Charles H. Fairbanks was the chair of the UF Anthropology Department from 1963 to 1970. During his tenure as chair, the department initiated its M.A. and Ph.D. programs. As a southeastern and historical archaeologist he worked on such sites as Ocmulgee, Fort Frederica and Fort Center. He is the namesake of the Annual Fairbanks Armadillo Roast.
Bibliography of Charles Herron Fairbanksclick to expand
1938 The Kirksville Site. The Missouri Archeologist 4(2):np.
1940 Classification Problems of Southeastern Archeology in Relation to Work in the Tennessee Valley. Readings of the Society for Georgia Archaeology 2.
1940 “Salt Pans” from the Southeast. American Antiquity 6(1):65-67.
1941 Indoor Archeology in Prehistoric Cultures of the Southeast. National Park Service Popular Studies Series, History, 4. Washington. pp. 27-32.
1941 Hunting 500 Years Ago. Regional Review. National Park Service Region one, 6(1-2):3-6. Richmond.
1942 The Taxonomic Position of Stallings Island, Georgia. American Antiquity 7(3):223-231.
1946 The Kolomoki Mound Group, Early County, Georgia. American Antiquity 11(4):258-260.
1946 The Leake Mounds, Bartow County, Georgia. American Antiquity 12(2):126.
1946 The Macon Earthlodge. American Antiquity 12(2):94-108.
1948 Fort Frederica National Monument. Emory University Quarterly 4(1):8-14.
1949 A General Survey of Southeastern Prehistory. In The Florida Indian and his Neighbors. Winter Park. pp. 55-76.
1950 A Preliminary Segregation of Etowah, Savannah and Lamar. American Antiquity 16(2):142-151.
1952 Creek and Pre-Creek. In The Archeology of Eastern United States, edited by J.B. Griffin. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. pp. 285-300.
1953 The Protohistoric Creek of Georgia. Southeastern Archeological Conference Newsletter 3(3):21-22.
1954 1953 Excavations at Site 9 HL 64, Buford Reservoir, Georgia. Florida State University Studies 16:1-26.
1955 The Abercrombie Mound, Russell County, Alabama. Early Georgia 2(1):13-19.
1956 The Excavation of the Hawkins-Davidson Houses, Frederica National Monument, St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Georgia Historical Quarterly 40(3):213-229.
1956 Archeology of the Funeral Mound, Ocmulgee National Monument Georgia. National Park Service Archeological Research Series Number Three. Washington, D.C.
1957 Ethnological Report, Florida Seminole. 300 pp. Mimeographed.
1957 Ethnological Report on Royce Area 79 (Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee) 250 pp. Mimeographed.
1958 Ocmulgee Check Stamped Pottery. Prehistoric Pottery of the Eastern United States. University of Michigan Museum Publication, Ann Arbor.
1958 Some Problems in the Origin of Creek Pottery. The Florida Anthropologist 11(2):53-64.
1958 Anthropology and the Segregation Problem. In The Negro in American Society. Florida State University Studies 28:1-18. Tallahassee
1959 Additional Elliot’s Point Complex Sites. The Florida Anthropologist 12(4):95-100.
1961 Comment on Joffre L. Coe’s “Cherokee Archaeology.” In Symposium on Cherokee and Iroquois Culture. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 180:63-65. Washington.
1962 The Check-Stamped Series. Southeastern Archeological Conference Newsletter 9(1):10-16.
1962 A Peripherally Punched Card System for Pottery Types. Southeastern Archeological Conference Bulletin 8:24-28.
1962 European Ceramics from the Cherokee Capital of New Echota. Southeastern Archeological Conference Newsletter 9(1):10-16.
1962 Late Creek Sites in Central Alabama. Southeastern Archeological Conference Newsletter 9(1):
1962 The Contribution of the Amateur. The Florida Anthropologist 15(1):13-20.
1962 Excavations at Horseshoe Bend, Alabama. The Florida Anthropologist 15(2):41-56.
1962 A Colono-Indian Ware Milk Pitcher. The Florida Anthropologist 15(4):103-106.
1963 Defendant’s requested finding of fact, objections to Petitioners proposed findings, and brief. Before the Indian Claims Commission, Seminole Indians vs. The United States, Dockets # 73 and 151. Summary of Fairbanks’ testimony pp. 29-67. U.S. Department of Justice.
1964 Ethnohistoric Report on the Biloxi, Pascagoula and Adjacent Tribes. U.S. Department of Justice.
1964 (editor with I. Rouse and W. Sturtevant) Indian and Spaniard: Selected Writings of John Goggin. Coral Gables: University of Miami Press.
1964 Early Occupations of Northwestern Florida. Southeastern Archaeological Conference Bulletin 12(1):27-30.
1964 Underwater Historic Sites on the St. Marks River. The Florida Anthropologist 17(2):449.
1965 Proposed Antiquities Law. The Florida Anthropologist 18(1):63-64.
1965 Gulf Complex Subsistence Economy. Southeastern Archeological Conference Bulletin 13(2):57-62.
1965 The Paleo-Indian Era: Distribution of the Finds. Southeastern Archeological Conference Bulletin 13(2):11-12.
1965 Excavations at the Fort Walton Temple Mound. The Florida Anthropologist 18(4):239-264.
1965 Florida’s New Antiquities Law. The Florida Anthropologist 18(3):155-160.
1966 A Feldspar Inlaid Ceramic Type from Spanish Colonial Sites. American Antiquity 31(3):43032.
1968 Early Spanish Colonial Beads. Conference on Historic Sites Archeology Papers 2:3-22.
1968 The Archeological ConTRibution to Urban Studies. In Urban Anthropology: Research Perspectives and Strategies edited by E. Eddy. Southern Anthropological Society Proceedings. 2. Athens, pp. 16-23.
1968 Florida Coin Beads. The Florida Anthropologist 21(4):102-105.
1970 Archeology and History of Coastal Georgia. In Conference on the Future of the Marshlands and Islands of Georgia. Edited by D. Maney, F. Marland and C. West. Atlanta. pp. 355.
1971 with R. Ascher. Excavation of a Slave Cabin, Georgia, U.S.A. Historical Archaeology 5:3-17.
1972 The Cultural Significance of Spanish Ceramics. In Ceramics in America, edited by I. Quimby. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. pp. 141-174.
1974 Comment on “Red, Black and White, Ethnohistory in the Southeast.” Proceedings of the Southern Anthropological Society 5:55-67.
1974 Ethnohistorical Report on the Florida Indians Commission Findings, Indians Claims Commission. New York: Garland Press.
1975 The Kingsley Slave cabins in Duval County, Florida. Conference on Historic Sites Archeology Papers (1972) 30-59.
1975 Spanish Artifacts at the Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island. Conference on Historic Sites Archaeology Papers 1974:30-59.
1976 From Missionary to Mestizo: Changing Culture of Eighteenth Century St. Augustine. In Eighteenth Century Florida and the Caribbean. Edited by S. Proctor. Gainesville:University Presses of Florida. pp. 88-99.
1976 Spaniards, Planters, Ships and Slaves: Historical Archaeology in Florida and Georgia. Archaeology 29(3):164-172.
1976 Backyard Archaeology as a Research Strategy. Conference on Historic Sites Archaeology Papers, 1976:133-139.
1978 The Ethnoarchaeology of the Florida Seminole. In Tacachale: Essays on the Indians of Florida and Southeastern Georgia during the Historic Period edited by J.T. Milanich and S. Proctor. Gainesville:University Presses of Florida. pp.120-149.
1980 The Archaeology of Slavery. Early Man.
1980 Florida Archaeology (with J.T. Milanich). New York: Academic Press.
1983 Historical Archaeological Implications of Recent Investigations. Geoscience and Man23:17-26.
1984 The Plantation Archaeology of the Southeastern Coast. Historical Archaeology 18:1-14.
Published in: Historical Archaeology, 1985, 19:122-124.
Reprinted here with the permission of The Society for Historical Archaeology.
Memorial of Charles Herron Fairbanks, 1913-1984
Charles H. Fairbanks, one of the country’s pioneers in historical archaeology, died in Gainesville, Florida, on 7 July 1984. He had a significant influence on a generation of historical archaeologists through his initiation of the archaeology of disenfranchised groups, through his strong commitment to rigorous graduate training, and through his effective integration of science and humanism in archaeology.read more
While at Chicago, he was a student of Fay Cooper-Cole, who sent him to work on the Tennessee Valley Authority archaeological projects from 1937-1938. It was there that Charles Fairbanks began his long and distinguished career in southeastern archaeology. After graduating with the AB degree from Chicago in 1939, he left for Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia, where he worked as an archaeologist until 1943. During his five years at Macon, Charles Fairbanks played an important role in the development of the rigorous and painstaking field methodology that was an important contribution of the depression era Works Progress Administration archaeological programs. He subsequently brought this precision to the historical archaeology of the southeastern United States and to a generation of students in that region.
The years between 1943 and 1945 were spent in the United States Army, and in 1946 Charles Fairbanks resumed his archaeological career as Superintendent of Fort Frederica National Monument, Georgia. At Frederica, his excavations at the Hawkins-Davidson houses were an important stage in the development of recovery and interpretive methods in historical archaeology. Although he left Frederica in 1948 to resume his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, his involvement in Frederica archaeology both directly and through his students, continued throughout his life.
