Asa Thomas Hill, 1871-1953 [RG3562.AM]


RG3562.AM:  Asa Thomas Hill, 1871-1953

Papers:  1923-1948

Nebraska:  Archeologist, museum director

Size:  9 boxes; 4.5 cu.ft.


Asa T. Hill was born at Cisne, Illinois, November 29, 1871, the eldest of six children of David and Angela (Leak) Hill. The family moved to Logan, Phillips County, Kansas, in 1875. Here, A.T. Hill completed the fourth grade and began his self-education which was to continue throughout his life. During his early years, he traveled widely through the west and worked at a variety of jobs in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska and began to develop an interest in plains history and archeology.

In 1912 Hill moved to Hastings, Nebraska, where he joined the Jones automobile agency. During this time, he initiated personal surveys of archeological sites in the Republican Valley region of Nebraska. Much of his research was devoted to the discovery of the true location of the Pike Pawnee village of 1806 which was originally thought to be in Republican County, Kansas. In the early 1920s Hill discovered an archeological site near Guide Rock, Nebraska, which appeared to meet all geographic and chronological requirements. He then carried out excavations which further confirmed the site as the true location of the Pawnee village visited by Zebulon Pike in 1806.

Hill’s archeological work led, in 1933, to his appointment as Director of the Museum and Field Archeology for the Nebraska State Historical Society. Between 1933 and 1941, extensive surveys and excavations of sites in Nebraska and Kansas were carried out under his direction and much data was gathered on the cultures of the prehistoric and historic plains Indians. Following World War II, Hill returned to the field and continued his archeological work until 1949. He is regarded as the father of systematic archeology in Nebraska.

A.T. Hill also served as a member of the executive board of the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1926-1951, and was the author of several articles on plains archeology. In 1948 he received the Nebraska Builder award from the University of Nebraska. A.T. Hill died on March 21, 1953.


The A.T. Hill Collection consists of nine boxes of manuscript material arranged in four series: (1) General Correspondence, 1923-1948; (2) Manuscripts, 1934-1941; (3) Newspaper clippings, 1924-1940; and (4) Waldo R. Wedel files, 1930-1948.

This collection relates to A.T. Hill’s archeological research in the Great Plains region, 1925-1948 and to the various pre-historic and historic plains Indian cultures he studied. The bulk of the collection, Series 1, consist of Hill’s general correspondence while a private archeologist and later, as Director of the Museum and Field Archeology for the Nebraska State Historical Society. Included is his correspondence with associates in Nebraska archeological work and with scientists from across the nation. The manuscripts in Series 2 are of secondary importance since most of Hill’s research was subsequently published in the Nebraska History magazine.

A second major body of material within the A.T. Hill collection, Series 4, consists of the Waldo R. Wedel-A.T. Hill correspondence, 1931-1948. Wedel was a member of Hill’s field survey crews during the early 1930s and in 1936, he was hired as archeologist and assistant museum director of the Historical Society. Later that year, Wedel took a position with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington but he continued his research in plains archeology. The Wedel-Hill correspondence relates primarily to archeological research in the Great Plains and to various manuscripts which Wedel prepared for publication, many in Nebraska History. Some of the manuscripts are included within the collection.

Correspondents include: Bell, Dr. Earl, 1932-1937; Brooking, A.M., 1934-1944; Champe, John L., 1935-1946; Cooper, Paul, 1937-1945; Cook, Harold J., 1940-1941; Eiseley, Loren C., 1938-1942; Guthe, Carl E., 1934-1946; Lamb, George, 1933-1948; Metcalf, George, 1935-1948; Spence, Karl L., 1925-1938; Schultz, C.B., 1937-1948; Smith, Carlyle, 1939-1946; Strong, W.D., 1929-1941, 1945-1948; and Sheldon, A.E. 1923-1929.

Note:  See the photo component [RG3562.PH] for related images. See the NSHS Library Catalog and the Nebraska History index for various articles and publication by and about Asa T. Hill, Waldo Wedel, John L. Champe, and others. The Library/Archives division holds collections relating to William Duncan Strong, John L. Champe, Addison E. Sheldon, and others. See also the Nancy Hill McCleery collection [RG1198]. Artifacts associated with Hill’s interest in archeology are among items in the Nebraska History Museum collections. Items include ethnographic materials (pottery, bone tools, scrapers), field work equipment (compasses, measuring tape, trowels, cameras), early barbed wire, and a World War I canteen and cup. Not all artifacts in the collections are on exhibit; researchers should call for an appointment with the Museum before scheduling a visit.


