Illinois Archaeologists’ Legacy of Learning from Collectors

Dale L. McElrath, Thomas E. Emerson, Madeleine G. Evans, Steven L. Boles, Thomas J. Loebel, David J. Nolan, Robert J. Reber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The field of natural history, with which archaeology in the United States devel- oped, was initially advanced by self-taught individuals who shared a passion for exploring the world and studying and collecting natural and cultural ob- jects and an eagerness to share their findings with the public. In the Midwest, numerous academic societies, and eventually public museums, promoted the knowledge of native history by collecting “objects” that romanticized that past as part of the natural world. With the emergence of profession- al archaeology, avid practitioners who were not deemed professionals were slowly sidelined. However, as we demonstrate, collectors and avocational archaeologists not only played an essential role in promoting archaeology to the public but also provided important scientific information to the pro- fessional community. Their support was also critical in emplacing the laws that provide public funds to advance our knowledge, preserve the past, and educate the greater populace about our findings. The Illinois State Archae- ological Survey embraces the need for professional/avocational interaction and has undertaken a number of public outreach efforts in order to promote that interaction—a primary goal being to record the large surface-collected artifact assemblages from the Prairie State before they become forever lost.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication62nd Annual Midwest Archaeological Conference Abstracts
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameOccasional Papers: Official Publication of the Midwest Archaeological Conference


  • ISAS

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