Warren K. Moorehead

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Warren K. Moorehead was the first Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio History Connection. Born in Siena, Italy in 1866, his family later moved to Xenia, Ohio where he was raised. He attended both Denison University and the University of Pennsylvania, but did not graduate from either institution.

The young Moorehead had a great interest in archaeology and excavated a number of sites in Licking County and the Muskingum Valley. His efforts caught the attention of Frederic Ward Putnam of Harvard University's Peabody Museum who hired him to conduct excavations at Fort Ancient and the Hopewell Mound Group to obtain artifacts for the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Moorehead was hired by the Ohio History Connection in 1894 and he traveled around the state excavating sites, acquiring collections for the Society, and compiling data for a map of Ohio's mounds and enclosures. He resigned as curator in 1897 for health reasons.

His major contributions to archaeology include the preservation of Fort Ancient as an archaeological park and the first systematic investigations of that site. His work at the Hopewell Mound Group helped lay the foundations for defining the Hopewell culture. William C. Mills, Moorehead's successor at the Ohio History Connection, incorporated his data on archaeological sites in Ohio into the Archaeological Atlas of Ohio. Later in his career, as the head of the Peabody Institute in Andover, Massachusetts, Moorehead conducted important excavations at the Cahokia site in Illinois and the Etowah site in Georgia.

Moorehead sometimes is remembered unkindly for his supposedly crude excavation methods and for his involvement in the buying and selling of artifacts. Both criticisms are unfair. In the light of today's standards his field methods certainly would be considered deficient, but for their time they were not all that unusual. The practice of buying and selling artifacts, particularly specimens considered to be duplicates, also was not unprecedented at the time.

Moorehead is seldom remembered for his tireless efforts on behalf of living Native Americans. He wrote many articles condemning the Wounded Knee massacre and, in 1909, he was appointed to the board of commissioners for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He worked to expose the abuses of Indian agents and fought for improvements in health care on Indian reservations. His history of the Indian tribes in Ohio is an early and sympathetic account of how Ohio's indigenous peoples were driven from their lands.

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