Hopewell Collection

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Hopwell Mica Hand
Hopewell Mica Hand Effigy. © The Field Museum, A110024c, Photographer Ron Testa.

“Ohio Hopewell: Ancient Crossroads of the American Midwest”

A digital project launched in July 2016, “Ohio Hopewell” makes The Field Museum’s rich and diverse collection of Hopewell artifacts accessible to a global online audience. Explore the Hopewell Culture of the Ohio River Valley through digitized materials including archival documents, excavation albums, and object photographs: http://hopewell.unl.edu

Making this collection publicly available facilitates research both within the Museum and with outside scholars and institutions. Additionally, a digitized collection provides an educational resource for the public on the Hopewell, and the archaeology and history of the Midwest.

This project was directed by Dr. Carrie Heitman of University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Field Museum Associate Curator William Parkinson co-directed the project. Other team members from The Field Museum include Collections Manager Jamie Kelly, Krystal Britt (UIC, FM Graduate Research Assistant), and James Brown (Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University, and FM Adjunct Curator).

About the Hopewell Collection at The Field Museum

The Field Museum houses one of the largest collections of Hopewell Artifacts in the world. This collection, comprised primarily of Warren K. Moorehead’s 1891–1892 excavation of the Hopewell Site, dates to the origins of the Museum itself. Moorehead’s excavation was undertaken for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, an event that brought together anthropological materials from around the world and would later result in the founding of The Field Museum of Natural History. The Field Museum would come to permanently house the artifacts from Moorehead’s Hopewell site excavation. Over the past century, the collection has undergone substantial changes as artifacts have been moved, traded from institution to institution, and sometimes lost.

The need to document and properly catalogue the extensive collection was first recognized in 1985 by Patricia Essenpreis. She and Michael Moseley began an NEH-funded project in association with the Ohio Historical Society to organize and re-catalogue the collection. Throughout this project, the Hopewell collection was organized, photographed, and documented in an effort to produce an extensive collection manuscript. This manuscript was well underway throughout 1985 and 1986, with several chapters written by independent scholars and over 500 professional photos taken.

The documents from Essenpreis’s project were housed in The Field Museum Archives, where they remained until being rediscovered in 2003 by Tristan Almazan, who was working on the Save America’s Treasures project. Under the direction of Steve Nash, Almazan picked up where Essenpreis’s team had left off in the late 1980s. Between 2003 and 2005, Almazan and Nash, along with Lauren Zych, Syeda Razeen, Kathy Lemberg, and N’omi Greber, further documented the Hopewell collection and compiled finding guides for the collection.