National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives

RIVER BASIN SURVEYS (1946-1969), Records

The creation of the River Basin Surveys (RBS) came from the work of the Committee for the Recovery of Archeological Remains (see Frederick Johnson Papers), an ad hoc group of anthropologists sponsored by the American Anthropological Association, Society for American Archaeology, and the American Council of Learned Societies, with liaison members from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Research Council. The committee's concern was the preservation of archeological evidence threatened by post-World War II public works programs, especially the construction of dams and reservoirs. The result of the committee's work was the Inter-Agency Salvage Program, a loose cooperative arrangement among the Smithsonian, National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, many universities, and other public and private organizations. They exchanged information and finance and carried out salvage archeological work throughout the United States. Authority for such cooperation was provided in the Historic Sites Act of 1935.

Organized in 1946, the RBS carried out the Smithsonian's part of the program. It was particularly active in the Missouri Basin, West Coast states, southeastern states, and Texas. Initially, the National Park Service financed the work, using its own funds and requesting additional funds from other agencies. In time, the Park Service bore virtually all direct costs in its own budget, providing the RBS with funds and making contracts with state and other organizations for additional work. In the mid-1950s, the Park Service became increasingly involved in field work and took over certain RBS field offices.

Through most of its existence, the RBS was an autonomous unit of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Headquarters were in Washington, D.C, and that office directed projects outside the areas of the field offices. There was a major field office in Lincoln, Nebraska, that directed work in the Missouri Basin. For relatively short periods, there were also field offices in Austin, Texas, and Eugene, Oregon, directing work in Texas and parts of the West Coast.

With the disbandment of the BAE in 1965, the RBS joined the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology (Department of Anthropology since 1968). In 1966, the headquarters moved to Lincoln; and, in 1968, the RBS was placed administratively under the director of the National Museum of Natural History. In 1969, the Smithsonian transferred the RBS to the National Park Service, but provision was made for the deposit of records and manuscripts in the Smithsonian.

The files of the central office and field offices include many administrative files. Also included are several site files that have photographs and completed forms for data collected in the field and the laboratory. Mostly these include material prepared by Smithsonian employees. Although there are also materials collected by archeologists outside the Smithsonian, the sponsoring institutions usually retained their own material. Many of the specimens collected by the RBS are now in the National Museum of Natural History Department of Anthropology.

The files of Harold A. Huscher and Carl Miller were separated when those archeologists were moved to the United States National Museum Department of Anthropology to work with the RBS specimen collections. Huscher's material largely concerns the Chattahoochee River area. Miller's files mainly concern Virginia and North Carolina. Both sets include material concerning pre-RBS work. Miller's papers, for example, include documents concerning his work for the Work Projects Administration. Some files of Director Frank H.H. Robert's began before the RBS was organized and concern his activities as a BAE archeologist.

Much of the archeological material is controlled by the system for designating sites developed originally in Nebraska for Work Projects Administration projects and modified by the RBS. This consists of a three-part code that includes a number to indicate the alphabetical order of the forty-eight contiguous states; an alphabetical abbreviation, in most cases two capital letters, to indicate the county; and a number for each site within a county.

List of River Basin Survey correspondents

DATES: 1928-1960 (mostly 1947-1969)

