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COLLECTION Identifier: 999-24

Putnam, Frederic Ward (1839-1915), Papers,

This collection of Putnam papers were formerly part of the Ralph Dexter Papers at Kent State University Archives. They include FW Putnam family correspondence, professional papers and ephemera.


  • 1855-1935 (bulk)
  • 1886

Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions on access: none

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions on use: none


4 linear feet

This collection contains family and professional papers and ephemera and includes correspondence, scrapbook, biographical printed materials and notes, essays, 70th birthday photographs and correspondence. Also included are institutional clippings, lecture notes, curatorial correspondence, financial records, writings, reports. There are records pertaining to the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, professional associations, mound exploration and the World Columbian Exposition, Chicago. The collection includes one oversize item, a broadside for the Putnam lecture on mound builders, 1866.

Biographical Sketch

It is safe to say that the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology would not be what it is today - a premier research facility with outstanding collections - without Frederic Ward Putnam. A multi-faceted and energetic man (see the chronology below for a selected list of his many and varied appointments), he was appointed the Harvard College Peabody Professor of American Archaeology and Ethnology in 1885. He retained that post until 1909 and was Professor Emeritus from 1910 until 1914. As Director, he was responsible for a variety of museum functions which included not only administrative duties but field collecting, curation of collections, fund raising, and teaching in the Harvard College Department of Anthropology which he helped to establish in 1897. He served on the Committee of the Department of Anthropology from its inception in the same year through 1908. Putnam also served as a Museum Trustee from 1875 through 1896, and became Honorary Curator/Director upon his retirement in 1909, in which capacity he served until his death in 1915.


  1. Series I: Family Papers, 1807-1949
  2. ___1. Incoming Correspondence, 1857-1906, n.d.
  3. ___2. Outgoing, F.W. Putnam, 1858-1903, n.d.
  4. ___3. Reciprocal, 1890-1910, n.d.
  5. ___4. General Correspondence, Writings & Notes, 1824-1949
  6. ___5. Ephemera, 1860
  7. Series II: Professional Papers, 1857-1967
  8. ___1. Biographical Materials, 1861-1917
  9. ___2. Institutional Correspondence and Clippings, 1857-1967
  10. ___3. Subject Files, 1874-1935
  11. ___4. World Columbian Exposition Records, 1891-1913
  12. Series III: Oversize, 1886

Physical Location

Peabody Museum Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition


The papers were transferred to the Peabody Museum Archives by the Kent State University Archives in 1999. At Kent State, the papers were part of the Ralph Dexter Papers. They were probably loaned from Harvard to Ralph Dexter for his research for a biography of Putnam.

Related Peabody Museum Collections:

  1. Putnam, F.W. (Frederic Ward), (1839-1915). Collection of Negatives, 1887-1888
  2. Putnam, Frederic W. Putnam, Peabody Museum Director Records
Putnam, Frederic Ward (1839-1915), Papers, bulk 1855-1935 : A Finding Aid
Peabody Museum Archives

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Museum Archives Repository

The Peabody Museum Archives contains primary source materials that reflect the Museum’s archaeological and ethnographic research and fieldwork since its founding in 1866. Archival collections contain photographs, documents, papers, and records of enduring value that were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or other related entities. The collections also document the history or provenience, as well as the creation of many of the Museum’s artifact collections. To learn more about research visits at the Peabody Museum, please see

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