full text File Size: 98 K bytes | Add this to my bookbag

Access and Use


Preferred Citation:

Cite As:Clarence Bloomfield Moore collection, #9181. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

In Search of C.B. Moore. The field notes of Clarence B. Moore's southeastern archaeological explorations, 1891-1918, are a frequently referenced manuscript collection. Moore's expeditions, which spanned more than a quarter of a century and reached almost every navigable river in the southern United States, are well-known in the world of archaeology, but remarkably little has been published about the man and his work.

A wealthy Philadelphian, he started his amateur archaeological work at the age of 40, navigating the southeastern rivers each year in a steam-powered paddle boat, the Gopher. Publishing the result of his excavations with impressive regularity, the volume of his work in the Southeast is astounding. Although artifacts he uncovered continue to surface in new public and private collections, a large part of his archaeological treasures originally were given to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. This collection, along with copies of his publications were sold to the Museum of the American Indian in 1929--a transaction which was conducted in secrecy, but publicized by H. Newell Wardle, then an assistant curator at the Academy.

There is some consensus about Moore among archaeologists writing today about areas he previously excavated. Most comment on his amateur status. They agree that the amount of work he accomplished was remarkable by any standard, and many add that his methodology was advanced for his time. All are impressed by the regularity and quality of his publications, which were profusely illustrated with photographs taken by Moore (he was an award-winning photographer), and line drawings by Mary Louise Baker. Many cite these publications, issued regularly by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, as Moore's greatest contribution to southeastern archaeology.

Neither searches of the literature on southeastern archaeology, nor phone conversations with archaeologists, archivists, and librarians from institutions all over the eastern United States yielded a published comprehensive analysis of Moore's work. The complex telephone network did unearth H. Newell Wardle's memorial to Moore, which the Philadelphia Anthropological Society has kindly allowed us to reprint. Miss Wardle, who resigned her position as assistant curator at the Academy of Natural Sciences when that institution sold its collection of Moore's archaeological treasures, remembered Moore with fondness, and penned the only detailed description of his archaeological explorations written to date. The needed comprehensive analysis of Moore's participation in southeastern archaeology has yet to be done.

Clarence Bloomfield Moore (1852-1936) by H. Newell Wardle. Reprinted with permission from the Bulletin of the Philadelphia Anthropological Society, vol. 9, no. 2, (March 1956)

Clarence Bloomfield Moore, son of Bloomfield Moore and Clara Jessup Moore, was born in Philadelphia on January 14, 1852. He received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1873 and, in 1876, he traveled across South America, over the Andes and down the Amazon.

Following the death of his father and the litigation which involved the estate, he was astonished to find that the systematic savings from his allowance, made at his father's suggestion and duplicated by him, gave him the means for a journey around the world.

Before 1892, Clarence Moore had definitely settled upon what was to be his life work. He was then forty, and rather weary of life as a socialite, broken only by European travel and excursions for big-game hunting. After an accident on a safari, resulting in an eye injury, he turned to less dangerous field- work--the archaeological exploration of the Southeastern States, then but little known. [N.B. Moore reports in a Harvard College Anniversary Report that his eye injury was caused by a tennis ball.] Five papers on the Shell Heaps of the St. Johns River, hitherto unexplored, appeared in the American Naturalist, between November 1892 and June 1894.

In 1893 Mr. Moore had associated with him Dr. Milo G. Miller, secretary, co-worker, physician, and friend, who was to remain his inseparable companion to the end of his scientific work. The archaeological campaigns were well organized: preliminary investigation of the territory, location of likely sites, and arrangements with owners: followed, in the spring, by the expedition. Summers were devoted to cleaning, repairing, photographing and studying the collection; the reports were written in the fall.

The work began with the previously unexplored sand mounds of the St. Johns River, Florida (1894); in 1895 the sand mounds of Duval County, Murphy's River, and the Ocklawaha River were excavated. In succeeding years, the mounds of the Florida east coast, Georgia, and South Carolina were explored. By 1899 the expedition was back on the Gulf Coast, and reports on the Alabama River, the coast of northwest Florida and central Florida, each with its important treasure trove, were published.

In 1903, Mr. Moore published four papers in the American Anthropologist, one of which, "Sheet Copper from the Mounds Not Necessarily of European Origin," led to a discussion by McGuire, Putnam, Dorsey, Willoughby, and Moorehead, first appearing fully in the Anthropologist and later assembled in a special imprint. Other articles in this period include "The So-Called Hoe-Shaped Implement" (1903), "Aboriginal Urn Burial in the United States" (1904), and "A Form of Urn Burial in Mobile Bay" (1905)--all in the American Anthropologist.

Further plans for archaeological exploration led the expedition, in 1905, to the Black Warrior River to Moundville, Alabama where highly artistic objects in shell, pottery, stone, and copper, belonging to a great ceremonial center, were excavated. So strong was the feeling of Mexican affinity that Dr. J. Walter Fewkes urged that archaeological work should be carried on around the northern border of the Gulf; the expedition went on to Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound but found no objects of similar artistic quality. However, Mr. Moore's boat, The Gopher, returned to Moundville the following year, and further digging was rewarded by the discovery of a large limestone bowl, with a head in relief on the rim and incised over the bottom; this piece was both beautiful and unique but not as breath-taking as the diorite duck effigy bowl, found the previous year.

