The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious federal agency created in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, to provide employment to millions of Americans during the Great Depression. Many WPA employees worked as archaeologists, conducting large-scale regional surveys and excavations at major sites throughout the U.S. The ceramics shown here come from a WPA project along the Tennessee River in northern Alabama. WPA workers on this project documented sites before they could be destroyed by the construction of dams. In 1940, the Alabama Museum of Natural History donated these sherds, along with other representative ceramic types, to the Museum’s Ceramic Repository. The sherds are examples of Wheeler Check Stamped ceramics: low-fired earthenware with fiber and limestone tempers and all-over stamped designs. This style dates to the late Archaic-Early Woodland period and is known from sites throughout northern Alabama and northwest Georgia.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.