The Archives of Archaeology is series of 29 archaeological reports published on micro-opaque (sic microcards) in the 1960s. The production was a joint project of the University of Wisconsin Press and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). Proposed at the 1959 meeting of the SAA in Norman, OK, the series consists of publications on microcards of original reports containing primary documentation on New World archaeology. The late David A. Baerreis, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was the series editor with an editorial board that varied in membership during the life of the series. The Archives of Archaeology are a pre-computer age product created to disseminate important research in an inexpensive format that would be accessible to scholars nationwide. Access to the series microcards was by subscription- some institutions received complete sets, others only partial sets. Prior to modern computer-based library cataloging systems, it was basically up to the researcher to find a library that had the microcard report sought.
Rapid copying, dissemination, and data-storage and retrieval capability are taken for granted today, as are archivally accessible, digitized archaeological reports. While once promoted as the “wave of the future” for archival data storage, microcard technology never caught on as an archival tool. Because of the obscure microcard format, most of the pioneering reports in this series were underutilized and largely unknown to the current generation of archaeologists and other researchers. The microcard format made use of the reports difficult; there was no method to copy the reports to other media, for example. One complaint raised by one of the series reviewers in the early 1960s was the choice of microcards as the dissemination media by the SAA. Because of these limitations and others, the primary reason for the series was hampered at the start and the data underutilized.
The majority of the reports in the Archives of Archaeology series and the series itself were reviewed favorably in major professional journals. A few of the reports in the series were published in other media, but this process was highly selective. Three Archives reports are dissertations with minor unspecified changes by two of the authors. While four printed versions of the original reports were made, only two of these are still in print. Three books, now out of print, contain portions of research originally assembled by the authors from their reports in the Archives of Archaeology. Regardless, the sporadic printing of some of the reports demonstrates the importance of the series, but also underscores the need to make all of them available.
With the recent development of specialized computer-assisted scanner technology, the entire 29 volume set is now on-line, and the stated goal of wide dissemination of these data by a group of visionary archaeologists in 1959 has been achieved. The digitization of the Archives of Archaeology will serve current and future researchers by finally making these data readily accessible.
The Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (MVAC) of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L) did the digitizing of the Archives of Archaeology with a research grant the UW-L College of Liberal Studies. Many helped in various aspects of this project. They include Michael Bednarchuk, Katherine P. Stevenson and former student Kassie Praska at MVAC. John Neikirk, Society for American Archaeology, assisted with copyright information on the Archives of Archaeology. Special thanks to Anita Evans, UW-L Library Director, whose purchase of the Scan Pro 2000 for the university library made this project possible, and William Doering, UW- librarian who assisted in obtaining and transferring the original microcard set and the digitized product to and from Madison. Our thanks to the Wisconsin Digital Collection Center (UWDCC); for hosting the Archives of Archaeology on the UWDC web site, and for securing a complete set of the Archives of Archaeology to us to digitize.
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