At Michigan, Charles Fairbanks studied with James B. Griffin and became part of the Michigan-trained group of archaeologists who subsequently were to become very influential in the development of both historic and prehistoric archaeology in the southeastern United States. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1956, he began his teaching career at Florida State University. While at FSU he developed his interest in Spanish colonial archaeology, an area in which he was to become a leading figure. In 1963, Charles Fairbanks left Florida State to assume the position of chairman of the Anthropology Department at the University of Florida. During his eight years as chair, he oversaw the initiation of M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Anthropology, the growth of the faculty from three to 11 members, and the establishment of the department as one of the major graduate programs in the country for southeastern prehistory and historical archaeology. During this time he initiated and developed active programs or research in Spanish colonial archaeology and the ethnohistory of Florida’s native groups, he pioneered the archaeology of slavery and of plantations and introduced the concept of “backyard archaeology: in historic sites. In 1976 he was named Distinguished Service Professor of the State University system of Florida and retired as Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in 1983.
His early involvement in historical archaeology is reflected in his participation in professional societies. He was a founding member of the Society for Historical Archaeology, was on the first Board of Directors, was the Society’s fourth president, and the first recipient of the J.C. Harrington award for outstanding contribution to the field of historical archaeology.
As a teacher, Charles Fairbanks directed more than 20 M.A. students and 11 Ph.D. students. His style was a combination of personal concern, rigorous standards, staunch loyalty, and occasional towering rages. It mesmerized his students and inspired great affection as well as a healthy respect for both his scholarship and his opinions. The annual Charles H. Fairbanks Armadillo Roast, which celebrates his birthday, is in its fifteenth year and is a major social event and academic homecoming for a considerable number of historical archaeologists.
Charles Fairbanks was a thorough and uncompromising scholar, as well as an uncompromising man of principle. He was inherently fair, giving equal consideration to colleagues and students, to hired workers and interested amateurs, and to men and women. Once committed, he could be relied upon completely as an ally and supporter, but he had little patience for bureaucratic red tape, or for what he considered to be a restrictive or unnecessary formality. Both true and apocryphal tales of Chuck’s uninhibited dealings with red tape and formalities are swapped regularly in more than one archaeological field camp. He was a man of direct physical action who was also ceaselessly observant of and curious about the natural and cultural worlds. To those of us fortunate enough to have been his students, he gave a truly holistic and anthropological view of the world and its workings.
Chuck is survived by his wife of 43 years, Evelyn Timmerman Fairbanks, a son Charles, daughter Marie, one grandchild, and a great many colleagues and students who miss his help and opinions, and who continue to be inspired by his example and his work.
Copyright 1985 by The Society for Historical Archaeology
Published in: Historical Archaeology, 1985, 19:122-124.
Reprinted here with the permission of The Society for Historical Archaeology.
Interview of Charles H. Fairbanks by Robert Wilson, 1982
Reprinted here with the permission of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.
University of Florida’s Oral History Project
Charles H. Fairbanks UF 125ABC
Interviewer: Robert Wilson
Place of Interview: University of Florida
Date of Interview: September 16, 1982
Charles H. Fairbanks was born in 1913 in Bainbridge, New York, one of four children to Lewis and Henrietta Fairbanks. Mr. Fairbanks attended Swarthmore College and the University of Chicago, graduating from the latter in 1939. This interview concerns Fairbanks career as a prominent Florida archeologist and anthropologist.
While going to school in the 1930s at Chicago, Fairbanks also worked for the federal government as an archeologist. He worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and for the Park Service at Kennesaw Mountain National Park, Fort Frederica National Monument, and Ocmulgee National Monument. During these years, he was forming a southeastern archeology society and writing several articles and books as well as raising a family.
From 1954 to 1963, Fairbanks was a professor at Florida State University. He then transferred to the University of Florida where he remained until his retirement. During these years, Fairbanks established graduate programs at both schools and directed the graduate work of many students. He continued to write and publish.
In the last part of the interview, Fairbanks talks about important individuals, students and professors, in archeology and anthropology, who he has known. He gives his opinion as to their professional capabilities and personal characteristics. Dr. Fairbanks died in 1984.
Fairbanks: I was born in Bainbridge, New York, June 3, 1913. Bainbridge is a small rural town on the Susquehanna River about midway between Oneonta, New York and Binghamton, New York. It’s on the western edge of the Catskills, a very rural town of twelve hundred population.
Wilson: Was it an industrialized area fairly early on?
Fairbanks: Well, industrialized in the New England sense. That area had been settled shortly after the Revolution by individuals displaced from the upstate Vermont area that had been ceded to Vermont after first being claimed by New York. So New York had kept its inhabitants and they had originally called the town Jericho, and it got a bad reputation being Jericho. The meeting house had mysteriously burned, and so they decided to change the name. And I was selected the commander of the constitution, old Ironsides, Commodore Bainbridge, as the name.
Wilson: What was your father’s name?
Fairbanks: Lewis B. Fairbanks.
Wilson: And what did he do?
Fairbanks: He was a railway express agent in Bainbridge.
Wilson: And your mother?
Fairbanks: My mother was Henrietta Herron. She was a descendant of the Dutch settlers in the Cherry Valley up in the Mohawk Valley area between Schenectady and all that.
Wilson: What did she do?
Fairbanks: She had been a school teacher before marriage.
Wilson: And then just a housewife?
Fairbanks: Yes, though she periodically taught again in the rural schools around Bainbridge until they were consolidated into one school in each township. Upstate New York had a township system. Then she became the postmistress in Bainbridge about the time I went to college. I graduated in June 1931, and went to Swarthmore the following September for a year, and then transferred to Chicago in the fall of 1932. These were the Depression years, of course, and things were pretty rough.
Wilson: Did you have any brothers and sisters?
Fairbanks: One brother and two sisters.
Wilson: Are they still living?
Fairbanks: My brother, who was younger than I, was killed in Battle of the Bulge in France in World War II. Both my sisters are living, and have retired. My older sisters is in the higher education administration in New Jersey, and she’s retired, and gone back to Bainbridge. She has built a house there, and my younger sister was a librarian at Princeton, and she has retired at Princeton.
Wilson: So when did you first become interested in anthropology?
Fairbanks: Well, while I was still in high school. I would imagine my sophomore year in high school. Definitely, before 1929, because I remember that I was already interested when the stock market crash came in ’29. No, my mother and father had been interested in botany, and particularly native orchids, and I had become somewhat blase about their natural science bent. It didn’t seem to have much pertinence to anything except collecting plants. And on a visit to a stand of native orchids, one of the few places this particular orchid grew in the eastern United States, we had been met and taken to a site by an individual, Willard E. Yeager, who had a collection of Indian artifacts. It was mostly New York state Iroquois and earlier material, but some southwestern material, and he lent me a copy of Lewis H. Morgans, League of the Iroquois. I realized that it was a possible science here and that it wasn’t just collecting things and descriptive material. I still have that copy of Lewis Morgan.
Wilson: Rare edition, almost.
Fairbanks: No, it’s not a distinctive edition. It was just a regular edition that has gone through many editions. It’s a classic.
Wilson: Where did you go to high school?
Fairbanks: In Bainbridge, New York. There were eight members in my graduating class. It was a small school.
Wilson: So there wasn’t anybody at high school really that influenced you?
Wilson: It’s interesting. John Griffin talks about the same sort of general background of his parents’ interests. His mother was in the garden clubs in Florida, and being a general all-around renaissance person got him interested in anthropology and archeology. Just seems like there was a sign of the times at that point.
Fairbanks: I think so. I think general progression from natural science to the science of man, the natural science of the twenties. George McLaughlin rewarding, that is, it was just descriptive.
Wilson: So you spent one year at Swarthmore?
Wilson: Did you have any kind of a major there?
Fairbanks: Well, my family thought it would be nice if I’d be a chemist, but I didn’t really show much ability to pour liquids and so on.
Wilson: So then you transferred to Chicago?
Fairbanks: I had already developed an interest in archeology, and began pressuring the family so I could become an archeologist. Swarthmore had no anthropology or sociology at that time. But Chicago did, and it was in the process of, in my opinion, becoming the leading anthropological school.
Wilson: Is that why you picked Chicago over say, Columbia? Was Columbia started at that point?
Fairbanks: Columbia was going. Dean of men at Swarthmore advised me to try Chicago. He thought that the new plan at Chicago had just started under Hutchins, and I think what Dean Blanchard primarily informed me about was the new plan at Chicago. But he did have some information about the fact that they had a strong ecology program.
Wilson: What was the concept of the new plan?
Fairbanks: Well, the new plan was an organized curriculum which involved survey courses during the first two years in all four fields of knowledge, the classical Quadrivium, and so on. And then specialization in the last two years of the undergraduate program in one of those fields, and so on. It also involved other innovations. You had the survey courses and you passed a comprehensive, exam in each of the subjects: biological science, social science, economics, and so on. You could take the exam whenever you felt ready to pass it. So you didn’t necessarily have to take all the courses; you could proceed at your own rate, and increasingly a number of students did. This was the so-called new plan which was the return, in some respects, to the medieval structured higher education. Robert Maynard Hutchins, a very young new president of the University of Chicago, had inaugurated it. He also included the hundred great books under Mortimer Adler.
