When asked to write the history of the Eastern States Archeological Federation (ESAF), we were not sure where to start. After reading the Bulletins and archives, we found a lot of history and can only present highlights. At the end of the report, there is a list of the names of officers and the dates that they served.
ESAF’s beginnings were auspicious. In May 1933, the Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania archeological societies met in Trenton, New Jersey, to discuss interstate cooperation. They agreed to continue meeting yearly under the name “Northeastern States Conference and Archaeological Societies.” By the Philadelphia meetings in February of 1934, many other state societies were interested in becoming involved in the conference.
One year later, on February 23, 1935, the constitution of the Eastern States Archeological Federation was adopted at Rochester, New York. There were seven states represented at this meeting. The charter societies were from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
In 1936, the Federation established a project to compile an archeological bibliography for the Eastern United States. One thousand, three hundred, and seventy-three titles were published in 1939 under the direction of Dr. Cornelius Osgood. A number of states were encouraged to do local bibliographies at that time, and they were added to a second publication in 1948 ("Research Publication Number 1" edited by Irving Rouse and John M. Goggin). This research publication was followed by a second one, entitled "An Anthropological Bibliography of the Eastern Seaboard, Volume II" in 1963 under the editorship of Alfred I. Guthe and Patricia B. Kelly.
The history of the WWII years is limited. There is mention of yearly meetings until 1943 and 1944, when only the executive committee met, due to wartime travel restrictions. In 1941, the first Bulletin was published. It consisted of three pages with reports from 13 member societies. The six new member states included Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
Bulletin #2 was printed in February 1944. It contained an interesting article entitled "'A' Ration Books and Archaeology" by Frederick Johnson. In this article, Johnson dealt with doing analysis with the societies' backlog of material and doing library and map surveys because of gas shortages. A great number of societies suspended meetings during the war because of the draft and gasoline rationing.
The first annual meeting after WWII was held in November 1945 in Massachusetts. In 1948, the membership was increased by one when the Florida Anthropological Society joined with a membership of 30 people. The following year, in 1949, the New Hampshire Archaeological Society requested membership and was accepted.
It is unclear how many member societies existed in the early 1950's. On the cover of the Bulletins, only twelve societies are shown, excluding Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Yet Massachusetts was represented in the society report section.
In 1955, Bulletin #14 membership indicated a jump from twelve to sixteen societies. The new members added at that time included Georgia, Maryland, and Ontario, as well as Massachusetts.
In that same Bulletin, President C. A. Weslager wrote a brief history of the Federation. In this, he gave a list of officers from the beginning of ESAF, which is presented and updated below. He also discussed the protocol for voting on business matters, indicating that each society should send five voting members to deliberate on business matters at the annual meetings, plus one elected representative who became a Vice President of the Federation, and, along with elected officers, formed the nucleus of the Executive Board. This group then elected five staff directors in charge of Editorial, Research, Exhibits, Archeological Education, and Membership. These people become ex officio members of the Board and transact the business of the Federation.
In 1956, three new member societies joined the Federation, including Alabama, Michigan, and the Province of Quebec. This brought the total state membership of ESAF to nineteen.
In October of 1960, the annual meetings were held for the first time outside the United States, in Toronto, Canada. This meeting marked the tenth year of the Ontario Archaeological Society and the twenty-fifth year of the Eastern States Archeological Federation. ESAF returned to Ontario for its 1988 annual meeting.
In 1962, Tennessee was welcomed as the twentieth member society to the Federation. At the 1964 meeting, there was a tribute paid to Kathryn B. Greywacz for her work and devotion to the Federation for 31 years as Corresponding Secretary.
At the 1965 meetings, after a lengthy discussion, two more societies were added as members. The reason for the discussion was that the states of Maine and Maryland were already represented in the Federation; however, when second societies from each of these states applied for admission, they were accepted. These new members brought the total membership to twenty-three societies. In 1968 three more societies entered the Federation. They were Mississippi, Vermont, and South Carolina. In 1969 a member from Ohio joined, and in 1972 the Kentucky Archaeological Association was admitted to increase the membership to an all time high of twenty-seven.
In 1973 the first issue of "Archaeology of Eastern North America" (AENA) was published, edited by Louis Brennan. It received critical acclaim and set a high publication standard for the Federation. AENA continues to be published regularly with peer-reviewed and non-reviewed articles by many well-known archeologists.
The Quebec society became inactive in 1973 and was dropped from membership. In 1975, membership changed again with Connecticut adding a society and Maryland dropping one. The Virgin Islands Archaeological Society also applied for membership. Then, in 1976, the two Connecticut organizations joined forces as one society. In 1977, the Ontario and Florida groups dropped their memberships in ESAF.
A few other important developments took place in 1976. First, a business office was organized with a special position of Business Manager to handle the day-to-day affairs of the Federation. This office was located at the Island Field Archaeological Museum and Research Center in Delaware. Another important development was the creation of individual memberships and institutional memberships in ESAF. Also important was the establishment of a quarterly newsletter which was distributed to the individual membership. This newsletter was, however, very short-lived.
Finally, another bibliography was printed in 1977. It covered the years 1959-1976, and contained approximately 9,000 titles.
During the 1980's, many ESAF member societies started major activities, such as amateur certification, fieldschools for training members, amateur and professional awards for outstanding achievements, special lectures, displays at state fairs, increased special publications, and an archeology week.
In 1983, ESAF celebrated its 50th anniversary in Salem, Massachusetts. This meeting had the largest attendance (approx. 500) of any meeting. It brought together many ESAF participants and past officers.
In 1985, Wm Jack Hranicky organized a call-in computer network, ASVNET/ESAFNET, which allowed anyone to call in and obtain current events in archeology. ESAF teamed with the Archeological Society of Virginia to run the network.
What began in 1933 as a meeting of four states has developed into a thriving Federation of state societies and individual members. Annual meetings are held throughout the Eastern U.S. and Canada. The publications of the Federation have kept pace with the expansion of ESAF, including yearly Bulletins and the journal Archaeology of Eastern North American (AENA).
The early ESAF years provided the stable foundation for the evolution of the Federation into a greater role in archeology. It brought together anyone interested in American archeology, and as a result, ESAF has always been considered an organization of both avocational and professional archeologists.
At the 2008 annual meeting, the history and current membership of ESAF was revisited by President Charles Bello and Past-President Wm. Jack Hranicky. To learn more, view the .pdf files of their powerpoint presentations from the meetings:
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