Ohio History Journal

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Warren King Moorehead

Warren King Moorehead

And His Papers






The enduring love of Warren King Moorehead (1866-1939)

may be summed up in one word: Indians. When not busied with

their ancient remains he was struggling with the manifold problems

they face in this century. Penobscot and Pueblo alike shared his

attention. When (through the generosity of Ludwig King Moore-

head and Singleton Peabody Moorehead) the Ohio Historical

Society acquired his papers, it was principally  because he had con-

tributed so much to the development of archaeology in this region.

Moorehead's papers, mirroring his career, are national in scope and

social and political in import, passing the borders of Ohio and of

archaeology. But of these wider things, more later.

Moorehead's first interest was archaeology. He spent nearly all

his life at it, and, like the late Henry Shetrone, was once buried

alive in line of duty. He started digging at the age of twelve,

around Xenia, Ohio (his home town despite the fact that he had

been born in Siena, Italy, of American parents). In among the

letters and diaries now in the Society's charge lay an Indian bone--

his first find. Sentiment saved this first trophy, but not some later

ones. Moorehead advertised and sold the artifacts and remains he

found, and bought others. In those days the line between scientist

and curio merchant was thin. Several prominent archaeologists of

that generation began as collectors or dealers. Moorehead was

tempted by success to be a dealer, or mound-miner. His father

helped resolve his adolescent doubts on this subject and sent him

to Denison University in 1884, whence he emerged no longer com-

mercial but academic. Long afterwards Moorehead was himself to


* John W. Weatherford is manuscripts librarian of the Ohio Historical Society.