About the Glenn Black Laboratory
The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology is a research center within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University--Bloomington. The Laboratory was founded in 1965, primarily upon the generosity and as a product of the interest in Indiana prehistory of Mr. Eli Lilly. A significant part of the Laboratory’s operating funds comes from the Glenn F. and Ida M. Black Endowment established in 1971 and based ultimately on a gift from Mr. Lilly. Additional support comes from the General Fund of Indiana University, through the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, and from grants and contracts with various local, state, and federal agencies and commercial firms. In addition to support for the research of the Laboratory, a number of graduate students are associated with the Laboratory and receive funding for their dissertation research through Prehistory Research Fellowships. These fellowships are provided through the Angel Mounds Endowment established in 1974; it too a gift from Mr. Lilly.
The mission of the Laboratory has remained stable since it was founded more than 40 years ago. It seeks to provide an excellent research environment for scholars – students, faculty, and members of the public – who have an interest in the pre- and proto-history of the Midwest and especially that of Indiana. It also has the obligation to conserve and preserve the products of this research – collections, records, and other materials – for posterity, and to make this information available for future generations of scholars. Hence a significant portion of Laboratory resources are devoted to the curation of its archaeological collections, the maintenance of its archives, and the construction of text- and data-bases to enhance access to these materials.
The core assets of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, beyond the endowments held on its behalf by the Indiana University Foundation, comprise its collections, archives, library, and the building that houses these materials. The greater part of the collections came through a transfer of all archaeological material held by the Indiana Historical Society to the Laboratory at its foundation in 1971: included among these accessions were Mr. Eli Lilly’s personal collection (see James Madison, Eli Lilly Archaeologist, and the collections from the work of Glenn A. Black at the Angel Site (12Vg1) from 1938 to his untimely death in 1964 (Glenn A. Black, Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study, 2 vol., Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, 1967).
The transfer of the Angel site collections to the Laboratory included not only responsibility for management and conservation of the remaining unexcavated (i.e., in-ground) archaeological deposits at the Angel site, which comprise over 95% of the whole site, but exclusive responsibility, in perpetuity, for any future excavation at the site (“Angel Mounds Agreement” effective December 20, 1965, signed in behalf of Indiana University by President Stahr, by Governor Branigan and Attorney General Dillon for the State of Indiana, and signed and witnessed by others). The transfer of the personal papers of Glenn A. Black, the archaeological and historical correspondence of Eli Lilly, and their respective archaeological and ethno-historical libraries, established the library and archives at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology and were covered, in part, by the same “Angel Mounds Agreement” mentioned above. Subsequent agreements concerning the Angel Site and the Laboratory included 1) the construction of the Angel Mounds State Historic Site Museum at the Angel Site near Evansville, Indiana and the creation of the Angel Mounds Fellowship from unspent construction funds; 2) the construction of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology building and the agreement for maintenance of the building and provision of utilities by Indiana University in exchange for use of the classroom in the Laboratory building during Fall and Spring Term from 8am to 5 pm; and finally, 3) the agreement, between Mr. Lilly and Chancellor Wells, that the curator and administrative positions in the Laboratory would be funded from the Glenn F. and Ida M. Black Endowment income and the salary of the Laboratory Director will be provided from the General Fund of Indiana University.
The Laboratory maintains several important documentary holdings related to Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, and broader Midwestern USA archaeological and ethno- historical research. These include the following major areas. 1) An archive of physical (3-dimensional) objects from historic and prehistoric archaeological sites across Indiana and the broader Midwest. 2) A paper and digital archive of records related to site excavations or other archaeological research undertaken mainly by the Laboratory. The most important of these is related to nearly a century of research at the Angel Site. 3) The Great Lakes – Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Archives, which includes the primary documents on the Native Peoples of the Midwest arranged by tribe and year. Most of these documents are rare and some are uniquely found only within the Laboratory archives. We have even provided the National Archive with copies from parts of Great Lakes – Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Archives that had gone missing in their collections. 4) The James H. Kellar Library containing monographs, journals, and reprints that support the research of the Laboratory staff and visiting scholars. The current status and development during the past decade of each of these is discussed below.
The catalog of archaeological collections at the Laboratory is vast and includes nearly 10 million items and near 12 thousand accessions; it is maintained as a digital record. The largest single component of the digital catalogue is from the Angel site excavations. This comprises almost 3.5 million objects that were the product of 75 years of research at the site. Importantly, it is up to date (2007). It includes all the materials from the 2005-09 archaeological field schools as well as the pottery attribute database from Sherri Hilgeman’s 1992 doctoral dissertation, Pottery and Chronology of the Angel Site, a Middle Mississippian Center in the Lower Ohio Valley, which describes 22,383 sherds and vessels in great detail.
The Great Lakes – Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Archives was saved from destruction by Dr. James Kellar saved them from destruction more in the 1970’s. The core of this archive is 719 loose-leaf volumes of primary documents on the Native Peoples of the Midwest arranged by tribe and year. The materials in these binders were extracted from a far larger collection that includes photographic prints of holographic documents, typescripts of primary documents, and more than 1000 reels of microfilm from major collections such as the National Archives. The archive also includes The Indian Claims Commission Collection, which comprises petitioner’s and defendant’s exhibits, histories, and the various Department of Justice internal documents and findings, decisions and appeals, all bound and stored by “Royce Area.” To date, the materials relating to the Miami Tribe from 1600 to 1778 CE have been digitized and made available on the Web.
James H. Kellar Library, in addition to the Great Lakes – Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Archive, contains monographs, journals, and reprints that support the research of the Laboratory staff and visiting scholars. It comprises the professional archaeological libraries of Eli Lilly, Glenn A. Black, James H. Kellar, and Bennie C. Keel and numbers ca. 15,000 volumes. Subscriptions to 50 regional, national, and international journals are maintained and approximately 200 monographs are purchased for the library each year. The staff actively collects the so-called “gray literature,” and contract reports on archaeological work in the Midwest are added on a regular basis.