QUANTITY: ca. 115 linear meters (ca. 376 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: Records of the Washington, D.C., office, including (1) registers of transactions, 1947-1966; (2) annual reports, 1947-1964; (3) administrative and reference file, 1936-1966; (4) correspondence, 1948-1966; (5) material relating to the coordination of archeological salvage and the constructions of dams, 1945-1952; (6) correspondence with the National Park Service, 1945-1965; (7) correspondence with cooperating or concerned agencies and individuals, 1945-1963; (8) records relating to the Committee for the Recovery of Archaeological Remains, 1945-1965; (9) site files for areas outside the Missouri Basin, 1928; 1947-1955; (10) notebooks, 1942-1956; (11) reports of fluted points, 1934-1959; (12) data on employees, 1946-1965; (13) miscellany, 1939-1968; (14) miscellaneous photographs and other material, 1947-1963; records of the Lincoln, Nebraska, office, including (15) correspondence with Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr., 1946-1962; (16) correspondence with Waldo R. Wedel, 1946-1955; (17) correspondence regarding courtesies, honors, and material relating largely to sites outside the Missouri Basin, 1947-1964; (18) correspondence with Theodore E. White, 1947-1954; (19) correspondence and other material relating to the Bureau of Reclamation, 1947-1960; (20) correspondence with the National Park Service, 1945-1960; (21) state file, 1946-1955; (22) memoranda of agreement and contracts, 1955-1968; (23) correspondence with government agencies, 1946-1954; (24) correspondence with the Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service, 1955-1969; (25) quarterly progress reports to the Missouri Basin Field committee, 1947-1967; (26) annual reports to the Bureau of American Ethnology and other general reports, 1956-1969; (27) notes on telephone conversations, 1953-1969; (28) notes on staff meetings, trips, and conferences, 1952-1964; (29) notices of the Corps of Engineers, 1965-1968; (30) personnel data cards, 1947-1967; (31) "reservoir file," 1946-1962 (includes RBS and National Park Service preliminary appraisal reports); (32) progress reports and field correspondence, 1946-1968; (33) account books, 1950-1966; (34) library catalog cards, n.d.; (35) miscellaneous administrative records; (36) maps (state file), 1909-1960; (37) data regarding nonarcheological dendrochronological specimens, 1958-1964; (38) radiocarbon date cards, 1958-1961; (39) miscellany, n.d.; (40) site files, ca. 1947-1969; (41) survey data forms from cooperating institutions and archeologists, 1949-1965; (42) reflex negatives of site field material; (43) prints of field photographs, 1946-1969; (44) negatives of field photographs, 1946-1969; (45) prints of laboratory photographs, 1951-1969; (46) negatives of laboratory photographs, 1951-1969; (47) field slides, 1946-1969; (48) laboratory slides, 1952-1967; (49) large negatives and prints, n.d.; (50) illustrations for exhibit and publications, n.d.; (51) photographs of staff, facilities, special events, and miscellaneous other subjects, 1960s; (52) maps and illustrations for publications, 1940s-1950s; (53) maps; records of the Austin, Texas, office, including (54) correspondence and administrative records, 1947-1952; (55) alphabetical file, 1945-1969; (56) site files, 1947-1955; (57) photographs, 1939-1955; records of the Eugene, Oregon, office, including (58) general file, 1947-1952; Carl F. Miller's files including (59) correspondence, 1947-1965; (60) field notebooks, 1947-1962; (61) documents relating to Work Projects Administration archeology in Alabama, 1938-1940; (62) RBS site files, 1947-1963; (63) material concerning the John H. Kerr (Buggs Island) Reservoir, 1949-1961; (64) miscellany, 1931-1964; (65) organizational file, 1949-1965; (66) subject file, 1930-1965; (67) drafts of manuscripts, bibliographies, and notes, 1930s-1960s; (68) illustrative and cartographic material, 1940s-1960s; (69) photographs, 1936-1962; Harold A. Huscher's files, including (70) periodic reports, 1958-1963; (71) archeological reports, 1958-1963; (72) correspondence, 1958-1965; (73) alphabetical file, 1958-1965; (74) miscellaneous archeological forms and lists, n.d.; (75) writings by Harold A. Huscher, 1962-1965; (76) administrative and financial records, 1958-1963; (77) photographic records, 1958-1963; (78) mounted photographic prints, 1958-1960; (79) negatives for mounted prints, 1958-1960; (80) miscellaneous photographs, 1951-1963; (81) color slides, 1958-1963; (82) reflex negatives of textual records; (83) newspaper clippings, 1958-1964; (84) miscellaneous material relating to the Missouri Basin Project, 1956-1965; (85) site files, 1958-1963; (86) cartographic and illustrative material, 1958-1963; Harvard G. Ayers's file, including (87) records of a survey of the New River, 1965

FINDING AID: Draft register with lists of sites and employees; see appendix D for a list of states and counties for which there is archeological material in the records.

