Richard G. Morgan

From Ohio History Central
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Richard Morgan and OSU field school class at Fort Ancient in 1940. Morgan is in the middle of back row, wearing a hat

Richard G. Morgan was born in Middletown, Ohio in 1903. He attended the Ohio State University and earned a B.A. degree in 1926 followed by the M.A. degree in 1929. His field of study was geology, but he had a strong interest in archaeology as well. He wrote his Master's thesis on the geological aspects of Ohio archaeology in which he identified many of the sources of flint and other raw materials used by ancient Ohio Indians. In the introduction, he acknowledged the considerable aid he had received from Henry Shetrone.

Morgan studied anthropology at the University of Chicago beginning in 1929, but never earned his Ph.D. In 1936, Morgan replaced Emerson Greenman as the curator of archaeology of the Ohio History Connection.

Morgan worked on a number of sites, including the Fairport Harbor village site, Florence Mound, the Fort Ancient Earthworks, and Dunlap Mound. During World War II, little fieldwork could be done, so Morgan, who was excused from military service due to a physical disability, focused his efforts on organizing the Society's collections, developing museum exhibits, writing pamphlets on several of the Society's sites, and co-authoring a bibliography of Ohio archaeology.

His major contributions to archaeology include the demonstration that people of the Hopewell culture had built the Fort Ancient earthworks, not the people the Fort Ancient culture. In addition, in a synthesis of Ohio archaeology published in 1952, Morgan established the correct sequence of prehistoric cultures in Ohio as Archaic, Early Woodland, Middle Woodland, and Mississippian. This achievement was particularly remarkable, as radiocarbon dating still had not been widely applied to archaeological problems.

In 1947, during the Second Red Scare, Richard Morgan was accused of being a Communist sympathizer and dismissed from his position with the Ohio History Connection. He never again worked as an archaeologist and died in Mexico in 1968.

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