IU ethnohistory archives to bear name of pioneering researcher Wheeler-Voegelin

  • Oct. 10, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Officials with the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology have announced the creation of the Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Archives, a collection of documents, scholarly papers and other materials that include a nearly 350-year history of American Indians of the Midwest.

An Indiana University faculty member, Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin was a pioneering figure in the field of ethnohistory. She founded the American Society for Ethnohistory in 1954 and was editor of its journal, Ethnohistory, from 1954 to 1964. She died in 1988.

The announcement that the archives will bear her name was made during the annual meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory, taking place Oct. 8 to 12 in Indianapolis and co-hosted by Indiana University.

The centerpiece of the archives is the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection, made up of materials compiled in the 1950s by Wheeler-Voegelin and her fellow researchers to provide evidence for land claims lawsuits brought before the Indian Claims Commission. They cover the history and land use of American Indian tribes in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region from 1613 to the late 1900s, including court dockets, judicial facts and opinions, and indices.

“We are pleased to recognize the remarkable contributions of Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin, who effectively established the field of ethnohistory 60 years ago at Indiana University,” said April Sievert, director of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory and senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection is an astonishing compilation that links historic and legal documents. We are working to improve access with electronic finding aids and a digitization initiative to make it easier for scholars and the public to use the materials.”

The archives, housed at the James H. Kellar Library of Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, also include papers of Black, Indiana’s first professional archaeologist, and of Eli Lilly, an Indianapolis industrialist and ardent supporter of archaeological research in Indiana, along with the papers of other archaeologists, institutions and professional organizations in Indiana and the Midwest.

Wheeler-Voegelin taught anthropology, history and folklore at Indiana University Bloomington, beginning in 1943. She directed the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley Research Project from 1956 until her retirement in 1969, preparing extensive reports for the U.S. Department of Justice.

She was the first woman to receive a doctorate in anthropology from Yale University. In the 1940s, she conducted linguistic and ethnographic field work among the Ottawas and Ojibwas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She became president of the American Folklore Society in 1948 and was secretary of the American Anthropological Association from 1949 to 1951. She edited the Journal of American Folklore from 1941 to 1946.

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology is an Indiana University research center supported in part by the IU Bloomington Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

For more information about the Glenn Black Laboratory or to inquire about conducting research in the Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Archives, email gbl@indiana.edu.

Related Links

The Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection

The Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection in the James H. Kellar Library of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology includes records from as early as 1613.

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