WHAT THE HECK IS THE ROBERT S. PEABODY INSTITUTE OF ARCHAEOLOGY AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO WITH FLORIDA?
We are excited to welcome, virtually, to our October 12 meeting, the eighth director of the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Ryan Wheeler.
The Peabody name is synonymous with outstanding museums, but has created confusion. There are, in fact, four “Peabody” museums. The larger institutions—like Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, or Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History—have long connections to Florida archaeology. Both Irving Rouse and John M. Goggin were affiliated with Yale’s Peabody, and Jeffries Wyman made some of the Harvard Peabody’s earliest collections in Florida. The Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology is not part of either Yale or Harvard, but was founded in 1901 at Phillips Academy, a private high school in Andover, Massachusetts. Ripley and Adelaide Bullen began their archaeological careers here in the 1940s before moving to Florida. Clarence Bloomfield Moore, renowned in the Southeast for his antiquarian digging, made a large gift of Florida items early in the Peabody’s history, including many pottery vessels not illustrated in his publications. The Peabody houses other Florida collections, including those made by Fred Luce, Howard Torrey, and James Hardy Ropes. Today the Peabody is engaged in educational programming and repatriation, and recently completed inventory of its extensive collection, which spans much of the Americas and includes items, and photographic and archival materials of archaeologists like Alfred V. Kidder and Richard “Scotty” MacNeish.
At the Peabody, Dr. Wheeler has focused on collections, education, and repatriation. In 2017, Ryan co-founded the Journal of Archaeology & Education, the only academic journal devoted to the intersection of these fields. Prior to moving to Massachusetts, Ryan was Florida’s State Archaeologist and a past editor of The Florida Anthropologist. Happily, he has maintained a connection to Florida archaeology, recently co-editing "Iconography and Wetsite Archaeology of Florida’s Watery Realms".