North America

Collections from North America, which include parts of the Caribbean, comprise nearly half of the Peabody’s collections. With a shared history of Indigenous cultures, European occupation, and the middle passage, the Americas share a transnational material culture that spans across this expansive region. The majority of collections result from Harvard’s long history of archaeological excavations in North America as well as individual donations of archaeological collections. The cultural material of many diverse peoples in the long history of North America from more than 15,000 years ago to recent decades are included in the collections.

In addition to the extensive archaeological collections, nearly 30% of the materials from North America stewarded by the Peabody Museum represent a wide breadth of ethnographic materials from the seventeenth- through the twenty-first centuries  created by known or unrecorded Indigenous artists and makers , including everyday items as well as culturally sensitive items. These collections came to the museum through collecting expeditions as well as through the hands of early collectors and other museums.  

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Highlights from the North American Collections

Print of "Bird Humans" by Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak. Gift of Chauncey C. Nash, 61‐22‐10/39043.

Sculpture and prints from numerous Inuit artists, including the work of Puvirnituq artist Inukjuakjuk Pudlat (1937-2004)

Print of "Bird Humans" by Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak. Gift of Chauncey C. Nash, 61‐22‐10/39043.

Decorated Kwakiutl cradle from Vancouver Island, late 19th century. Gift of Lewis H. Farlow, 05‐7‐10/65626

Nineteenth-century, masks, cultural items, models, and tools created by Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) makers in British Columbia. 

Decorated Kwakiutl cradle from Vancouver Island, late 19th century. Gift of Lewis H. Farlow, 05-7-10/65626

Ramey incised ceramic rim sherd excavated from Lake George, Mississippi. Peabody Museum Expedition, S. Williams, Director, 1959, 59‐40‐10/107945

Archaeological collections from sites in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi spanning nearly 2,000 years of history excavated by the Lower Mississippi Survey in the 20th century, considered one of the most pivotal research endeavors in the history of Eastern North American archaeology

Ramey incised ceramic rim sherd excavated from Lake George, Mississippi. Peabody Museum Expedition, S. Williams, Director, 1959, 59-40-10/107945. 

Carved stone or petrified wood dish of  a "serpent monster" or other animal figure, circa 200 B.C.- A.D. 400, excavated from the Turner Mounds in Ohio. Peabody Museum Expedition, F. W. Putnam and Dr. C. L. Metz, Directors, 1882, 82‐35‐10/29685

A diverse array of archaeological collections representing nearly 3,000 years of history created by Indigenous communities who lived in present-day Ohio, many associated with archaeologist Warren K. Moorehead

Carved stone or petrified wood dish of  a "serpent monster" or other animal figure, circa 200 B.C.- A.D. 400, excavated from the Turner Mounds in Ohio. Peabody Museum Expedition, F. W. Putnam and Dr. C. L. Metz, Directors, 1882, 82-35-10/29685. 

Basket with lid by Wiyot/Karuk artist Elizabeth Hickox, circa 1900, Northern California. Gift of Lewis H. Farlow, 08‐4‐10/73277

Approximately 1,000 baskets from California that represent the creativity and diversity of Indigenous basketry artists, including the work of Wiyot/Karuk artist Elizabeth Hickox (1872-1947)

Basket with lid by Wiyot/Karuk artist Elizabeth Hickox, circa 1900, Northern California. Gift of Lewis H. Farlow, 08-4-10/73277.

Tlingit ceremonial spoon carved from goat horn depicting a sea lion, Alaska. Exchange with the American Antiquarian Society, 10‐47‐10/76830.

Several early collections of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century objects created by Indigenous makers that came to the Museum via other historical organizations, such as the American Antiquarian SocietyBoston Marine Society, and Massachusetts Historical Society.

Tlingit ceremonial spoon carved from goat horn depicting a sea lion, Alaska. Exchange with the American Antiquarian Society, 10‐47‐10/76830.

Beaded neck ornament, possibly Apsáalooke (Crow), early 19th century. Gift of the Heirs of David Kimball, 99‐12‐10/53017

Early nineteenth-century objects created by Mandan, Hidatsa, Lakota and other Indigenous artists, chiefs, and makers collected by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during the 1803 Corps of Discovery.

Beaded neck ornament, possibly Apsáalooke (Crow), early 19th century. Gift of the Heirs of David Kimball, 99-12-10/53017. 

Handcolored etching and engraving entitled "Tuch-ee, a Cherokee War Chief" by American adventurer and portait artist George Catlin, 1830s. Gift of Mrs. Fannie H. Eckstorm, 37‐119‐10/60552

Nineteenth- and early twentieth century paintings and drawings of Indigenous leaders and communities by George Catlin, Charles Bird King, Seth Eastman

Handcolored etching and engraving entitled "Tuch-ee, a Cherokee War Chief" by American adventurer and portait artist George Catlin, 1830s. Gift of Mrs. Fannie H. Eckstorm, 37-119-10/60552.

Base and stem of clear glass goblet, excavated from Harvard Yard in the 1980s. Harvard Yard Excavations, 1984‐1987, 987‐22‐10/100192

Archaeological material representing nearly 400 years of Harvard history, including the seventeenth-century Harvard Indian College, excavated by the Harvard Yard Archaeological Project

Base and stem of clear glass goblet, excavated from Harvard Yard in the 1980s. Harvard Yard Excavations, 1984‐1987, 987-22-10/100192. 

All images © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology unless otherwise noted