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

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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, ...
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Hanover 2004 Hardcover Revisiting New England: The New Regionalism Series. 314 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Brand new book. NEW ENGLAND. A thorough new accounting of the ... work of the controversial archaeologist Roland Robbins. 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 lackin Read more Show Less

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584654254
  • Publisher: University of New Hampshire Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/2004
  • Series: Revisiting New England
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.04 (d)

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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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
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Table of Contents

1 The road to ruins and restoration : historic preservation and historical archaeology on the road to Walden Pond 9
2 House hunting for Henry David Thoreau 27
3 Forging a new career : excavating the ironworks sites of New England 58
4 The rudiments of a scientific approach 98
5 Historical archaeology comes of age 131
6 A "Thoreau Yankee" meets the academy 169
App Archaeological projects of Roland Wells Robbins 203
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Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 10, 2014

    Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!

    Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    Good view of Robbins and Rise of Historical Archaeology

    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.

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