ROBBINS, LOUISE MARIE (d. 1987), Papers

Louise Robbins was a physical anthropologist trained at Indiana University (M.A., 1963; Ph.D., 1968). She taught at the University of Kentucky, 1967-1971; Mississippi State University, 1971-1974, where she served as the coordinator for anthropology within the Department of Anthropology and Sociology; and at the University of North Carolina at Greenville from 1974 until her death.

The papers are limited to Robbins' work on footprints. Included are documents resulting from her basic study involving 550 American individuals and established the various measurements with which she worked. The papers consist of footprints, foot outlines, data forms, notes, and computer printouts. These provided much of the data in Footprints: Collection, Analysis, and Interpretation, Springfield, Illinois, 1985. The value of Robbins' methods in distinquishing between individuals on the basis of their footprints has been seriously called into question.

Robbins was also a student of prehistoric American populations and was interested in ancient footprints found at archeological sites. In 1978-1980, she joined Mary D. Leakey's expeditions to Laetoli, a northern Tanzanian site of early hominid remains estimated to be 3.6 million years old. The site also has many ancient footprint trails of several types of animals, including hominids and other primates, preserved in volcanic ash. It was mainly the hominid footprints that Robbins studied, the results being reported in Leakey and John M. Harris's Laetoli: Pleistocene Site in Northern Tanzania, 1987.

The second part of the papers consists of the notes, charts, and photographs pertaining to the Laetoli footprints and related correspondence and drafts of Robbins' manuscript. The notes and photographs also include material relating to the footprints of nonhominid primates and of other animals. Although the photographs mainly include the footprints, a few show general views, specimens, and members of the expeditions, including Mary D. Leakey and Louise Robbins. A few photographs concern Olduvai Gorge rather than Laetoli. The letters are mainly those of Robbins, Leakey, Harris, and Michael H. Day.

DATES: 1970s-1980s

QUANTITY: ca. 4.1 linear meters (ca. 13.5 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: Basic footprint data, including (1) footprints and foot outlines, data forms and measurements, and morphological observations; (2) footprint variations; (3) computer printout sheets; and (4) miscellany; and Laetoli material, including (5) textual records; (6) photographs; (7) slides.

FINDING AID: Folder list

ROBERTS, FRANK HAROLD HANNA, JR. (1897-1966), Papers

As an undergraduate, Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr., was trained in history and English at the University of Denver. After receiving his B.A., he worked briefly as a journalist. Entering graduate school at Denver, he came under the influence of E.B. Renaud and, later, Jean A. Jeançon. Although his earliest graduate study was political science, he concurrently investigated Piedra-Pagosa ruins along the San Juan River of southwestern Colorado. He also became an instructor in archeology at the University of Denver. In 1923, he became an assistant curator at the Colorado State Museum.

Musch of Roberts' formal training in archeology came through subsequent studies at Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in 1927. While a student, he spent the summers of 1925 and 1926 on Neil M. Judd's expeditions to Chaco Canyon. Judd offered him the opportunity to study pottery sequences, thus expanding on work already carried out successfully for the Piedra region. From this work at Chaco Canyon, Roberts produced his dissertation. In 1926, he was given a permanent appointment as archeologist with the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE).

For some time after this, Roberts continued to work primarily among ruins in the Southwest. In 1927, he conducted excavations at Shabik'esche Village in Chaco Canyon and reconnoitered Montezuma Creek. In 1928, he continued work in the Piedra district and, in 1929, excavated Kiathuthlunna on the Long H Ranch in eastern Arizona. In 1930, he excavated the Village of the Great Kivas on the Zuni reservation and, in 1931-1933, worked along the Whitewater River in eastern Arizona and at a site near Allantown, Arizona. For the University of New Mexico Field School in 1940-1941, Roberts directed expeditions to the Bc-53 site in Chaco Canyon.

