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Cite As:Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition papers, #9186. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

The Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition 1886-1894

In December, 1886, the principal members of the newly- formed Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition set forth from Albion, New York, the home of its director, Frank Hamilton Cushing, for Fort Wingate, New Mexico. Included in the party were Mr. and Mrs. Cushing; her sister, Margaret Magill, who would serve as the Expedition's artist; Frederick W. Hodge, on leave from the Bureau of Ethnology to serve as Cushing's secretary and personal assistant; and three men from Zuni who were returning home from a visit with Cushing in the East. They would be joined by other notables associated with the Expedition after they reached the area they eventually decided to investigate, the Salt River Valley near Phoenix, Arizona.

The Expedition was sponsored by Mary Hemenway, a wealthy Bostonian who had befriended Cushing during one of his interminable bouts with illness. Under her patronage, Cushing had brought the Zuni men to Massachusetts earlier that year as informants for his investigation into Zuni folklore, started during his years of residency in that pueblo. Mrs. Hemenway's interest was sparked, and she agreed to finance what is today considered the first major scientific archaeological expedition in the Southwest.

The Expedition had a stellar cast of characters associated with it during its eight year existence. Frank Cushing was already known both to the scientific and popular world as the man who had lived as a Zuni. His role as director of the Expedition was popularized in the Eastern press by Sylvester Baxter, a Boston journalist who served as home secretary of the Expedition's advisory Board of Associates. Adolph Bandelier was hired as historian, Dr. Herman F.C. ten Kate was invited as physical anthropologist, and Charles A. Garlick, formerly of the U.S. Geographical Survey, became the Expedition's field manager. Dr. J.L. Wortman of the Army Medical Museum was hired some months after the Expedition was in progress to attend to the preservation of skeletal remains. He came at the behest of Army surgeon Washington Matthews, a close personal friend of Cushing, who visited the Expedition to attend to his friend's medical needs. Frederick Webb Hodge, mentioned above, played an increasingly important, if sometimes stifled role in the daily routines of the Expedition, due in part to the frequent illness of its director. Cushing's illness eventually caused Mrs. Hemenway to bring him home, replacing him with ethnologist Jesse W. Fewkes in 1889. Fewkes directed the work of the Expedition along the lines of ethnological inquiry, especially among the Hopi, until the Expedition was terminated in 1894 with the death of its benefactor, Mrs. Hemenway.

The Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition and its enigmatic director, Frank Hamilton Cushing, have been the subjects of renewed scholarly interest in recent years. A controversial character throughout his career, Cushing's contribution to southwestern archaeology today is considered critical to understanding the prehistory of that area. Recently, David Wilcox of the Museum of Northern Arizona and others have started to pull together various pieces of information about the Expedition. When published, this new analysis will give a fuller picture of this Expedition's place in the study of the prehistory of the Southwest. While it is generally recognized as the first major scientific archaeological investigation in the Southwest, a final report of the Expedition was never written, and its first director, Frank Cushing, published little on its activities.

Emil Haury's 1945 monograph on Los Muertos, a site investigated in detail by the Expedition, however, is a classic work on Hohokam culture. It was drawn from Expedition materials (artifacts and manuscripts) deposited in 1894 at Harvard's Peabody Museum after Mrs. Hemenway's death. Haury evidently was unaware of two other locations of primary source material from the Expedition--the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, and the Huntington Free Library in New York. These institutions obtained their Expedition holdings through their association with Frederick W. Hodge, who as secretary to the Expedition retained many of its papers. He also was given the Expedition papers in the Cushing family's possession sometime after Cushing's death in 1900. Hodge was subsequently an ethnologist with the Museum of the American Indian (and concurrently president of its Library, the Huntington Free Library); he then went to the Southwest Museum where he remained director for many years.

Hemenway papers are from the early years of the Expedition, documenting the daily activities of its staff. Cushing's "Daily Jottings" actually start before the Expedition gets underway, and often are no longer than a sentence or two. The "Daily Orders" were written by Frank and Emily Cushing (Cushing, when incapacitated by illness, would dictate either to his wife, Emily, or to Frederick Hodge). The "Orders", along with the "Daily Reports in Detail", are largely from the early part of 1888. Margaret Magill's diary notes from January to August, 1887, are a particularly interesting part of the collection. Miss Magill subsequently married Frederick Hodge. Scattered Hodge-Cushing correspondence from 1887-1890 is included in these papers, as are several miscellaneous reports authored by these two men. The thus help complete the picture of the role of the Hemenway Southwestern Expedition in the study of southwestern prehistory.


Cushing, Frank Hamilton, "Preliminary Notes on the origin, Working Hypothesis, and Primary Researches of the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition," Seventh Congres international des americanistes (Berlin, 1890), p.151-94.

Haury, Emil W. The Excavation of Los Muertos and Neighboring Ruins in the Salt River Valley, Southern Arizona, Papers, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 24, no. 1 (1945).

Hinsley, Curtis M. Savages and Scientists: the Smithsonian Institution and the Development of American Anthropology, 1846-1910. Washington: Smithsonian, 1981.

Mark, Joan. Four Anthropologists: an American Science in its Early Years. New York: Science History, 1980.