomena – archaeologist, system (of mounds), stratum/stratification, primary deposit, disturbance, analogy, mound-builders. It does not appear that any of these were introduced by the authors, and most appear to be borrowed from previous archaeological uses, or from general usage. It also seems unlikely that readers of that monograph would be stumped by any of these terms although they might have encountered a term used in a way different from what they were familiar.

Glancing forward into institutional publications of the 1870s and 1880s, such as the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, and Peabody Museum annual reports we see more foreign terms appearing – midden, in situ, petroglyph, Estufa, mano, metate. Perhaps this is an indication of a developing specialized terminology. Although we should not point fingers, W. H. Holmes could win an award for obfuscation with use of pulverulence (powdery) as well such terms as imbricate, oblate spheroid, cinerary, and adventition that must have sent even the well-read reaching for their dictionary (Holmes 1886a, 1886b). This writing style, on the ‘edge of incomprehensibility’ (Daniels 1967: 152), fits with Holmes’ desire to distance himself from laypeople (Fernlund 2000: 136), an attitude that does not seem to have been true of government archaeologists in general.

With the existence of a professional organization and journal, the standardization of terminology could become a goal. One of the tasks suggested for the fairly new AAA was to create a committee to develop a naming system for specimens (the new term ‘artefact’ was one for which authority was needed to approve or condemn) (Peabody and Moorehead 1905). The committee produced a report with definitions for terms to describe the formal properties of clay and stone specimens (Peabody 1909). They specifically avoided non-English words and used terms that were ‘perfectly clear in denotation at home and abroad’, taking a different tack than Holmes.

Naming of cultures was in its infancy at this point with generic terms such as Moundbuilders and Cliff Dwellers in common use, and more specific terms, such as Fewkes’ Tusayan, being used for what would later become Kayenta Anasazi, and Richard Wetherill’s Basket Maker, a term that is still used. Shortly after the turn of the century, Fort Ancient, Hopewell, and Glacial Kame were introduced for names of cultures in the Midwest, where they remain in use today.

Projectile point types were descriptive at this time and formal naming of types with a site or locality name would not really take off until the 1920s. Names and naming, as with terminology in general, is a research area that has not been taken up by historians of archaeology, although it represents a vast field where insight into professional vs. amateur naming traditions, archaeo-politics, and other issues can be gained.

Conclusions

No detailed prosopography is possible with the limited information gathered on the scholars in Table 1, but some general conclusions are possible. A college degree, or even attendance, was not necessary to be considered a ‘professional’ archaeologist. Many of the scholars in Table 1 came of age in the 1870s, when college was still generally restricted to well-to-do males. However, fieldwork opportunities for bright young men permitted a few, like Cushing and Moorehead, to move quickly into archaeology as vocation and, sometimes, profession. Other, generally older men such as Boyle and Holmes, came to archaeology circuitously – through teaching or art.

Photo of Gordon and Putnam

Figure 4. George B. Gordon and F. W. Putnam. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard.

Although neither completed college, Frederic Putnam became the father of American archaeology and Warren Moorehead became ‘Dean’ of American archaeology through self-training, personal ability, and personal contacts, not too different from modern archaeologists except for the strong focus today on degrees. Moorehead (1904: 116–117) gives this scenario for development of an artefact collector into a professional archaeologist:

Imagine a beginning collector or one who has spent some time in gathering specimens. If this young man wishes to accomplish something of real worth in the world, let him fit himself through a liberal college education, followed by a two or three years course in some museum. Then he is prepared to occupy a dignified position in his chosen profession.

Moorehead is more or less describing his own training, but Putnam had a more formal idea of the track to become a professional archaeologist that involved study towards either a Masters or PhD (Putnam 1890: 98–99; courses opened to undergraduates in the mid-90s), with the graduate degree perhaps being seen as a way of certification (i.e., credentials) (Reingold 1976: 47). His plans to train professionals, however, were slow to come at Harvard, and slower to develop beyond Harvard. Many archaeologists would of necessity follow Moorehead’s less rigorous route. Although degrees in anthropology increased substantially after the turn of the twentieth century, most of these scholars were cultural anthropologists (Darnell 1969: Appendix III). There were eleven PhDs after Dorsey between 1898 and 1925 with special focus on archaeology or the physical anthropology of archaeological remains, all but two from Harvard. However, there was nothing like a requirement for leaders in the field to have a PhD or even an M.A. Southwestern archaeologist Watson Smith, mulling over the issue of amateur and professional for the period when he began in archaeology in the late 1920s and 1930s (without any formal training in the field), observed that if having a PhD with a speciality in archaeology were a defining criteria for a professional, then many of the people he worked with would not qualify.[25] Smith suggested the term paraprofessional for people working in archaeology who did not have such a degree, even those with a PhD from other disciplines (Smith 1984: 367). Of course, using that criterion in 1900, only George Dorsey would have been a professional.

