Established in 1928, the Eastern North American Ceramic Repository was intended to be a master record of the ceramic diversity of prehistoric Eastern North American Native cultures. But not all ceramics could come to the University of Michigan. Museum curator and director James B. Griffin travelled extensively to document existing collections belonging to museums and private landowners, recording information and taking numerous large-format photographs from the 1930s to the mid 1970s. Thanks to these efforts, the Ceramic Repository contains thousands of negatives and other records of the materials Griffin observed in his travels. Indeed, these records far outnumber the sherds in the repository. Shown on the left is a 3 x 4 negative of ceramics jar rims from the Fort Ancient period site of Madisonville (1000–1750 AD) in southern Ohio; the positive is shown on the right. Griffin photographed these sherds at the Cincinnati Art Museum, as he was conducting his seminal research on Fort Ancient Culture. In addition to material remains, information provided in written field records and photographs plays an essential role in archaeological interpretation.
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.