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.