In 1908, work was carried on in the ancient cemeteries of Arkansas and Mississippi and was rewarded with red-and-buff-ware effigy vessels and incised bottles. In November 1908, and from January to April 1909, the expedition explored the Oachita Valley in northeastern Louisiana and southeastern Arkansas. Here, too, was found a culture of high artistic merit and originality-- graceful bottles; painted and engraved effigy vessels, tripod and compound; stone and pottery effigy pipes. It was a major undertaking, requiring the greatest care, and it gave important results. The expedition of 1909-1910 worked on the St. Francis, White, and Black Rivers, in Arkansas, finding jars in the form of human heads, kneeling human effigies, turtles and fish, and shell gorgets, in addition to other material.

From November of 1910 until March of 1911, Mr. Moore worked along the Mississippi River. As usual, the region had been explored in the preceding months by Capt. Rayburn, of The Gopher, and permission had been obtained to dig at promising sites. Two objects, among the many of interest, stand out: an effigy limestone pipe, in the form of a crouching man, and a "teapot" vessel, representing a tortoise lying on its back, its head lifted and the tail tapering into a spout. (The "teapot" form, it must be noted, is of very limited distribution.)

Mr. Moore's next expedition followed the Red River through Louisiana, to a point above Fulton, Arkansas, and consumed five months of 1911 and part of 1912. Notable, among other things, were Haley Mound and Foster Place, with their unusual grave furniture--to mention only two of a wealth of sites. In 1913, Mr. Moore undertook the re-study of the Tennessee River, on which a great deal had been published that needed clarification by careful field-work. The result was a report of 422 pages, with illustrations of much newly found material.

The next investigations were along the Green River, Kentucky, and along the Lower Ohio River and Mississippi. Among the rewards were the very beautiful "bannerstones," often associated with long bone or antler hooks. Capt. Rayburn, of The Gopher, believed them to be implements for making nets, similar tools having been described by William Churchill as being employed by Polynesian women of New Britain, and he even demonstrated their use by making a net. Though not fully convinced, Mr. Moore refers to these "bannerstones" as "sizers."

The Gopher next moved back to the Mississippi. Mr. Moore writes: "The end of the work on Green River, Kentucky, virtually completed for us the list of all rivers navigable by our steamer." One river, the Chocktawhatchee, in Alabama and northern Florida, had been recently opened by removal of a sand- bar. Hoping to obtain other examples of a rare type of ware, of which his expedition had encountered a sherd, Mr. Moore returned to the northwest Florida coast in 1917 and was rewarded by finding remarkable vessels of a rich red ware.

Through more than a quarter of a century, Mr. Moore explored every accessible site where the Indians of the Southern States had made their homes and buried their dead. He carefully recorded the data and brought back the evidence to be preserved for all time, publishing the results of his investigations in twenty-one large volumes. Through his work, he made a magnificent contribution to our knowledge of the First Americans.

In 1929, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, which was the repository of much of this unique collection, was intent on modernizing its zoological exhibits and coveted the space devoted to the Science of Man (See Science, Aug. 2, 1929). To save his collection from utter destruction, Mr. Moore was obliged to consent to its sale by the Academy to the Museum of the American Indian in New York. The only part of this great collection which remains in Philadelphia is, I believe, a small lot from an early Florida expedition of 1892, given to the Wagner Institute, where it remains, with the exception of one piece which Mr. Moore brought back to add to his main collection.

In his field-work and research, Mr. Moore sought and demanded accuracy. For his later reports, he was fortunate in having the beautiful and perfect drawings of Mary Louise Baker. Although Clarence B. Moore was in correspondence with many Americanists of his time, he was personally known to few. His superb reports were generously distributed to all in the field as well as to institutions, and he expected only a simple acknowledgment. None came from the Government ethnologist, Dr. W.J. McGee. When this was repeated, Mr. Moore sent him a self-addressed post-card with instructions: "If received, write `yes'; if not received, write `no'; if not wanted, write `nit'." That report was acknowledged. Generous by nature, he would go out of his way to help where he saw the need, but he preferred to make his gifts in his own fashion.

Generally, Mr. Moore shunned the ladies, but he held warm friendships with a few. Miss Baker once asked him if he had seen Mrs. --- lately, referring to the widowed sister of a close friend, recently deceased. His reply was a shocked: "Why, I never call on the ladies! They might ask me to call again!" But once a year, he hired a carriage and pair, with special driver, in which he took an old lady on a drive through Fairmount Park. And also once a year, at Christmas time, it was his habit to give a formal dinner--not stag--at his home at 1321 Locust Street in Philadelphia. He died on March 24, 1936.

Guide Information

The field notes of Clarence B. Moore's southeastern archaeological investigations are in 45 notebooks spanning the years 1892-1918. Moore seems to have developed a system where he recorded his on-site information in a small notebook, and later transferred the data in a more polished form to larger notebooks which he then used as the text for his publications.

The smaller notebooks often contain details which were eliminated from the larger texts. They have site lists appended, which have been included in this guide. The large format notebooks include both site lists and alphabetical indices. Sites from the large notebooks are not listed in this guide because they are readily available in Moore's publications. A daily journal was kept in the large format notebooks, and journal entry dates and pagination are noted in this guide.

If using the microfilm, the frames are not numbered, individual notebooks are. Page numbers have been included in this guide where appropriate to assist researchers in locating desired information. Total page numbers given for each notebook reflect the number of pages in the notebook rather than the number of pages actually used. Each roll contains a general index to the field notebooks by date, state, and country. Consult this index to determine which notebooks are relevant.