Presentation Title

A Tale of Mice and Men: The WPA, the LSU Indian Room Museum, and the Emergence of Professional Archaeology in the U.S. South

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Abstract or Description

Federal relief funds distributed during the Great Depression provided unprecedented support for archaeology in the United States, resulting in a new understanding of Native American lifeways in the Southeast. Ultimately, these funds led to robust archaeological studies in the state of Louisiana and the establishment of an interdisciplinary Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University (LSU). The knowledge gained from excavations was shared with the public via the creation of a museum, affectionately known as the Indian Room, housed in the Department of Geography and Anthropology. In this presentation based on the publication in the Southeastern Geographer, we relate the story of the development of the museum, answering a growing call in the discipline to pay more attention to museum geographies. Utilizing the disorderly archive approach of Hayden Lorimer and Chris Philo, we also discuss how the depression-relief projects led to the emergence of professional archaeology, the resultant formation of a department at Louisiana State University, and the ongoing transformation of the museum.


American Association of Geographers Annual Conference (AAG)


Chicago, IL