Asa T. Hill, the WPA, and the Fluorescence of Systematic Archaeology in Nebraska

Author(s): Sandra Barnum

Year: 2015


The most prominent New Deal work-relief program with regard to archaeology was the Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA), which existed from 1935 to 1943. Functioning through sponsoring universities, historical societies, and other agencies, the WPA supported major field and laboratory projects. In Nebraska, almost all of the New Deal archaeological projects were carried out with WPA-funded labor. Between 1936 and 1941, the University of Nebraska or the Nebraska State Historical Society drew on such WPA laborers to excavate numerous sites under the direction of Asa T. Hill. Marvin Kivett deemed Hill the "father of systematic archeology in Nebraska." Hill was a self-educated archaeologist. Hill's archeological work led, in 1933, to his appointment as Director of the Museum and Field Archeology for the Nebraska State Historical Society. Between 1933 and 1941, extensive surveys and excavations of sites in Nebraska and Kansas were carried out under his direction, much of which was funded by the WPA. He mentored or worked alongside a number of prominent figures in early Nebraska archaeology, including Paul Cooper, Waldo Wedel, John Champe and Duncan Strong. Hill initiated the excavation methods still used for plains earthlodge villages.

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Cite this Record

Asa T. Hill, the WPA, and the Fluorescence of Systematic Archaeology in Nebraska. Sandra Barnum. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395059)


Geographic Keywords
North America - Plains

Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;