The strong midwestern origin of professional archaeologists, noted for government anthropologists in general (Hinsley 1976: 42), is evident in Table 1. In addition to the scholars living in the Midwest in 1900, people like Bandelier (born Switzerland; raised Illinois), Dorsey (Ohio), Holmes (Ohio), McGee (Iowa), Smith (Michigan), Thomas (Illinois), and of course Moorehead (born Italy, raised Ohio) had left the region to work in the East. To what extent a midwestern origin made these archaeologists significantly different from their eastern-raised colleagues needs to be investigated.

Kohlstedt (1976: 173, 186) argues that in natural history, as a professional track of education, employment, and publication developed, the amateur tradition collapsed. In archaeology, this was not true (contra McKusick 1975: 43)[26] and the growth in professional archaeology was matched by a much larger universe of amateur archaeology. As quoted above, Moorehead thought that in addition to his fifty professional archaeologists there were about five hundred people serious about archaeology that read, and often wrote articles for, journals and kept up with current research. This one to ten ratio is identical to that of membership in the Society for American Archaeology to membership of avocational archaeological organizations towards the end of the twentieth century (Frison 1984: 185).

Archaeology is a very different science/profession to those of, for example, astronomy or biology, because private individuals can own significant data.[27] Cutting themselves away from amateurs has in some cases lost archaeologists access to important insights into the past (cf. Nickerson 1962). The professionalization process that began in this era of the late nineteenth century in part led to the problems that professionals have struggled with or ignored ever since.

Amateurs/avocationals were, and are not, just passive receivers of professional wisdom, but active generators of knowledge and insight into the archaeological record. Historical significance in histories of twentieth century archaeology has been judged by professional research (see Goldstein 1994: 592) and nonprofessional archaeology is pretty much invisible, resulting in incomplete and incorrect histories of archaeology (e.g., Cordell and Fowler 2005; Willey and Sabloff 1993). As Griffiths (1996: 1) emphasizes in his study of ‘antiquarians’ in nineteenth century Australia, ‘[h]istory is the fruit of both popular and learned understandings’. There are abundant examples of amateurs being leaders in regional archaeological research but having difficulty getting professionals to take their work seriously (Christenson 2003, 2005; Helgevold 1981: 26–27, 35–36; Wilcox 1987). Unfortunately, the process of professionalization usually intentionally, but sometimes unintentionally, served to separate two groups with similar, though not identical, goals and interests, with the ‘independent local investigator’ often being ‘pushed to the wall’ to use Wright’s (1910: 80) words.

One interpretation of what was happening is that scholars like Holmes and Putnam faced the need to assert intellectual control over the definition of research questions and how they were to be answered in a situation where the boundaries of the field were porous (Mulkay 1972: 16–17; cited by Hinsley 1985: 69). Both had to grapple with the two grand problems of nineteenth century American archaeology – the Moundbuilders and the Palaeolithic in America – problems not of their making, and ones that they would liked to have had more control over. This is an issue of autonomy, a necessary characteristic of a profession, according to some historians of science (see citations in Kehoe 1999: 4). Perhaps Holmes’ way of asserting some control in this situation was to create barriers with technical language, while Putnam tried, unsuccessfully, to create an exclusive professional organization (he was one of the supporters of an American Anthropological Association with forty select members). Such efforts were doomed at this time because the small size of the professional community, however delimited, could not support exclusive journals or societies. It would be a slow process through the first half of the twentieth century for archaeology to develop a more inaccessible language, a more well defined track into the profession, and more exclusive organizations. How that process happened, and how amateur archaeology evolved sometimes in tandem, but often not, is a complex story that remains to be told.