Series 1 – General Correspondence, 1923-1948

Box 1


    1. (A) 1938-1947

    1. Adams, John, 1934-1940

    1. Adams, John, 1941-1944

    1. Adams, John, 1945

    1. (B) 1925-1945

    1. (B) 1947-1948

    1. Bell, Dr. Earl H., 1932-1937

    1. Braecklein, J.G., 1936-1944

    1. Brooking, A.M., 1934-1942, 1944

    1. (C) 1934-1944

    1. (C) 1946-1948

    1. Chadron State Park, 1940

    1. Champe, John L., 1935, 1946

    1. Cole-Clements, 1940-1941

    1. Cook, Harold J., 1940-1941

    1. Cooper, Paul, 1937-1945

Box 2


    1. (D) 1947-1948

    1. Deuel, Dr. Thorne, 1935-1942

    1. Dunlevy, Marion L., 1935-1940

    1. Dutton, Bertha P. 1939-1940

    1. (E) 1934-1942

    1. Eiseley, Loren C., 1938-1942

    1. Essex, Louis, 1940-1943

    1. (F) 1934-1944

    1. Farm Landowners & Tenants, 1940-1941

    1. Fletcher, Moss K., 1939-1947

    1. Fox, Lawrence K., 1930-1938

    1. (G) 1947

    1. Gladwin, Harold S., 1935-1937

    1. Goodrich, Calvin, 1940-1941

    1. Griffin, James B., 1943-1944

    1. Guthe, Carl E., 1934-1946

    1. (H) 1934-1947

    1. Haney, Ed. H., 1925-1927

    1. Harte, Everett, 1933-1934

    1. Harte, Everett, 1942-1944

    1. Hardy, A.H., 1944

    1. Harris, Donald, 1935-1937

    1. Hickey, Wallace, 1940-1941

    1. Hill, A.T. (Incoming), 1930-1932

    1. Henderson, Paul, 1944

    1. (I) – (J) 1940, 1946-1948

    1. Jones, Ivan E., 1928-1934

Box 3


    1. (K) 1934-1947

    1. Kansas, University of, 1939-1946

    1. Keyes, Charles, 1935-1946

    1. (L) 1925-1948

    1. Lamb, George, 1933-1941

    1. Lamb, George, 1946-1948

    1. Lamb Collection

    1. Landowners, 1939

    1. (M) 1933-1948

    1. Metcalf, George, 1935-1944

    1. Metcalf, George, 1945-1948

    1. Minded, Nebraska Historical Society

    1. Mott, Mildred, 1938-1939

    1. Munday, Frank, 1925-1930

    1. Miscellaneous

    1. (N) 1935-1941

    1. Newell, Perry, 1939-1941

Box 4


    1. (O) 1934-1946

    1. Office Correspondence, A.T. Hill, 1937

    1. Office Correspondence, A.T. Hill, 1938

    1. Office Correspondence, A.T. Hill, 1939

    1. Office Correspondence, A.T. Hill, 1940

    1. Office Correspondence, A.T. Hill, 1940

    1. Office Correspondence, A.T. Hill, 1941

    1. Ohio State Museum, 1930, 1941

    1. (P) 1930-1948

    1. Pawnee Indians – Stacy Matlock, 1925

    1. Pawnee Village – Hill Site, 1925-1929

    1. Photographic Files, 1944

    1. (R) 1935-1946

    1. Reckmeyer, Clarence, 1930, 1934

    1. Roberts, H.H., 1948

    1. Russell, T.N., 1933-1944

Box 5


    1. (S) 1932-1947

    1. Sandoz, Mari, Biographical data

    1. Schreiner, Matt, 1940-1946

    1. Schultz, C.B., 1937-1947

    1. Sheldon, A.E., 1923-1929

    1. Smith, Carlyle, 1939-1946

    1. Smith, E.H., 1928

    1. Solecki, Ralph, 1940-1946

    1. Spence, Karl L., 1925-1938

    1. Strong, W.D., 1929-1938

    1. Strong, W.D., 1939-1948

    1. Suttie, Don, 1936-1938

    1. (T) 1929-1947

    1. (U) 1947

    1. Upson, Fred, 1937

    1. (V) 1936-1938

Box 6


    1. (W) 1927-1948

    1. Whiteford, G.L., 1935-1946

    1. W.P.A. – Labor on Automobiles

    1. W.P.A. Investigation, A.T. Hill, 1942

    1. W.P.A. Project, 1938-1939

    1. W.P.A. Project, 1940-1942

    1. W.P.A. – Hill Collection Deed to NSHS

    1. Wright, Clark, 1936

    1. Zimmerman, Mark, 1926-1930

    1. Letter regarding Hills Auto Business written by Fred Leu, North Platte, Nebraska, 1919

Series 2 – Manuscripts, 1934-1941

Box 7


    1. “Asa T. Hill, Father of Systematic Archeology in Nebraska” by M.F. Kivett, ca. 1973

      Biography of A.T. Hill (anonymous)

    1. “Pottery of the American Indian” by Mrs. A.T. Hill, n.d.