Wilson: I want to digress for a second to resolve something in my notes, and then we can get back to the program at Chicago. I’ve got some notes down here that you possibly had seen some excavations in your high school years. With Richie and…
Fairbanks: Richie, yes. I guess this was probably in 1930 or ’31. Richie had done some very sketchy excavations. I’d now list them at Bainbridge, and I had done some salvage work myself. I’d been collecting Indian relics on plowed fields, at one of the sites that I regularly collected, the railroad had dug a ditch along the edge of the railroad property, and it cut through the trash pit in which there was two nested cord– marked, cord-wrapped stick marked pots. And they both showed extremely clear coil fractures. And when I got to Chicago I found out from Thorne Deuel that there was an argument among North American archeologists about was North American Indian. It centered around the coil or the scrape technique, and this very clearly indicated that it was coiled. That was my first publication in 1935, on the occurrence of coil pottery in New York State.
Wilson: Ceramics has gone a long way since then hasn’t it?
Fairbanks: Well, there’s an indication of how little we knew about the archeology of the eastern United States as of the 1930s. We didn’t know much of any of it.
Wilson: Was that the first time you had met MacNeish? Was he working on the project?
Fairbanks: No, I didn’t meet with Scotty until the late 1930s.
Wilson: Was that in Chicago?
Fairbanks: Yes, at Chicago. Though he was born and raised in Binghamton, which was thirty–five miles from home. But again, there weren’t any local archeological societies, so you didn’t know who was doing what.
Wilson: I want to hit on that briefly. You thought that the new program at Chicago was far better than anything else. Were you sold on that?
Fairbanks: Well, yes. I think it’s a good idea, and it basically has been very widely adopted here at the University of Florida; the breadth requirements on the A.B. level are a modification of the Chicago new plan. Previous to that, the general pattern was that some schools, such as Swarthmore, had a very structured, very rigid set of required courses. Other schools had almost complete freedom without any required courses, and even at the highly structured schools, there wasn’t the requirement of the quadrivium or the four basic fields of human knowledge. So If you were majoring in Germanic languages, for instance, you could get an A.B. in Germanic languages and nothing else. So I think it was a good idea, though what I really liked at Chicago was the department of anthropology under Fay-Cooper Cole. It was a good department, a broad department, and a very eclectic department. Fay-Cooper Cole was trained in the Boaz school of ethnology primarily and had done his field in southeast Asia and the Philippines.
Wilson: So he had come from Columbia?
Fairbanks: Yes, but he was involved in upgrading archeology. He had decided several years before that archeology ought to improve its field technique, which up to that point was practically non–existent. And in the Chicago field schools and my years at Chicago, this was at the Kincaid site. In addition, there was the star of the department, Radcliffe Brown, and the functionalist or as Radcliffe Brown called it, the science of society. He was an illuminary. No doubt about it. A man of tremendous intellect. The easiest man to take notes from of any college professor I’ve ever had. He wore a monocle and when he was reading from his notes, the monocle was screwed into his right eye, and then when he wanted to comment, he would look up, drop the monocle, and catch it with his left hand and comment. And that’s when you start taking notes madly because that was the meat of it. And he might drone on for ten minutes or so, then the monocle dropped and he had something to say. Robert Redfield was also there, and probably more intelligent, more intellectual than Radcliffe Brown. I didn’t see William Lloyd Warner too much as I was not an ethnology concentrate, though I had courses under both Radcliffe Brown and Redfield. I never had any courses under Warner. He was involved in the Newberry Court Yankee Town investigation at the time. Thorne Deuel was number two man in archeology; Thorne and I got along fine. Some people had trouble with his somewhat military attitude. He was a graduate of West Point.
Wilson: I imagine that helped organize field schools though.
Fairbanks: Yes. They were a bit military, and in the thirties, there were a lot of people beginning to object to regimentation in any form.
Wilson: Sometimes that keeps things straight. It was a fairly small department though wasn’t it?
Fairbanks: Yes. Cole, Radcliffe Brown, Redfield, Warner, Deuel, and Harry Hoijer was the linguist and the general adviser to undergraduate students. I think that was the extent of the faculty in 1932. No, Fred Eggan was there. I think that was about it. So it was six or seven faculty members, and particularly the archeologists. I think virtually all of the people who were prominent in archeology of eastern North America, and east of the Rockies from the 1930s to the present, either served at least one year or more on Kincaid Field School, or were students of people who were at Kincaid, and most of them were students who got their doctorates at Chicago. Jess Jennings, Pinky Harrington, [Jean Carl], Alexander Spoeher. Could name virtually everybody, and then a whole lot of people simply had attended one or more field schools. Dave DeJarnette and Joffre Coe had been field school members, though had not had any extensive courses at Chicago.
Wilson: Stu Neitzel [Robert Stewart Neitzel] was there at that…
Fairbanks: Neitzel was primarily Nebraska.
Wilson: He got his undergraduate degree with Eiseley [Loren] at Nebraska, but he may have been there one year. I thought it was more that he went to Chicago, but it might…
Fairbanks: I don’t remember seeing Neitzel at Chicago. I don’t remember seeing him until I got to TVA in 1937.
Wilson: I think he was there because I remember talking with him about it. He was roommates with Jess Jennings for a year up there, and then when Jennings went to TVA, Stu followed shortly thereafter.
Fairbanks: That may well enough have been. Dr. Cole was one of the principal instigators for getting the 1935 Historic Sites Act passed, which passed at the same time as the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, and was in effect, geared to TVA archeology. This was in the depths of the Depression and one of the objectives of the federal relief agencies was to salvage archeology in the reservoir areas being inundated by TVA. I don’t think Jess Jennings had been involved in the Norris basin which was the first of the TVA basins but had been director of the University of Tennessee excavations in the Chickamauga Basin for a year or so. Then Neltzel, and Chuck Nash, and Georg Neumann was there. Then Jess in January 1937 had been asked to go with Kidder to Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala. And while I had not yet received my A.B. degree, I’d been going to school a quarter, and then running out of money, and working for a quarter, and then going back to school. Dr. Cole, in fact, told me that I was going down to the TVA, and that Chicago had to be represented down there. I went down there. The first part of that winter, Neitzel was working on another site, and I took over the Yarnell site that Jennings had been excavating; it was a large late Mississippian site. And then I think in early spring we moved to Hiwassee Island which Tom Lewish, and eventually Madeleine Kneberg published. Madeleine Kneberg was a Chicago product. I think Lewis had been to the Kincaid Field School. Chuck Nash had been to Chicago, though I don’t know how much. I don’t remember seeing him there before. But again, he had been at field school, and generally, they are a week, or a weekend, or a long weekend. Previous Kincaid enrollees went back to Kincaid. They sort of had a homecoming in Kincaid and the chance to talk about what you were doing, and what other people were doing.
Wilson: That would be almost the beginning of, well, it wasn’t the beginnings of SEAC but… [Southeastern Archaeological Conference]
Fairbanks: No, but I think it sort of set the scene for it. And they continued on after SEAC was founded. SEAC was founded in the spring of ’38 or ’39, following the annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology, which had been in Milwaukee. And then a number of us who were, I think, all involved in TVA archeology in one or another of the basins, with the exception of Jim Ford who was in Louisiana. Jim was the major instigator of Southeastern Archeological Conference. We met in the ceramic repository with Jimmy Griffin, and Carl Guthe lent some words of advice but wasn’t really an active participant in it. Chuck Wilder, Chuck Nash, Jim Ford, Neitzel, myself, and I think Bill Haag were involved at that first meeting. The idea was, well, Ford propounded his trinomial ceramic terminology, but the idea was that we’d meet up until the war years, twice a year and share information. Those first meetings we would put a southeastern chronological chart on the blackboard. It was one column for northern Alabama, one column for central Georgia, one column for eastern Tennessee, or wherever and whatever. It did serve a very real purpose of establishing a regional southeastern chronology out of these local sub-regional chronologies. It did standardize ceramic terminology and didn’t go much further than that in other artifact terminological systems. But it grew and grew and grew until, well, the original meetings In ’38, ’39, and ‘1Q, were perhaps a dozen individuals, not the two or three hundred that we have now.
Wilson: I think it’s up to about three hundred now. Was Major Webb~ in on those first meetings, or did he travel?
Fairbanks: He wasn’t there at the one in Ann Arbor, but he did regularly attend other meetings and did strongly support It.
Wilson: Wasn’t he pretty much the focal point of that TVA archeology?
Fairbanks: Yes, though there were undercurrents, and some other individuals, as I look back, who seem to have resented the major. Major Webb was extremely energetic, I would even say an aggressive individual, and organized things usually to the good, and was not afraid to push his own ideas. He had been in charge of the Norris Basin excavations and was in overall charge, I believe, of all TVA excavations. But he was much more active in northern Alabama than the Chickamauga, Watts Bar, the University of Tennessee excavations that I was primarily involved with, although we did see the major from time to time.
