Ohio Hopewell: Ancient Crossroads of the American Midwest


The Field Museum houses one of the largest archaeological collections of Hopewell Culture artifacts in the world. This collection—primarily from Warren K. Moorehead’s 1891–1892 excavation at the Hopewell Mound Group near Chillicothe, Ohio—dates to the origins of the museum itself. Moorehead’s excavations were undertaken for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, an event that brought together anthropological materials from around the world and later resulted in the founding of the Field Museum of Natural History.

In 2015, our “Ohio Hopewell: Prehistoric Crossroads of the American Midwest” project was funded through a Humanities without Walls, Global Midwest Pilot Grant. The goal of this pilot project was to provide significant time depth for the concept of a “Global Midwest” by illuminating a two-thousand year history of large-scale convergence and cultural influence rooted in the American Midwest. The data collected and conveyed here represent our initial steps to digitize Ohio Hopewell legacy resources.

This collaboration between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and the Field Museum of Natural History combines institutional resources in the form of museum collections, archives, and digital humanities computing. Our work began in January of 2015 and has resulted in a variety of digital products available through this web portal (published in February of 2016). Through this project, we have digitized and aggregated hundreds of digital assets to make this phenomenal Hopewell archaeological collection publicly accessible. Some of these resources were produced through the considerable efforts of Essenpreis and Nash, others were created through the efforts of this project. We anticipate these documents, inventories, and photographs will facilitate research both within the museum and with outside scholars and institutes. Additionally, we hope the resources presented here will foster interest in the Hopewell Culture of the Ohio River Valley and serve as a catalyst for future work to create a larger, more comprehensive, repository.

Project Team:

Carrie Heitman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Project Lead

William Parkinson, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Field Museum, Co-Director

Krystal Britt, University of Illinois at Chicago, Graduate Research Assistant

Jamie Kelly, The Field Museum, Collections Manager

James Brown, Northwestern University, Project Advisor