Acknowledgements

I thank David L. Browman for crucial suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper. James E. Snead provided a draft of his paper on archaeology done for the Columbian Exposition and also provided useful comments on a draft of this paper. Curtis M. Hinsley and David R. Wilcox helped with some stylistic issues and with the contents of Table 1.

Notes

1 The term ‘amateur’ when referring to archaeologists is fairly rare prior to the early 20th century. Wilson (1888: 5) in describing the excavation of mounds, mentions photographs ‘popular among amateurs’ as being useful. Peet (1893: 386) refers to amateur collectors in distinction to ‘specialists’, and gives the Wetherills and Edward Ayres as good examples.

2 Moorehead’s criteria must have gotten narrower through time. In a letter to J. F. Snyder in 1894 he said that there were ‘two hundred men who are really scientific archaeologists’ (Elkin 1953: 75). Moorehead used the term professional only once in Prehistoric Implements, but he used the term Professor when referring to many individuals – Holmes, Lewis, Perkins, Putnam, McGee, Mills, Mercer, Hodge, Cushing, McGuire, Smith, Fowke, and Fewkes. The term would normally be used for teachers at the university level, which would only fit Putnam, but it was also an honorific at this time. I suggest that Moorehead was equating Professor and professional.

3 He apparently attended the University of Pennsylvania at some point as well.

4 His incessant, not well-focused activities, also led him to the Sioux Reservation as a journalist, from which he was removed by the military the day before the massacre at Wounded Knee. His long-term criticism of government treatment of the Indians ultimately led to appointment to the Board of Indian Commissioners by Theodore Roosevelt.

5 Publisher Clinton Hollenbeck had some financial involvement in this magazine, but Moorehead was subsidizing a portion of the costs (Elkin 1953: 80). Moorehead had to hide his involvement in The Antiquarian/The American Archaeologist because of an agreement with the editor of Popular Science News, who bought The Archaeologist, to stay out of archaeological publishing (Elkin 1953: 77).

6 Later assessments consider Moorehead ‘at best bumbling and well-meaning’ (Hawley 1993: 92) and ‘not a detailed and careful worker’ (Morgan and Rodabaugh 1947: 8). His obituary described him as a gentleman of the ‘Old School’ (Byers 1939).

7 The book is available online.

8 A. V. Kidder, the leading archaeologist of the American Southwest in the early part of the 20th century, wrote to his boss at the Peabody Museum that he was 'bitterly disappointed' that the weeks of excavation at the Pendelton Ruin resulted in virtually no museum display materials (quoted in Davis 1995: 80).

9 Cushing had died about two months before Moorehead finished the preface to his book but I will assume that he hadn’t been removed from the list at that time.

10 Hinsley (1985: 62) categorizes Abbott as an amateur, as does Meltzer (2003: 82–83). I believe that a good case can be made for considering Abbott a scientific archaeologist from Moorehead’s perspective. Although Abbott was not taken too seriously by the nascent profession, Moorehead, being a student of Thomas Wilson, cited his work positively. Abbott continued to self-publish his archaeological work and near the end of his life was chosen by the Encyclopedia Americana to write the sections on archaeology (Abbott 1918). His house burned in 1914 with all of his possessions. He is probably the only archaeologist whose house has been excavated as an archaeological site (Stanzeski 1974)! One of the burned books found in the excavation was Moorehead (1910).

11 Lewis mysteriously disappeared in Colorado in 1909.

12 I could not find him or a number of the other people in Table 1 in the 1900 census.

13 Edwin A. Barber (1851–1916), mentioned in Moorehead’s book, was earlier on an archaeologist, but by the end of the century was an expert on modern porcelain at the Philadelphia Museum.

14 These biographical listings are a major source of information on the careers of scientists of this era. It is available online.

15 Moorehead’s brief foray to dig in Pueblo Bonito in 1897 (see Snead n.d.) missed Wetherill, but it is possible that they did meet during his earlier Illustrated American expedition (Moorehead 1902: 46, 53).

16 Notably, this move may have been put into motion in part by excavations at Chaco Canyon by the Hyde Exploring Expedition in which George Pepper, Richard Wetherill, and Frederic Putnam were involved but also in part because of the poorly controlled digging done by Moorehead and others. There were claims at the time that Wetherill was interested in exploiting the Chaco ruins for his own purposes, but there is no evidence of this (Leake 2006). Hewett is credited with ending Wetherill’s archaeological career (Vivian and Hilpert 2002: 269).