Wilson: Was Major Webb in geology?
Fairbanks: Not really. His degree from Harvard was in physics, and he was chairman of the physics department at the University of Kentucky. He then established the statewide archeological survey in Kentucky with Professor Funkhouser, who was an entomologist and an authority on the __________ And Major Webb was, in fact, chairman of TVA archeology, and chairman of the University of Kentucky anthropology department and museum at the same time that he was chairman of the physics department at Kentucky. He was a man with tremendous energy and long-ranging vision, and like so many extremely competent people, rather intolerant of blunderers.
Wilson: Yes. You had mentioned in class last week an episode with him about somebody running a museum and that kind of showed his aggressiveness.
Fairbanks: Yes, and I think that also showed that he was intolerant of bungling, of misrepresentation, and pretension. Lord knows, there was enough of it. Again, just as in the current archeological crisis in the United States, the Antiquities Act, or the Historic Preservation Act of 1935, the TVA archeology, the WPA archeology, all attracted a lot of nonprofessionally trained individuals, or poorly–trained individuals, or avocational individuals who were drawn into the field of archeology by the sudden increase in jobs in archeology, and by and large, the major bulk of these people should be run out of archeology.
Wilson: So how long did you work there in TVA?
Fairbanks: From January 1937 until I think September, or October 1938. At one of these Kincaid reunions, Jess Jennings recruited me, and in fact offered me a job at Ocmulgee National monument, where he was superintendent in Macon, Georgia. I went from TVA to Macon in a variety of positions. I think when I first went there I was on the Civilian Conservation Corps payroll, or perhaps on FERA, which was one of the relief agencies. And sometime after that, ’39 or ’40, the National Park Service finally got around to getting a register of archeologists. The Civil Service Commission had a new exam for archeologists. One of the questions asked was, “If you were out on an excavation and your horse dies, what do you do?” You were supposed to say, well, you bury the horse and collect iron rations, and walk in one hundred and fifty miles across the desert. It didn’t have a damn thing to do with archeology.
Wilson: Would that have been more of a southwestern orientation?
Fairbanks: Yes, very definitely. I don’t think there were any questions about the eastern United States, and there weren’t really any questions about archeology. But it did create a register of junior archeologists, I think we were called.
Wilson: How did you finish up at Chicago then?
Fairbanks: Well, you could do this under the new plan. In June of 1939, I went back for two days to Chicago and took the comprehensive examination, and having been gone since December ’36, I took the exam and passed it, and was awarded an A.B. degree. So my A.B. was ’39, starting at Swarthmore as a freshman in ’31, quite a while.
Wilson: You might hold the record on it. But they must have taken into consideration that you’d been working in the profession for…
Fairbanks: Oh, no. To get the first bachelor of philosophy, I think at the end of two years you took the two–year broad, four-course exam, and you got the associate degree. And then you passed the upper-level comprehensive exam and you got your A.B. I knew one individual at Chicago who registered for a minimum number of courses for about three years, never went to class except to get the reading lists and read them, and took the comprehensives, and the ordered examiners did refuse to give him a degree. He had one of these photographic memories, and they said he was just repeating back what he had read, and not contributing anything. So they did make him go to class, but in theory, you could do this. As long as you passed the two–year comprehensive, and a four-year comprehensive, I guess you’d have to have signed up for these courses.
Wilson: So then you went to work for Park Service?
Fairbanks: Jess Jennings was going back to Chicago to write his dissertation on the Peachtree Mound in North Carolina, and I planned to follow him back to Chicago in January of 1940 and start work on a masters. Jess in– viegled me into doing a job for the National Park Service at Kennesaw Mountain National Park. I started there with the job in September 1939, and of course, after 1941 it was even more imminent. But I couldn’t persuade them to give me a commission in any of the fields, and I finally went in as an enlisted man in 1943. Too young to know anything and too old to be a good bet on something [laughter].
Wilson: So you were one of the field directors in TVA. Was that kind of learning under fire? Because a lot of times, from talking with Neitzel and others, you ended up having, all of a sudden, ninety or a hundred people that you had to supervise.
Fairbanks: Oh, more than that in some cases. I think on Hiwassee Island we had a crew of a hundred and twenty, and Chuck Nash and I were the only trained supervisors, and at that point I did not even have an A.B. Well, I actually had completed all of the course requirements, but hadn’t taken the comprehensive exam, and I think that Nash was in about the same kind of situation, and we were the only ones with any academic training. We had a couple of local collectors who had been looting archaeological sites in eastern Tennessee for years and selling the collections in various places. I think some of those collections are still in existence in local for–charge [private] museums. We were on the University of Tennessee payroll, and we had these tremendous WPA crews in the Chickamauga basin. They were primarily ex-coal miners and mountaineers who had been unemployed for several years during the bottom of the Depression, and it was an extremely impoverished area. In the late 1920s, the coal miners and to some extent the textile mill workers had formed unions, and the companies had promptly closed the mines and closed the textile plants, and just abandoned them and moved out, and these people had been out of work for years in some cases. They were chronically impoverished and it was a revelation as to what the southern mountaineer was. On the Hiwassee river dig, which came after Hiwassee Island, Mill Beaty and I were the supervisors and had over a hundred mountaineers. In the spring of 1938, soon as the sun came out, we worked all winter, more or less, mostly standing around fires. Soon as the sun came out they began to show the effects of pellagra, and the local doctor, Neitzel and I bought vitamin injections. The local doctor had just come out of an internship at Duke University, and Duke had been experimenting or developing vitamin B complex injections, and many of these individuals were seriously vitamin deficient and clinic deficient.
Wilson: Doing a little physical anthropology.
Fairbanks: Well, more behavioral anthropology. One of the characteristics of pellagra deficiency is dermatitis. That is the first indication; then the splitting or of the fissuring of the skin, then dementia, and finally death. The three Ds and the dementia generally takes the form of hallucinatory experience. We had our full share of hallucinants.
Wilson: Do you think you training at Kincald helped prepare you for those massive crews?
Fairbanks: No, the Kincaid had trained in careful hand–excavation, and precise recording, and mapping, and the value of a three-dimensional record. But I think that at the TVA-WPA archeology we did learn some management skills, but primarily on our own. I guess at Kincaid there were about eight, nine, maybe ten, people in the field school. It wasn’t by any means a mass organized proposition.
Wilson: Was the Kennesaw Mountain project the one that you really had some good control on them, or was it a massive group of…?
Fairbanks: No, it was a very small field crew. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was the pivotal point in the Battles of Atlanta, and the march from Chattanooga to Atlanta to the sea to attempt to split the Confederacy. The Confederates had all the way from Chattanooga, but particularly at Kennesaw Mountain, developed a pattern of fire to fall back as the Federals overwhelmed their trenches, and this was one of the first examples of intensive trench warfare. The Confederates were short on guns and ammunition and trained soldiers, and most of them were in the Virginia area. Most of the trained soldiers slowly fell back towards Atlanta, but Kennesaw was a typical battle following the battles around Chattanooga, which were also pivotal. The Federal engineers had made careful maps of the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, and many of the entrenchments were still visible. But in some areas after the war, the trenches had been erased by cotton field row agriculture. Pinky Harrington, J. C. Harrington, who was the National Park Service regional archeologist during this whole period, was the superintendent of Kennesaw Mountain and proposed to follow the Federal maps contained in the Federal publications and the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, which you can’t say in Georgia. It’s the War Between the States, and he was just going to stake them out and re-excavate them. Pinky Harrington pointed out you had to do some archeology before you could do this sort of thing, so I got the job of going up there and doing it with the superintendent of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. He was quite critical of what this was all about and the need to do It. He was rather reluctant to provide a crew and all that. We immediately, the first morning of excavation, found one of the trenches that had been obliterated by plowing. By that afternoon we had found a defilade, a right-angle trench to the main trench at the back. And while the Official Records of the War Between the States showed some defilade, there were not nearly as many as I was finding, which was a good example of what archeology can do to supplement, extend, and amplify written records. All the military people knew that defilades were there because if your entrenchment was flanked, your troops fell back into the defilade and still had the protection of an earth rampart, but why draw them. You know they’re there.
Wilson: Draw a few and everybody knew that there were more.
Fairbanks: Yes. So we did persuade the professional Confederate superintendent of the monument that there was some point in doing archeology on a historic site where we had presumably complete records. We found something archeologically that was not completely explained in the written record.
Wilson: Was that your first historic site?
Fairbanks: I think really it was about the first historic site in TVA archeology. We had pretty much ignored historic sites, with the possible exception that some of the sites had minimal historic Indian trade involvement. But we actually didn’t do much with those sites. TVA archeology was the big mound site. At Ocmulgee, Jennings had got me there to catalog the material that Kelley had excavated and never been cataloged. We had started, Jennings and I, and shared a beginning excavation of the Lamar site, the Lamar Palisade. But I hadn’t really gotten involved in historic archeology until that Kennesaw thing. Pinky Harrington had been extensively involved in historic archeology at Jamestown, and I listened to him and was sort of convinced that we ought to do some more historic site archeology. And after the war, when I came out of the army, I told the Park Service that I was out and willing to go back to work for them. They said, well, could we persuade you to go to St. Simons as a superintendent of Fort Frederica. And so I started historic excavations there. Harrington gave very valuable advice, though he issued few orders. He explained what he thought might profitably be done, rather than saying you have to do it this way or that way.