It has been pointed out that throughout this work Roberts' primary interest was "the early structure and sequences of Southwestern culture." This early interest prepared the way for what became Roberts' ultimate interest in the problem of early man in America. Requested to inspect the discoveries at the original Folsom site in 1927, Roberts became convinced of the error in contemporary thinking about the relatively recent arrival of man in the New World. Increasingly, he was drawn into study of the problem and, particularly after 1933, devoted most of his field work to it. Between 1934 and 1940, he worked at Lindenmeier, a Folsom campsite in northern Colorado. In 1941, he excavated the Mons site near the Peaks of Otter in Virginia, though failing to find expected remains of early man. In the same year, he worked at a Folsom site at San Jon, New Mexico, and, in 1942, another Folsom site in the Agate Basin in Wyoming. In 1943--again concerning his interest in early man--he reconnoitered the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in Texas. In addition, Roberts inspected other sites in Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Saskatchewan.

Roberts also worked briefly with other interests. In 1932, he served as an advisor to the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., in its excavations at Chichén Ítza and Uxmal in the Yucatan. In 1933-1934, he led a Civil Works Administration expedition to excavate mounds in the National Military Park in Tennessee. In 1956-1960, he was on the advisory council for the National Park Service's Wetherill Mesa Project.

In BAE administration, Roberts became the assistant chief under Matthew W. Stirling in 1944. In 1946, he became, in addition, the director of the BAE River Basin Surveys (RBS), a salvage archeological program concerned with areas where the federal government was planning dams and reservoirs. In 1947, he became the BAE associate director and, in 1958, its director.

Besides these duties, Roberts served as American representative to the 1937 League of Nations International Conference of Archeologists at Cairo and as representative on the International Commission for Sites and Monuments in 1939-1942. During World War II, he was involved with the Ethnogeographic Board, an organization that provided liaison between federal war agencies and the scientific community. For the board, Roberts prepared a survival manual and a volume on Egypt and the Suez Canal that were issued in the series of Smithsonian War Background Studies. Later, Roberts was also on the National Council for Historical Sites and Buildings for several years. He also served the Smithsonian on committees concerned primarily with personnel.

Outside official duties, Roberts represented the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on the National Research Council in 1935-1949. In 1936, he was president of the Anthropological Society of Washington and, in 1944, vice president of the AAA. In 1949, he became president of the Washington Academy of Sciences. He was a founding member of the Society for American Archaeology and a member of the committee that drafted its constitution and bylaws. He was SAA president in 1950. In 1952, he became a vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This collection (manuscript 4851) is almost exclusively concerned with Roberts' scientific fieldwork and resulting publications. It is, however, incomplete. For example, there is nothing but photographs concerning his work at Agate Basin in Wyoming (though some related site forms are in the records of the River Basin Surveys). There are also documents concerning Roberts' scientific work among the Numbered Manuscripts. In addition, some series that form the records of the River Basin Surveys began as Roberts' own files and were simply continued once his interest turned to the RBS. Hence, there is correspondence, for example, concerning Roberts' work in New Mexico in the River Basin Surveys correspondence series. In addition, much of Roberts' correspondence was placed in the Bureau of American Ethnology correspondence files.

The correspondence in manuscript 4851 is a miscellany with but few letters from any one correspondent. Included are materials from Harriet M. Allyn, Ernst V. Antevs, Frank C. Baker, Ralph W. Chaney, Loren C. Eiseley, J.D. Figgins, C.L. Gazin, Carl E. Guthe, Marion Hall, John Harcus, Emil W. Haury, Virginia Beth Hitchcock, Earnest A. Hooton, Edgar B. Howard, Aleš Hrdlicka, Neil M. Judd, Sheldon S. Judson, A. Remington Kellogg, Alex D. Krieger, Jane Leonard, Oscar McCarty, Carl F. Miller, Jack C. Moomaw, Cyrus N. Ray, Paul David Reiter, Horace G. Richards, Harry L. Shapiro, Anna O. Shepard, D. W. Van Devanter, Clarence Van Riet Lowe, Joe Ben Wheat, and George Woodbury. Also incorporated in the material are documents concerning Chaco Canyon by Neil Merton Judd and papers and other materials by Jack C. Anderson, Ruth Atkins, Raymond S. Baby, John C. Deacon, Walter B. Greenwood, Ernest H. Hill, Jr., Dorothy Kyte, Jane Leonard, Dorothy Morgan, G. Hubert Smith, Theodore Stern, and T. Dale Stewart.