      “Beadwork of the American Indian” by Mrs. A.T. Hill, n.d.

    1. Articles regarding University of Nebraska Fieldwork by E.H. Bell, 1936

    1. “A.T. Hill’s own story” regarding the Hill site

    1. Drafts of a 1941 speech describing the Archeological Program of The State Historical Society

    1. Miscellaneous reports of Archeological Survey Work, 1934-1941

    1. “Ancient House Sites at Meadow, Nebraska” by A.M. Brooking, ca. 1921

      “Pawnee Village Sites in Nebraska” by A.M. Brooking, n.d.

Series 3 – Newspaper Clippings, 1924-1940

Box 7


    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Newspaper clippings regarding A.T. Hill Activities, 1924-1940

    1. Miscellaneous newspaper clippings

    1. Miscellaneous newspaper clippings

    1. Miscellaneous newspaper clippings

    1. News releases

    1. News releases

Series 4 – Waldo Wedel files, 1931-1948

Box 8


    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1930-1935

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1936

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1937-1938

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1939-1941

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1941-1942

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1944

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1945-1946

    1. Wedel Hill Correspondence, 1947-1948

    1. Letter regarding Wedel Employment, 1936-1937

    1. 1933 Archeological Field Work data

Box 9


    1. “Report of field work, 1934 Archeological Survey”

      “Minneapolis I: A prehistoric village site in Ottawa, County, Kansas”

      “Salina I: A proto historic village site in McPherson County, Kansas”

      “Preliminary classification for Nebraska and Kansas cultures” (all by Waldo Wedel)

    1. Partial copies of Wedel manuscript, “Report of fieldwork, 1934 Archeological Survey”

    1. “Trait breakdown of Lost Creek site, F.6” by Wedel

      “Trait breakdown of Holdrege 3” by Wedel

      “Certain Culture Correlations in Nebraska Archeology” by Wedel

      “Contributions to the study of the plains Earth Lodge” by Wedel

    1. “Some Notes upon the excavation work in Nebraska during the Summer of 1933”

      “Nebraska Archaeology”

      “Prehistoric Earth Lodges Excavated in nine Counties of South Central Nebraska and Republic County, Kansas”

      “Preliminary Notes on the Archaeology of The Medicine Valley in Southwestern Nebraska,” 1934

    1. Broadcast Data, Waldo Wedel, KFOR Radio, 1960s?

    1. Waldo Wedel personal file, Inc. College degrees, miscellaneous correspondence and grid maps

    1. Fragmentary and miscellaneous manuscripts


Oversized Map – “Copy of Original Omaha Indian Map by Rev. James Owen Dorsey, 1877 to 1892. Copied by James R. Buchanan for Nebraska State Historical Society Museum, 1938, A.T. Hill.”


Subject headding:

Archeology — Great Plains

Archeology — Kansas

Archeology — Nebraska

Bell, Earl Hoyt, 1903-1963

Brooking, Albert Munsell, 1880-1948

Champe, John Leland, 1895-1978

Cook, Harold James, 1887-1962

Cooper, Paul Lemen, 1909-1962

Eiseley, Loren Carey, 1907-1977

Hill, Asa Thomas, 1871-1953

Indians of North America — Culture

Indians of North America — Implements

Indians of North America — Social life and customs

Kansas — Antiquities

Lamb, George Franklin, 1892-1951

Metcalf, George, 1900-1975

Nebraska — Antiquities

Nebraska State Historical Society

Pawnee Indians — History

Pawnee Indians — Social life and customs

Pike, Zebulon Montgomery, 1779-1813

Pike Pawnee Village

Schultz, Charles Bertrand, 1908-1993

Sheldon, Addison Erwin, 1861-1943

Smith, Carlyle Shreeve, 1915-1993

Strong, William Duncan, 1899-1962

U.S. Work Projects Administration

Wedel, Waldo Rudolph, 1908-1996


JEP/ht   03-08-1975

Encoded TMM   05-04-2010

Revised TMM    07/23/2021

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