Wilson: So you started in about ’46?
Fairbanks: Yes, I would guess in probably March 1946 to Fort Frederica.
Wilson: How did you get back into school in Michigan?
Fairbanks: Well, by that time, Dr. Cole had retired in Chicago, and for all practical purposes, the department at Chicago had turned down archeology. A number of people who had been in the graduate program in archeology at Chicago were sort of left high and dry. A number of them, Bill Sears, for instance, transferred to Michigan. Jimmy Griffin, whom I had known since the TVA days and wed been conferring back and forth about southeastern archeology offered me a job as a graduate teaching assistant at Michigan. That was in the summer of 1947, and for various family reasons, I couldn’t go at that time. My infant son was seriously ill, and so I deferred It until fall of ’48. Jimmy then arranged for me to be a teaching assistant in the basic introductory course In anthropology. I think It was the first couple of terms Mishita Tee (?) was the instructor. The first term you took Leslie Whites course in the history of anthropology and got the word on evolution and culturalogy. Courses under Griffin were various aspects of new world archeology.
Wilson: So you were only really at Frederica for about two years?
Fairbanks: No, less than two years. Maybe a year and a half; from March 1946 until September 1948. I was at Michigan two academic years, ’48/49, and ’49/50. I got my M.A. in January 1950, and this was an M.A. without thesis. You had a comprehensive exam on the basis of some core course things. And like the earlier Chicago version, a successful “I pass” in the masters comprehensive would admit you to the doctoral program, and at that time which would have been June 1951, the Park Service had offered me a job supervising the construction of the Ocmulgee museum exhibits in Washington. I went to Washington and we were there a year, June 1950 to 1951, and we completed the older version of Ocmulgee museum exhibits which I think now have been replaced by a new version.
Wilson: We’ll have to go up and take a look at them sometime. So you were there for a year. Then did you go back to Michigan for your doctorate?
Fairbanks: No. I had completed the necessary course work at Michigan, and I went from the Washington Museums division office back to Ocmulgee as assistant regional archeologist and basically, it was to install the museum exhibit, supervise the final Installation of the exhibits, and get the interpretive program going. Harrington, in addition to being a very good archeologist, had insisted on a strong interpretive program, and In the next year or so, the idea was that I was to develop a sounder, better Interpretive program and we did. We improved some field exhibits, and the Park Service kept cranking up emergency jobs in one place and another. I’ve forgotten where all of them were. One was a salvage excavation in the Beaufort reservoir area. I came down here to Florida to confer with the Florida Park Service about remains in the Florida Cavern State Park and things like this that required National Park Service expertise in temporary situations. And I was finishing writing my dissertation which Id started back before the war. In excavation, reworking Kelley s notes on the excavation of Mound C, and burial funeral mound I became disabused of research opportunities in the Park Service. After I had completed the Mound C report, the question was, “Well, what do I do next? Do I write another major report, or do I write another journal–size unit reports, or what do I do?” I’d been writing up some of these specific field jobs that the Park Service had sent me out on, and the Park Service couldn’t make up their mind. And then about that time when I was getting pretty tired of the Park Services inability to decide things, Hale Smith wrote and said there’s a new job opening at FSU. Hale had been at Michigan the same time I was, and I think his doctorate was six months ahead of mine or something. Smith, and Ted Guthe, and Bill Sears, and I were the archeology doctoral candidates all at the same time at Michigan, and virtually all at about the same stage.
Wilson: Did you know Hale from Chicago?
Wilson: He came after you left?
Fairbanks: Well, I was working for TVA was when he arrived at Chicago, and when I went back to the Kincaid reunions, or back to Chicago, or to the Chicago gang at the annual meetings, I met Hale. But he wasn’t at school when I was at Chicago.
Wilson: Is that when you also met John Griffin?
Fairbanks: Yes, I think so. Though the first time I really knew Griffin was in the 1948 conference in Daytona.
Wilson: I think it was ’47.
Fairbanks: ’47? Probably so.
Wilson: At his father’s house?
Fairbanks: Yes. That was when Hale and Griffin were starting a statewide archeological program for the Florida Park Service. They were getting that thing organized. Sears was digging at Kolomoki at the time. Ted Guthe had gone to Rochester Museum, and then down to the University of Tennessee.
Wilson: Well, we were talking about the Daytona Conference in ’47. Was that to talk about what needed to be done in Florida?
Fairbanks: Yes, I guess. Again, it was an attempt to get the opinion of various people. I was asked because I was peripheral on the Georgia coast to the Florida area, and to straighten out local chronologies about which darn little was known at that time, and to indicate relationships with adjacencies in south Georgia and the Georgia coast.
Wilson: Do you remember who else was there?
Fairbanks: Not very clearly. John Griffin and his wife were there. Hale Smith. Trickey [E. Bruce] from Mobile or wherever he lives in southern Alabama. There were several non-professional or avocational people. Some guy, Brookfield, an Audubon Society ranger or some such thing.
Wilson: Do you want to take a look at the names just to refresh your memory? It’s that top list.
Fairbanks: I don’t remember Ben. Ben, yes, Ben was there. I didn’t remember Gordon Willey; John Goggin was there. Tony Waring, that’s right…
Wilson: I think John Griffin said that Jim Griffin couldn’t make it, but sent a paper. Maybe I am getting that confused with the ’49 meeting at Rollins College.
Fairbanks: Well, Jimmy Griffin was present at the Rollins meeting.
Wilson: Then it was at the ’47 conference that he couldn’t make it for some reason, but was still listed. So that was really one of your first, other than coming into Florida as Park Service archeologist for the area, that was probably one of your first introductions to the…
Wilson: Meeting with other people who were doing real work in…
Fairbanks: Both before the war and after the war, the superintendent of Castillo de San Marcos, National Monument in St. Augustine was the coordinating superintendent for the Southeastern National Monument. And so I had come into St. Augustine on various Park Service things, and to some extent had been involved with the Florida Park Service in an advisory capacity with the Marianna Caverns thing. And seems like there had been something about Santa Rosa seashore area which had come up at that time. That was a very confused situation. It was established as a national seashore and then it was disestablished, and it’s been reestablished.
Wilson: It’s like Naval Live Oak was being transferred from federal property to state, and then it was…
Fairbanks: Went into private hands which it evidently shouldn’t have been. It was done illegally or something.
Wilson: So, then, of course, the next big meeting in Florida that you attended was the ’49 conference at Rollins College.
Fairbanks: Florida Indian and his Neighbors.
Fairbanks: I think it was Jimmy and John Griffin, Gordon Willey, Ben Rouse, Wes Heard, Alex Krieger, and myself. I think John Griffin was, and John Goggin, John Griffin was the organizer of the thing. And Rip and Adelal Bullen were there, but they had just come to Florida and didn’t have much to say about Florida archeology.
Wilson: Hale had gone back to Michigan at that time.
Fairbanks: Yes. Hale, we all came down from Michigan. Jimmy Griffin and my family had, Evelyn and Charles had gone to Macon to her parents, and I dropped off there and went back to Michigan with them on the train. Jimmy got stopped doing eighty miles an hour in the forty-mile zone in Marietta. Had to pay a dollar a mile, plus court costs and never drove that fast again, he says [laughter].
Wilson: I think Carl Guthe was also there, too, wasn’t he at that one?
Wilson: That was one of the first syntheses on Florida archeology.
Fairbanks: I suppose Ted Guthe was there, but I don’t remember him. But I would think he probably was.
Wilson: Was that one of the first kind of syntheses of Florida archeology?
Fairbanks: Yes, I guess it was. Certainly the first. No, the only thing that would have been earlier was that exploration in fieldwork at the Smithsonian Institution, Mat [Matthew] Sterlings brief thing in ’35, or something like that. I guess Gordon had finished a manuscript for Archeology of the Florida Gulf Coast or virtually finished it. It hadn’t appeared yet.
Wilson: Right. I think what John had said. I think he had a galley proof or something that was being passed around for people to look at.
Fairbanks: And Rouse had done work In the Indian River area, but again, I don’t think it had been published.
Wilson: So, that was some of Yale University’s work, wasn’t it?
Wilson: And Goggin was from Yale?
Fairbanks: Yes. Goggin did most of his undergraduate work here at the University of Florida and then gone to New Mexico, and after the war had gone to Yale and got his doctorate at Yale.
Wilson: Was there any reason why Yale quit doing work? Was it because of the…?
