The Man Who Found Thoreau: Roland W. Robbins and the Rise of Historical Archaeology in America

The Man Who Found Thoreau: Roland W. Robbins and the Rise of Historical Archaeology in America

4.5 2
by Donald W. Linebaugh
     
 
In The Man Who Found Thoreau Donald Linebaugh presents a succinct, articulate examination of the work of the pioneering but controversial archaeologist Roland Wells Robbins (1908-1987) and the development of historical archaeology in America. In 1945 the self-taught Robbins discovered the remains of Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond. He excavated the site, documented his

Overview

In The Man Who Found Thoreau Donald Linebaugh presents a succinct, articulate examination of the work of the pioneering but controversial archaeologist Roland Wells Robbins (1908-1987) and the development of historical archaeology in America. In 1945 the self-taught Robbins discovered the remains of Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond. He excavated the site, documented his findings, and in 1947 published a short book, Discovery at Walden, about the experience. This project launched Robbins's career in archaeology, restoration, and reconstruction, and he went on to excavate at a number of New England iron works and other sites, including the Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills in New York, Stawbery Banke in New Hampshire, and Shadwell, Thomas Jefferson's Virginia birthplace. Although lacking academic training, Robbins quickly developed remarkably sophisticated techniques for the period. However, his "pick and shovel" methods were considered suspect and increasingly frowned upon by the emerging American historical archaeological establishment. As the profession evolved, trained American historical archaeologists, according to Donald Linebaugh, too scrupulously wrote Robbins out of the history of their emerging field. With the help of previously unpublished information, the author offers a balanced assessment of Robbins and his place in New England regional history and the history of American historical archaeology. The Man Who Found Thoreau is a must-read for scholars, students, and historical archaeology buffs alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584654254
Publisher:
University of New Hampshire Press
Publication date:
11/04/2004
Series:
Revisiting New England
Pages:
314
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

"Robbins's archaeological legacy, however, has proven as controversial as his life. The ultimate worth of his meticulous records--field notes, maps, photographs, and accompanying collections--has been questioned, and in some cases, entirely written off by professionals who regard his methods as deplorable and Robbins himself as a poseur and showman. While this reputation is not entirely undeserved, particularly in terms of his later work, a review of Robbins's motives, training, and approach to excavation helps clarify both the contributions that he made to early historical and industrial archaeology and the often problematic nature of his work. -- From the Introduction

Meet the Author

DONALD LINEBAUGH is Director of the University of Maryland's Historic Preservation Program and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

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Man Who Found Thoreau: Roland W. Robbins and the Rise of Historical Archaeology in America 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While he may not have achieved the recognition he felt he deserved during his lifetime, Roland W. Robbins and his investigations on many notable sites will certainly not be forgotten, and hopefully remembered and accepted a little better thanks to a new perspective on this early pioneer by Donald Linebaugh. 'The Man Who Found Thoreau' stands as an excellent portrait of the development of American historical archaeology through one of its early practitioners, as well as an excellent companion piece to the antiquated 'Hidden America'. It contains a wealth of information on Robbins, his methodology as compared to other archaeologists and projects of the period, as well as the rapid theoretical and organizational evolution of historical archaeology in America from the 1950s to the 1970s. Linebaugh is to be especially lauded for the excellent example of how a thoroughly developed historic context provides a better understanding in which to evaluate earlier pioneering practitioners and their archaeological investigations. This volume sets a new standard for its thorough regional research on the history and development of modern historical archaeology in America.