17 Appropriately, Snyder was born in the family home located on an Indian mound in southern Illinois (Black 1944).

18 Wyman’s income was much larger than that because he had financial support outside the University.

19 Scottish archaeologist Daniel Wilson moved to University College, Toronto in 1853 but his archaeological activities were much diminished, and were replaced by ethnology (Trigger 1999: 83–84).

20 Both Holmes (1897: Plate XXXIIb) and Abbott (1912: Figure 13), on either side of the American Palaeolithic question, had fluted points in the surface collections that they made, but neither recognized their age. Regardless of their differences, both held the seemingly logical, but erroneous, belief that surface artefacts could not be of great age.

21 In 1896, when Dorsey left Harvard for the Field Museum, Putnam bragged that Dorsey was the fifth man trained at the museum ‘who has been called to fill a place of responsibility elsewhere as a professional anthropologist’ (Putnam 1897: 246). Marshall Saville was one of these. I am unsure of the others.

22 The by-laws indicate that membership was by nomination of three members, but presumably this requirement was not in effect at the initial period.

23 The strong representation of American archaeology in the American Anthropologist continued into the mid1930s when elimination of space devoted to an annual compilation of fieldwork provided impetus to formation of the Society for American Archaeology, with its journal American Antiquity (Christenson 2001: 1172).

24 The first such organization was apparently the American Archaeological Association, a short-lived group that used The Archaeologist as its official publication for a couple of issues in 1893 before the magazine was purchased by Warren K. Moorehead (Milanich 2001).

25 O’Brien (1996: 184) makes a similar observation on Missouri archaeology for the same period.

26 McKusick says that amateur publications in archaeology ceased in Iowa after 1890 because of the rise of professionalism. This certainly was not true elsewhere in the Midwest.

27 This problem is less likely to occur in other sciences except to the extent that collections of specimens may be in some way unique. Palaeontology is one example where this occurs. When he ceased doing pioneering archaeology in northern Illinois, work that was well recognized by professional archaeologists, George Langford began collecting fossils from a spectacular deposit in the same region. He published extensively on this material, although his lack of training in the field kept his work from being taken too seriously (Christenson 2003: 128).

28 Duff was the first of two archaeologists shot in New Mexico in the first decade of the 20th century, being killed in a gunfight on the streets of Deming in 1906. Richard Wetherill was the second, being shot in Chaco Canyon in 1910.

Appendix – People Considered but Rejected from Table 1

Dead: *Daniel G. Brinton (1899).

Retired and no longer active: *Lucien Carr; Augustus & Alice Le Plongeon; E. S. Morse (but invited to AAA founding meeting).

Moved out of archaeology: *E. A. Barber.

Just beginning or not yet begun careers: Henry Mason Baum (editor); E. E. Blackman; David I. Bushnell;

Mark R. Harrington; Edgar L. Hewett; A. M. Tozzer; H. Newell Wardle.

Not archaeologists: Frank Baker; *Franz Boas; *Stewart Culin; William H. Dall (palaeontologist); Frederick S. Dellenbaugh (writer); William C. Farabee; John W. Foster (geographer); Aleŝ Hrdlička; A. E. Jenks; *O. T. Mason; *Cosmos Mindeleff; *J. W. Powell; Frank Russell; *Frederick Starr (ethnologist).

Not Americanist archaeologists: Francis W. Kelsey; George Grant MacCurdy.

Amateur/collector: **A. F. Berlin (initial editor of The Archaeologist; assoc. editor of The American Archaeologist); **Jacob V. Brower; U. Francis Duff [28]; Henry W. Haynes; W. B. Hinsdale; *C. L. Metz; W. B. Nickerson (worked professionally post-1900); T. Mitchell Prudden; Horatio N. Rust; **J. F. Snyder; **Gates P. Thruston; Duren J. H. Ward; *W. J. Wintemberg (worked professionally post-1900).

Insufficient information: William Niven (working in Mexico).

* listed in text of Moorehead (1900); ** listed in preface or author of chapter in Moorehead (1900).

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How to cite: Christenson, A.L. 2011. Who were the Professional North American Archaeologists of 1900? Clues from the Work of Warren K. Moorehead. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology 21(1):4-22, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bha.2112

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Published on 12 May 2011.

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