Fairbanks: Well, the work they’d done in Florida was part of the Yale-Caribbean program. Cornelius Osgood had organized this Yale-Caribbean program, and Rouse had done a lot of archeological work in the Caribbean. Somehow or other, they managed to convince Osgood that Florida was part of the Caribbean picture, which of course it was, geographically, but quite anthropologically, and Rouse had done the Indian River survey. Goggin had written his doctoral dissertation on the St. Johns on distribution of the sites. Gordon Willey and Dick Woodbury had surveyed the areas of the Gulf Coast from almost Pensacola to Tampa Bay, and then some work in the interior at Opelika and the Okeechobee basin. Not very much though. And the previous work, Fewkes [Jesse Walter] and then Stirling [Matthew W.] had dug at the Weeden Island site and the Safety Harbor site. Of course, there was also the Cushing [Frank H.I material which was not understood hardly at all, Newman and Jennings had dug at Ormond Beach, and there were the C. B. Moore excavations here, there, and yonder which for the Gulf coastal area, Willey had restudied and organized and synthesized. But for the rest of Florida the C. B. Moore stuff was just lying there without any sort of organization.
Wilson: So then Hale Smith offered you a job in 1954?
Fairbanks: I had just received my doctorate In June of that year and I forget just what the circumstances were, but anyway, I went to FSU and did various excavations, fall field school-type excavations in the area. I taught, I think, ten or eleven different courses. A little bit of everything. The department was Hale and I; a two-man department.
Wilson: Where was it?
Fairbanks: It was one the second floor of the building that had been when it had been Florida State College for Women. They’d had sit–down table dining halls. Some of the girls.
Wilson: Seminole Hall?
Fairbanks: Seminole, maybe so. And we were on the second floor in a converted two-story dining room, and they’d put in partitions, and cut them up into offices smaller than half this size, real small.
Wilson: Did you have some good lab space though?
Fairbanks: Oh, fair lab space, but the classroom situation was bad. We just had fifteen-foot partitions setting off the classroom and the top was open, and anything that went on in the rest of this extremely large room was audible in the classroom. Hale had a program in museum exhibit design and construction, and the FSU museum was on the same floor with the department of anthropology. We had some very good students and during the time I was there from ’54 to ’63, we began a masters program, which was the first in the state, and the department of archeology and anthropology at that time was the first department in the state. Goggin had started earlier in 1948 here in a position in the department of sociology, and then briefly it had become a department of sociology and anthropology. And then Goggin had succeeded, I guess in about 1960, I’d have to look up the exact date, setting up a separate department of anthropology. And then in the summer of 1962, when John was digging over at the Fountain of Youth Park area in St. Augustine, we learned that he had a severe cancer problem. It turned out to be inoperable. Hard to extend. I came here I think in May 1963, and he was in pretty bad shape but was in some sort of an emeritus position. It wasn’t very clear to anybody exactly what his position was. He was not able to teach, and he died about a month after I came here, and later in that summer of ’63, we were given permission to start our masters program; the second masters program in the state. This was a period in which the state university system was expanding terrifically. Originally, before World War II, it had been all-male University of Florida and the all-female Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee. After the war , Tallahassee became Florida State University and became coed. In ’61 or ’62, the University of South Florida was founded in Tampa, and they developed an anthropology program. At that point, there were three anthropology programs, two of them with masters programs. And shortly after, say about ’67 or ’68, South Florida got a masters program, and about the same time, we were given permission to start a doctoral program.
Wilson: You were then at both FSU and here helping to set up masters programs. How were those structured? More like Chicago with their emphasis on the four…?
Fairbanks: Yes, pretty much, I think. I don’t have any recollection about South Florida’s program, though I’m sure I read the proposal because the proposals were circulated among all the universities by the board of regents, the board of control, I think It was called then. At both here and at FSU, the program required courses in all four fields, a comprehensive examination in all four fields, and at first, at FSU you had a choice of a masters of science or a masters of art degree. The masters of science was a non–thesis degree, and many people took the masters of science because the masters of art degree required one graduate course in a humanities subject, and most of the humanities courses had innumerable prerequisites. Caribbean history, in effect, required an undergraduate history major before you could take the graduate course in Caribbean history, and so many of the masters candidates over there took a graduate course in theater or something to get their humanities course. Or they went to the masters of science. I don’t think there was any humanities course requirement here as I recall, but there was in both a comprehensive examination in all four fields. So when I came here, in addition to John Goggin, who as I said was nonactive, there was Bill Carter, who was a social-cultural anthropologist with an interest in Andean South America. Then Theron Nunez who had been at Florida State. He took his masters degree at FSU when I was there, and then went to Berkeley for his doctorate. He must have come here in the second year I was here because he had just received his doctorate under Foster on Mexican ethnology. And we also had Paul Hahn, another archeologist who had been a student of Goggin here at Florida some years earlier and had gone on to Yale. Then he received his doctorate at Yale, and then got a job at the University of Mississippi. But, he didn’t work out very well. He had become embittered by the desegregation uproar in Mississippi and virtually abandoned archeology in favor of agitation for civil rights.
Wilson: So this was a very small department.
Fairbanks: It was a very small four-person department. It was, usually one and sometimes two anthropologists in the university college, but again, they really contribute a heck of a lot to the department. In the Florida State Museum, which was then downtown in the Seagle Building, at that time there was Rip Bullen and Bill Sears.
Wilson: When did Jim Ford come?
Fairbanks: It was after that. About ’67, I think. He was only here two or three years.
Wilson: Where was the department here when you first came?
Fairbanks: It was in a World War II temporary hut over on the bank of the sinkhole in back of dairy science. It had been in several different places on campus, but Goggin had moved it when we were there and secured that building a year or two before, and there was a mess. Then we moved Into the Arts and Sciences Building across the street when that was refurbished from the old Florida Union. Then the Union was constructed. We had some offices on the main floor and offices and laboratories in the basement. Before I resigned as chairman, we started planning for this building and were encouraged to plan for, I don’t know, fifteen thousand square feet, or something. Gradually, it was cut with every version until we wound up with five thousand square feet or something that we have now.
Wilson: Well, I think the way the departments grown, it could certainly stand the fifteen thousand that you initially had put in for.
Fairbanks: Yes. This is and has been a problem. When the new graduate school was built, the graduate and international studies agreement with the National Science Foundation was that faculty with international programs were to be housed in that building along with the graduate school. So the Latin Americanists and the Africanists were over there and we’ve got a split department. Now I think we’ve got people down in the Health Center and scattered here and there and yonder.
Wilson: Well, it could be worse. My understanding of the way Harvard is set up is that the physical anthropologists are separate from the cultural anthropologists who are separate from the archeologists. I didn’t realize that was the system up there, but apparently, It really is split like that with professors in actual different buildings.
Fairbanks: Oh, yes. Really It’s only the archeologists that are in the Peabody Museum there on Divinity Street. The rest of them are over across one of the quadrangles. It’s probably not any farther than it is down to the museum.
Wilson: What were your ideas when you set up the Ph.D. program? Were you chairman at the time in the department on that?
Wilson: How did you envision that program?
Fairbanks: Well, we looked at the masters program as requiring basic competence in all four fields and demonstration of that serving as admission to the doctoral program. The doctoral program at first was envisioned that it would involve areas where we had existing competence which was southeastern and colonial archeology, Latin America primarily, and by that time we also had begun a limited African program. From the start, there were two anthropologists in the med school staff. Carroll Taylor and Bill Hutchinson, and at that time, they frequently taught, particularly Dr. Taylor taught courses in anthropology, and did very well. She was a student of Malimowski-Briton. We began to acquire graduate research professors. The first one was Kimball, and next was Chuck Wagley, and then von Mering. When Kimball retired we got Marvin Harris. We received very good support both from the College of Arts and Sciences and from the graduate school all the way along the line. I think it was in the time I came here until two or three years ago that we were averaging class registration growth of somewhere around twenty percent a year. This was a period in which anthropology was becoming a recognized part of a liberal arts education. In the fifties, I think a good many college faculty people had courses In psychology, and so they were counseling students to take courses in psychology. By the sixties, a good many professors of history, or sociology, or English, or whatever had a course in anthropology so they were advising students to take an elective in anthropology. Registrations were growing and demand for anthropology programs were growing. The expansion of universities created a demand for faculty across the board. And this was true of all of them, in fact by 1960, any department of anthropology that was in place and had a faculty and a program could confidently expect that it would grow. But I think that the University of Florida was particular in that we did get a doctoral program before the board of regents shut down on new doctoral programs. We, In comparison to other southern universities, North Carolina, Chapel Hill, had a doctoral program in place from the mid-fifties, I believe. Tulane had a doctoral program in place from something like the end of World War II. Maybe before because Wauchope went down there.
Wilson: What about Georgia?
Fairbanks: [laughter] I think we were authorized a doctoral program before Georgia. Knoxville, Tennessee lost theirs; it was the only other doctoral
Wilson: That was in mid-seventies when they finally got theirs started. Mainly because, I think, one of the things Bass [William M.] pointed to the board of regents, I guess its the board of regents in Tennessee, there was a need for another doctoral program in the southeast. The increase in students, of archeology particularly, but the need for another doctoral program with an emphasis in southeastern work.
Wilson: Well, archeology had a prominent place in Florida anthropology. John Goggin, an archeologist, started the program here and it remained. John was fond of saying it was a broad anthropological program, but it wasn’t. It was an archeological program here.