Also included are materials that relate to Edwin N. Wilsen's work to publish Roberts' material on the Lindenmeier site (Wilmsen and Roberts, Lindenmeier, 1934-1974: Concluding Report on Investigations, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology,number 24, Washington, D.C., 1978). See the next entry regarding the collection of materials assembled by Wilmsen for this publication on the Lindenmeier site.

DATES: 1921-1943

QUANTITY: 3 linear meters (10.5 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Documents relating to work at archeological sites, 1925-1941; (2) manuscripts of writings, 1921-1960; (3) correspondence, 1926, 1932-1954; (4) miscellany, mostly 1926-1972; (5) illustrations, 1920s-1940s; (6) photographs, 1921-1947, 1950

FINDING AID: Janette Saquet, Register to the Papers of Frank Harold Hanna Roberts, Jr., National Anthropological Archives, 1983

CALL NUMBER: Manuscript 4851


See the description of the Roberts' papers in appendix C for a sketch of Roberts' career.

From 1934 to 1940, Roberts worked at the Lindenmeier site, "the largest paleolithic site yet discovered in the Western Hemisphere," but he never got a chance to publish his material because of other duties. Shortly before he died, Roberts gave permission to Wilmsen, a student at the University of Arizona, to use Lindenmeier material for his dissertation. Wilmsen was then a logical choice when a 1966 committee, consisting of Henry B. Collins, Clifford Evans, Waldo R. Wedel, and Richard B. Woodbury, sought someone to bring Roberts' materials into publishable form. Then an employee of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, Wilmsen became a research associate of the Smithsonian and came to Washington to work during 1967-1969. He published the manuscript under his own and Roberts' name entitled Lindenmeier, 1934-1974: Concluding Report on Investigations, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology number 24, 1978.

DATES: 1934-1978

QUANTITY: ca. 1.2 linear meters (ca. 4 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Copies of Roberts' notes (including notes of John Cotter, 1935), 1934-1940; (2) subject file; (3) manuscripts; (4) data sheets; (5) illustrations; (6) computer tape of book; (7) computer printouts on artifacts; (8) illustrations and mounted photographs; (9) newspaper with article on Roberts, 1940; (10) photographs

FINDING AID: Folder list


Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr., was a Smithsonian anthropologist from 1926 to 1964. In 1933-1934, he excavated Indian mounds at Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee. The work was a Civil Works Administration project. Related material is in the Roberts papers in the series of Numbered Manuscripts.

DATES: ca. 1934

QUANTITY: ca. 150 negatives



CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 137

RÓHEIM, GÉZA (1891-1953), Papers

Géza Róheim was born in Hungary and was trained in human geography at the University of Budapest (Ph.D., 1914) and at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin. He went through psychoanalysis under Sándor Ferenczi and became a lay practitioner. He was also among the earliest anthropologists to work within Freudian theory, his earliest works being largely the application of Freudian theory to data gathered from readings.

In 1928, Marie Bonaparte offered to support Róheim on a expedition to Somaliland, Australia, Normanby Island, and the United States. Thus between 1928 and 1930, he carried out field work with the Somali, Aranda, Lirittja, Duau, Dobu, and Yuma.

In 1938, Róheim took up residence in the United States. In 1938-1939, he was on the staff of the Worchester State Hospital, in Massachusetts; and, following that, he was in private psychoanalytical practice in New York. In 1947, he worked with the Navaho.

The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research donated the papers. They include notebooks concerning the Duau, Dobu, and Yuma and materials on Australian Aborigines. In addition, there are manuscripts of Róheim's writings and reprints of articles. Most material is in English. The existence of Navaho notes has not been determined.

DATES: 1929-1931 (notebooks)

QUANTITY: 2.7 linear meters (ca. 9 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: None discernible


Guide to the Collections of the National Anthropological Archives