Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study is a history of New Deal archaeology in the Southeastern United States from the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) archaeological projects in the winter of 1933-1934 to the end of federal relief archaeology in 1942. The federal government selected archaeology as one of its relief programs to put to work some of the many unemployed Americans during the depression of the 1930s. This study focuses on the large Works Progress Administration (WPA) archaeological programs in Louisiana and Kentucky, the combined WPA and TVA programs in Alabama and Tennessee, and the WPA and National Park Service (NPS) program in Georgia. The CWA archaeological program in Florida and the National Park Service Natchez Trace Parkway are briefly discussed. The WPA administration of its archaeological program lacked the strong national direction found in the other professional, white-collar programs such as the WPA art, writers, music, and theater projects. The WPA turned to the Smithsonian Institution and the Committee on Basic Needs in American Archaeology of the National Research Council for technical advice. The role of federal archaeology in transforming archaeologist's knowledge of the prehistory of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana is analyzed. In addition to the state archaeological programs, archaeologists developed a broad regional interest in the prehistory of the Southeast. Young federal archaeologists organized the Southeastern Archaeological Conference and the Lower Mississippi Valley Survey to supplement and integrate the data produced by the state programs. After World War II the federal archaeologists became the senior generation of American archaeologists and greatly influenced the growth of their profession. They played a major role in the development of cultural resources management in the post war period.