Fairbanks: Hale Smith at FSU was an archeologist, and Roger Grange, an archeologist, was the first chairman at South Florida. Bill Sears, another archeologist, was the first chairman at Florida Atlantic. And up until the mid-seventies, those were the four Florida universities with graduate programs, and all of them were chaired by archeologists.
Wilson: So there was the emphasis there but…
Fairbanks: None of them are.
Wilson: But the thing is, I think what’s interesting is that not only are you all archeologists, but I think your background, your training, you we…..
Fairbanks: Was in the Chicago tradition, four fields across the board and so on. The significant thing was, I think, in the fifties and sixties, social-cultural anthropology in the deep South was a little bit suspect. But archeology, as the study of the past and digging up dead Indians, nobody can really object to that; it doesn’t impinge on desegregation questions that were burning issues in the fifties and the sixties. So it was elitist connoisseurship and harmless. Admittedly, a lot of the people that came into it as students either as students intending to major in anthropology or simply for a course or two, were interested in archeology. It was, as I say, the idea of general humanitarian sort of discipline and didn’t upset any apple carts.
Wilson: Well, the program here is being reevaluated. What are your feelings on it? I’m one of your students and Hales and Ed Dolans students. He was my major professor as an undergraduate, and then going to FSU, and then coming here, I guess I’m kind of entrenched in Chicago tradition in being competent in the four fields, at least on the masters level.
Fairbanks: Well, I think what the curriculum subcommittee of the faculty has been doing for the last month or so in weekly meetings, and in general, is insisting on course work in the four fields. At least a number of the committee members are still talking about comprehensive examination in four fields, and not to reduce It to one field in general as the other committee had suggested. What the outcome will be, I don’t know, but everybody now seems to agree that the department should primarily emphasize graduate work leading to the doctorate and the comprehensive examination as a gateway to admission into final stage of the doctoral program, and only in special cases would the department plan for a terminal masters program. There’s also a proposal, I don’t know where it stands with the faculty, that we’ve been straw-voted on as to whether it’d be a joint program and degree between urban planning and anthropology. As I read It, a number of faculty and graduate students feel that if urban planners want competence in anthropology, let them take an anthropology degree. Of course, for the last ten years or so, it has been obvious that, in the first place, the baby boom of the immediate post-War years is now in the getting out of college, and because of other economic factors that college course enrollments probably will not be increasing as they did In the sixties and early seventies and that academic positions will now largely be replacements for retiring faculty, rather than expansion of existing faculty. So there’s been an increased emphasis for about ten years on non-academic positions in anthropology, and there are such positions and anthropologists, with the proper academic background, have been quite successful in filling them. This, of course, is particularly true of archeology. Archeology seems to have as many non-academic positions at the present as academic positions.
Wilson: Particularly on a masters level, when you’re looking at the state and some federal positions.
Fairbanks: A good many of the federal positions are filled at the masters, or sub-masters level.
Wilson: A lot of those were filled in the early sixties when a masters was considered a pretty good requirement. I notice that you were president of the Florida Anthropological Society from ’56 and ’57, and then editor for a number of years for the…
Fairbanks: At least twice.
Wilson: What’s your feeling on this organization?
Fairbanks: Well, its one of the older state societies. It was founded with the intention of being an anthropological society rather than an archeological, or purely archeological society. But its major membership throughout the years has been avocational archeologists with only a leavening of academic, museum-oriented archeologists, or anthropologists of any kind. I would like to see the Florida Anthropological Society take a stronger role in integrating the avocational non-professional into the mainstream of archeology and anthropology. We have had some success it seems to me in getting a few avocational archeologists to give up looting and become reliable non-professional archeologists. I don’t think we’ve recruited any avocational social–cultural or physical– avocational anthropologists into the field, and there is certainly a lot they could be doing in community studies and one thing and another.
There has been a traditional antagonism between many professional anthropologists and nonprofessional avocational archeologists and relic collectors. The professional archeologist depends on the avocational archeologist for a tremendous amount of information about location sites. We could use their interest more efficiently than we do.
Wilson: I think that like Louisiana has a good program with running a field school and trying to get people trained, so they have some competence. It certainly would help, particularly on this mound now over in Daytona Beach, if we had well-trained people in the general public that we could call on with supervision during the week, or whenever, with a trained, professional archeologist, and set this up and be able to salvage some of these sites. There Is very little money, or no money to pay people, and yet you’ve got people that are interested in doing archeology.
Fairbanks: I spent a summer in England looking at their use of nonprofessional, avocational, volunteer workers, particularly in the salvage of threatened sites that the British call rescue archeology. There are some major limitations on how this is conducted in Britain, in my opinion, we shouldn’t repeat. But I think we can use a great deal more avocational people than we do. It does require leadership by a museum rather than an academic department, I think. So far this hasn’t materialized in Florida, but I think it would be extremely valuable if it did.
Wilson: When we were interrupted by the telephone call earlier, you were talking about SEAC, Southeastern Archeological Conference, and you expressed that you didn’t particularly like where it was heading in its format today. Would you discuss that a little more?
Fairbanks: Well, one of the problems we got into was funding. Some people felt that every paper that was presented at the annual meeting deserved to be published in the bulletin of the Southeastern Archeological Conference; there was no selectivity of what papers were given; thus there was no selectivity of what papers were published. Publication of the bulletin just became an intolerable financial burden. I think what I would like to have seen was greater program selectivity rather than allowing the same unselective process; anybody who wants to present a paper sends in a title and an abstract, or whatever and gets on the program, which means, in my opinion, an unmanageable program. The program is long and unwieldy and crowded, and then there is the movement to a journal. I don’t see the point in having a separate journal that is not dependent upon the annual activity of the Conference. When Jimmy Griffin asked Steve Williams, Haag, and I to try to figure out what we could do about the financial situation, Steve came up with the idea of these life membership. I didn’t approve of them because I think a life membership is a liability to a society rather than an asset. By taking a life membership, you have undertaken to supply that individual for life; if he lives to be a hundred and fifty, you’re still going to have to be giving him…
Wilson: You pay well over a hundred dollars in postage just to keep the person informed or what’s going on.
Fairbanks: You may, but of course many younger people didn’t feel like they could subscribe to a life membership. We used to have life memberships in the Society for American Archeology and the American Anthropological Association, and I think they’ve reinstituted them.
Wilson: They have. I think that the Society for American Archeology is about $700.
Fairbanks: I think that the reasons for not having them are still valid. But anyway, they went to them and were presumably, fairly reasonable financial shape at the present time. But this question whether the original purpose of the Southeastern Archeological Conference was to share information among workers in various sub-regions in the southeast, and whether the annual meeting and the new journal are going to do this or not, I just don’t know.
Wilson: I think the big problem is the massive growth of the people that attended the conference. With all the work that was being done, particularly the contract work, it gets very difficult to disseminate this information around, and I don’t know the answer myself.
Fairbanks: I don’t believe that another journal is going to do it because a journal is going to publish presumably. I haven’t seen any guidelines distributed as to what kind of articles the journal is looking for. Presumably, it will be selecting paradigmatic articles that will not necessarily reflect current problems, or current information any more than American Antiquity, American Anthropologist and…
Wilson: Any of the other journals, Mid-Continental. Well, it really is going to be a problem. Well just have to wait and see what happens with them. How would you define an anthropologist?
Fairbanks: Well, an anthropologist is, by definition, a person who is trained in and concerned with the subject of anthropology, which in turn is defined as the study of man. I think you need to revise that, and various aspects of behavior that are based upon learned standards as distinct from innate biologically, or determined behavior. The condition of man as a member of a social group practicing a given culture, I would say, or that anybody who is studying any aspect of human behavior from a holistic point of view can validly be called an anthropologist, which takes in a whole lot of territory.
Wilson: What do you feel makes a good archeologist?
Fairbanks: Well, adequate training in the techniques of recovery of data and a dedication to re-learning something that has been known in the past, but has been discarded and forgotten and obliterated from the memory of people of the past. Archeology is the study of the past; it is the study of material culture. So it is, in effect, the study of the material aspects of human behavior through time, and it really is the only discipline that does that.
Wilson: A couple of nights ago I was preparing a list of individuals who I thought would be interesting to get your comments on, In terms of their contributions to anthropology, archeology, and in some cases, Florida archeology. Some of them you’ve already talked about. I’d like to mention a few others, and If you could just describe them and tell what their contributions were to our profession. One that comes to mind is John Swanton.
Fairbanks: Well, John R. Swanton laid the foundation for ethnohistoric studies of the southeastern Indians. While he was trained in ethnology, his preoccupation with written documents blinded him to the contribution that archeology could make in many cases. He was a very nice individual. had personal contact with him, and had a tremendous respect for him, but some of him determinations of travel locations and so on are grossly biased by his dependence on invalid written documents.
Wilson: Jim Ford.
Fairbanks: Jim Ford was a tremendous influence not only in southeastern archeology, but archeology of North American as a whole in many respects. I have known him since the mid-1930s until his death in the late sixties.
Wilson: You knew him for some time.
