The collection consists primarily of a portfolio of 92 drawings of Davis' collection of artifacts and related documentation. The collection also contains letters to Davis, notes, and drawings relating to Peruvian, Mexican, and Central American artifacts, as well as drawings by Ephraim G. Squier presumably used as references for some of the drawings in the portfolio.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
Edwin Hamilton Davis (1811-1888) was an archaeologist and physician who is best known for his evcavation of the mounds in the Mississippi Valley and his collection of prehistoric artifacts.
Davis graduated from Cincinnati Medical College in 1838, and practiced medicine in Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1850, he joined the faculty of New York Medical College. He also served as an editor of the American Medical Monthly.
A self-taught archaeologist, in 1836 Davis aided Charles Whittlesey in his explorations of mounds in Ohio. From 1845 to 1847 with Ephraim G. Squier, Davis surveyed nearly one hundred earthworks, including the Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio and the Mound City Group in Chillicothe, Ohio. The results of these surveys were published as "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley" in the Smithsonian's first publication, Contributions to Knowledge, v. 1. In 1854 he delivered a series of lectures on archaeology at the Lowell Institute Boston, and also in Brooklyn and New York City. He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1858. Davis gathered a large collection of mound relics, which became part of the collection at the Blackmore Museum in Salisbury (UK). The collection was acquired by the British Museum in 1931.
Davis died in 1888 in New York City and was buried at the Grandview Cemetery, Chillicothe in Ohio.
The portfolio was exhibited by the Florida Archaeology Society and Tampa Bay Museum in 1937.
The British Museum holds Davis' collection of artifacts, many of which are illustrated in the portfolio.
Consists of an inventory of the portfolio Sketches of Momuments and Antiques..., as well as brochures from an exhibit of the portfolio held by the Florida Archaeological Society and Tampa Bay Museum in 1937.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
MS 3146 Edwin Hamilton Davis papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution