William Henry Holmes
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|William Henry Holmes|
William Henry Holmes, c.1918
|Born||December 1, 1846
Harrison County, Ohio
|Died||April 20, 1933
Royal Oak, Michigan
|Resting place||Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.|
|Fields||Anthropology, Archaeology, Art, Scientific Illustration, Cartography, Curator, Geology|
|Institutions||Smithsonian Institution, Field Museum of Natural History|
|Known for||Scientific Illustration of the American West; Role in Controversy over the Antiquity of Man in the Americas|
William Henry Holmes (December 1, 1846 – April 20, 1933) was an American explorer, anthropologist, archaeologist, artist, scientific illustrator, cartographer, geologist and museum curator and director.
Born near the headwaters of Short Creek in Harrison County, Ohio, Holmes graduated from McNeely Normal College in 1870 and briefly went into teaching. In 1871, he went to Washington, D.C., to study art under Theodore Kaufmann. His talent soon came to the attention of the scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, notably Fielding Bradford Meek. In 1872, Holmes became an artist/topographer with the government survey of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden. He first trip out West was to the newly established Yellowstone National Park. During the 1870s, Holmes gained a national reputation as a scientific illustrator, cartographer, and pioneering archaeologist and geologist--his work on the laccolith influenced Grove Karl Gilbert's own work on the same. In the field, Holmes worked closely with the photographer William H. Jackson and back in Washington he helped produce Hayden's great achievement, the Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado, And Portions of Adjacent Territory (1877, 1881). After the Hayden Survey was absorbed into the U.S. Geological Survey in 1879, Holmes went to Munich, Germany, to further his art studies under Frank Duveneck and to take lessons in "museum making" from Adolphe B. Meyer of Dresden's Anthropology Museum. On Holmes's return to the U.S., he was hired by the Geological Survey and assigned to Clarence Dutton as a geologist and illustrator. Holmes illustrated the atlas for Dutton's Tertiary History of the Grand Canyon District (1882); his triptych panorama of the Grand Canyon from Point Sublime is a masterpiece of American scientific illustration. He was also a noted mountain climber, and a peak in Yellowstone National Park, Mount Holmes, was named in his honor. In 1875, Holmes began studying the remains of the Ancestral Pueblo culture in the San Juan River region of Utah. His models of ancient Indian ruins were a sensation at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia. Holmes became particularly interested in prehistoric pottery and shell art, producing the published works of "Art in Shell of the American Indians (1883)" and "Pottery of the Ancient Pueblos (1886)". He expanded these studies to include textiles, and he became well known as an expert in both ancient and existing arts produced by Native Americans of the Southwest.
Holmes left the Geological Survey in 1889 to become an archaeologist with the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology. He left Washington temporarily, from 1894 to 1897, to serve as curator of anthropology at the Field Columbian Museum in Chicago. He returned to the Smithsonian in 1897 to serve as head curator of anthropology at the U.S. National Museum. From 1902 to 1909 he served as Chief (i.e. director) of the Bureau of American Ethnology, succeeding John Wesley Powell. During this period he studied the Etowah Indian Mounds of the Mississippian culture in Georgia, and in 1903, he published his Synthesis of Pottery. In 1910, he became chairman of the Division of Anthropology of the U.S. National Museum. In 1920, Holmes became the director of National Gallery of Art (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum), where he assembled exhibits of Indian arts from the Northwest Coast. He published many works on archæological and anthropological subjects. He edited geological publications, including Hayden's Atlas of Colorado and the eleventh and twelfth reports of the Geological Survey. His books include: "Handbook of Aboriginal American Antiquities" (1919).
Of Holmes's many contributions and accomplishments, he is probably best known for the role he played in the controversy over the antiquity of humans in the Americas. Holmes insisted that claims for the early presence of humans should be subjected to the most rigorous testing. His position on this matter had a healthy and conservative influence on what is one of the most fundamental questions in American archaeology.
Published works by Holmes include:
- "Ancient Art of the Province of Chiriqui, Colombia [Panama"]: Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1884-1885, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1888, 187 pages
- Prehistoric Textile Art of Eastern United States: Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1891-1892, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1896 pages 3–46.
- Natural History of Flaked Stone Implements. In Memoirs of the International Congress of Anthropology, edited by C. S. Wake, pp. 120–139. Schulte, Chicago, Il. (1894)
- Archaeological Studies among the Ancient Cities of Mexico (1895)
- Stone Implements of the Potomac-Chesapeake Tidewater Province. In Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report, pp. 13–152. vol. 15. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (1897)
- Random Records of a Lifetime, 1846-1931: Cullings, largely personal, from the scrap heap of three score years and ten, devoted to science, literature and art. 1932. Description: 21 v. in 22. illus. (mounted, part col.) clippings, letters. 27 cm. Held in the American Art Portrait Gallery Rare Book Collection.
Panorama from Point Sublime, illustration of the Grand Canyon by Holmes, published in Clarence E. Dutton, The Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District (1882), sheet XV.
- Fernlund, Kevin Jon. William Henry Holmes and the Rediscovery of the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8263-2127-5.
- Gleach, Frederic W. (2002). "William Henry Holmes, 1909–1910". In Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach (eds.). Celebrating a Century of the American Anthropological Association: Presidential Portraits. Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 13–15. ISBN 0-8032-1720-X. OCLC 49225637.
- Hough, Walter (October–December 1933). "William Henry Holmes" (PDF online reproduction at the AAA). American Anthropologist New Series (Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association and affiliated societies) 35 (4): 752–764. doi:10.1525/aa.1933.35.4.02a00110. ISSN 0002-7294. OCLC 1479294.
- Swanton, John R. (1936). "Biographical Memoir of William Henry Holmes, 1846–1933" (PDF online facsimile at the NAS). Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 17 - Tenth Memoir. Bibliography compiled by Ella Leary (Presented to the Academy at the Autumn meeting, 1935. ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. ISSN 0077-2933. OCLC 37424036.
- Willey, Gordon R.; Meltzer, David J.; Dunnell, Robert C. (Spring 1994). "[Review of] The Archaeology of William Henry Holmes by David J. Meltzer; Robert C. Dunnell". Journal of Field Archaeology (Boston, MA: Association for Field Archaeology, Boston University) 21 (1): 119–123. doi:10.2307/530250. ISSN 0093-4690. JSTOR 530250. OCLC 8560818.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Henry Holmes.|
- William Henry Holmes page at the Smithsonian
- Works by William Henry Holmes at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about William Henry Holmes in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Holmes' 1895 Monuments of Yucatan, at Reed College website
- Works by William Henry Holmes. Archived at the Internet Archive.