Fairbanks: Quite so. His contributions, particularly to southeastern archeology, and not particularly the Florida archeology, are tremendous. I think in his latter years his attention to massive migrations, theories and explanations, was seriously selective.
Wilson: Gordon Willey.
Fairbanks: I would think that Gordon probably is the most brilliant archeologist ever to have worked in the southeastern United States. He is a first class brain. His contributions to Florida archeology are milestones, and have not been duplicated since then. I’m sorry that his attention got diverted to meso-America.
Wilson: A. R. Kelley.
Fairbanks: Nobody since Cortez has had as much money to spend on American Indians, and as little to show for it as A. R. Kelley. Again, a brilliant individual, but an inability to get things organized. He did have a tremendous ability in interesting non-archeologist, the general public, the legislature, both on the national and the state level, in funding archeology, but again, his inability to get things organized. Just simple housekeeping sorts of things severely limited the overall contribution that he could have made to archeology of Georgia or the southeast.
Wilson: Dave DeJarnette.
Fairbanks: Dave DeJarnette again is a very pleasurable, nice, sincere individual, and had done certainly more for Alabama archeology than any other individual. He did not have what we would not consider adequate formal academic training. He always was hesitant to express and to push his own ideas about archeology. He was bashful in the presence of academically–trained individuals. Nevertheless, he accomplished a tremendous amount of archeology in Alabama that spilled off Into neighboring areas. People that he started out in archeology made considerable contributions.
Wilson: James B. Griffin.
Fairbanks: Griffin is Mr. Eastern United States Archeology. I never have heard him say a harsh word about anybody even when it was highly justified. He has an encyclopedic knowledge, and total recall of anything he’s ever read, seen or been told about archeology of most of North America, including large segments of Mexico and South America. And he has the unusual ability, probably equaled only by V. Gordon Childe, of synthesizing all of this tremendous amount of information into an understandable framework, and particularly of the eastern United States.
Wilson: John Goggin.
Fairbanks: John Goggin was a very difficult individual. He had emotional problems, very severe ones. He also brought a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to archeology, particularly to Florida archeology, and he is the father of Florida archeology. He started it well on its way.
Wilson: John Griffin.
Fairbanks: John Griffin. I think John is a very good archeologist. He was ruined by the National Park Service, and its inability to make up its mind without having a committee meeting. So John has a number of unfinished, uncompleted, or deferred projects. I think since John has been involved in contract archeology, he’s got a lot more done than he ever got done when he was working for the Park Service, or Historic St. Augustine, or whatever.
Wilson: J. C. Harrington.
Fairbanks: J. C. Harrington has had a tremendous influence on me. It was amply justified that he received the Society for Historical Archaeology’s first issue of its memorial medal. More than anybody else, Pinky Harrington has established historical archeology as a valid discipline, not just within archeology, but within anthropology.
Wilson: Jess Jennings.
Fairbanks: Jess Jennings is a very energetic, smart, and aggressive individual. I think perhaps in many cases, too aggressive, and he antagonizes people to some extent, or has in the past. His contributions in the southeast were very considerable. A. R. Kelley left Ocmulgee in a mess, and Jennings straightened it out, and got it back on road and properly organized. His contributions in great basin archeology are very considerable, but his contributions are not outstanding in archeological theory.
Wilson: Antonio Warring.
Fairbanks: Tono Warring. He is an example of a wasted individual. He had a great deal to contribute to southeastern and Georgia archeology. But his family insisted that he become a physician. He was a good physician. When we were at St. Simons, and our son was seriously ill. Tono gave him the best physical exam of any doctor that we went to in Georgia. He was all the time talking to me on the side about archeological matters, but nevertheless, he did a good job of pediatrics. In his later years, he pretty much became a wasted individual. He wasn’t contributing really anything significant to archeology, or to medicine, or to himself.
Wilson: Joseph Caldwell.
Fairbanks: Joe, again, I think is to a large extent a wasted individual. As a result of the lackadaisical federal environment. I first knew Joe at the Kincaid field school in the summer in 1936. Joe had difficulty separating himself from the federal job situation, and then delayed finishing his formal education too long. I disagreed with a lot of the specific archeological hypothesis that Joe espoused, in Trend and Tradition. But certainly, he was a significant individual, particularly for Georgia archeology.
Wilson: Robert Stuart Neitzel.
Fairbanks: Stu was a delightful individual. He actually had insufficient academic training to assume what would have been a highly valid position in the academic sphere in teaching. He was a permanent field man in respect to archeology as a whole. I worked with Stu for a year or a year and a half on a day–to–day basis, and have a great deal of affection and respect for him. He could have been more involved in academic or museum field. He would have contributed more. He knew an awful lot, but he never passed exams, except verbally.
Wilson: Mark Boyd.
Fairbanks: Mark Boyd was a very good avocational historian. As a physician and a malariologist he contributed certainly, next to John R. Swanton, a basic understanding at the historic level. He largely restricted his interest to the Florida Indians, had particularly northern Florida Mission Indians.
Wilson: Al Manucy.
Fairbanks: Al Manucy was a peculiar individual. He really never was much interested in anything except the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. He got pushed by the Park Service into getting involved in other things like Frederica. But he was “Mr. Castillo.” That was really what he was interested in. Again, I think the Park Service did not provide real research. Research to the Park Service means answers to specific questions. What’s the caption for this particular case, or something like this. So Al’s tremendous knowledge about the buildings of the forts in St. Augustine and the military aspects of St. Augustine’s Spanish history is largely going to die with him. It hasn’t been distributed as it should have been.
Wilson: Someone needs to do an oral interview with him.
Wilson: I should work it out.
Fairbanks: I gather he’s been ill lately, or in the hospital.
Wilson: Ripley Bullen.
Fairbanks: Well, Rips major contribution to Florida archeology was the fact that he got along with the nonprofessionals. He was a lousy field technician. His excavation technique was terrible and he could not communicate adequately to students. So we never could use him, or use his skills, or his knowledge in an academic program.
Wilson: Bill Sears.
Fairbanks: Bill Sears. I don’t understand Bill. He has had a number of major research interests. His survey of the Gulf Coast area has never resulted in any significant body of information. The major publication, of course, is the one that’s coming out on Fort Center, and Ill wait to see. And I don’t understand how he’s somewhat younger than I am. Last time I saw him, he seemed to be in pretty good physical health. And why he just divorced himself from archeology in every way, so he can retire and go fishing.
Wilson: Hale Smith.
Fairbanks: Hale was an inveterate packrat, in every respect. Hale, next to John Goggin, did establish the academic program in Florida universities in archeology. He was a material and nonmaterial packrat, which I guess is one of the basic characteristics of an archeologist. I can remember when he started, and went to the surplus property warehouse, and came back with a gunny sack full of hardwood brackets for telephone poles. He bought them for only a penny a piece, and at that price, you couldn’t turn them down. He never did figure out what he was going to use them for, but he couldn’t resist collecting things. Again, I think if he had been a little more organized, the program at FSU would have been more solid during his lifetime, and after his death.
Wilson: There’s probably a lot more of your students, but I’ve only got three down. Benny Keel.
Fairbanks: No, no.
Wilson: I may be wrong, but he was at FSU when you were there.
Fairbanks: And in effect, he wrote his masters thesis on the results of a laboratory seminar he took under me, though he finished it after I left. Benny had some problems from time to time. I don’t know. I think you’d have to wait and see what his major contribution will be. His work in western North Carolina is a definite contribution. I don’t know whether we can say the same thing about his work for lAS, or HCRS, or whatever. Again, I think perhaps misdirection in the National Park Service situation stunted him.
Wilson: Jerry Milanich.
Fairbanks: Id rather not comment.
Wilson: Kathy Deagan.
Fairbanks: I think Kathy Deagan is one of two outstanding students that I’ve had a hand in. The other is Carol Erwin Mason. Certainly Deagan’s dissertation on Mestizaje in St. Augustine was the first problem–oriented dissertation in historical archeology. Its a landmark. And will remain so for a long time. I don’t know that its been equaled yet. The work she’s been doing, her ability to define sixteenth and early seventeenth century culture patterns in St. Augustine is outstanding. And I think in another ten years or so, shell be universally, or internationally recognized as the outstanding authority on Spanish colonial culture.
Wilson: You mentioned Carol Mason, as one of the other outstanding students you had.
Fairbanks: At FSU. I remember she wrote a masters thesis under me, and then went to Michigan and wrote a doctorate on Ocmulgee national monument in the historic phase. I think Carol probably is intellectually superior to any student I’ve ever had. She unfortunately came along ten years ahead of women’s liberations, and has been submerged. She married an archeologist and has not had an independent career as such. But what she has done since getting the doctorate has been very good stuff, and she hasn’t been able to have a full-time independent position.
Wilson: Any other students that you can think of?
Fairbanks: Gee, offhand, no.
Wilson: Well, I certainly enjoyed this, and I appreciate you spending the time, taking the time off.
Fairbanks: What are you going to do with It? Now, this goes into Proctors archives?
Wilson: Yes. I’ve got a release form which I will let you sign since you said you would do it. Well get a copy back up to you as soon as we get it transcribed, and you can make any corrections, and delete things it you so desire.