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Charles E. Brown Manuscripts and Atlas

The Charles E. Brown Manuscripts

The Charles E. Brown Manuscripts form the core of the ASI. An examination of the papers often yields valuable detail not found in the ASI records, including maps, locational information, site histories and artifact tracings. The collection includes material created or collected by Brown between 1889 and 1945. The papers are organized by county, and are loosely divided by subject matter, civil township and date.

Several important items and collections have been subsumed within the Brown papers. Some of Increase Lapham's original survey notes and maps may be found here, as well as newspaper clippings, letters and field notebooks once owned by a variety of avocational archaeologists. Perhaps the most valuable feature of the collection is the many maps it contains.

When using the Brown Mss, researchers should be aware that the collection is somewhat disorganized. We recommend checking the entire county file for each project, to ensure that all desired references are found. Since the papers arrived on Brown's desk over a span of decades, from hundreds of different sources, it is not unusual to see a single site reported by several people using different site names. In a few instances site records have been duplicated in the ASI, because researchers did not initially recognize that two or more reports were describing the same site. Care should also be taken when using maps or site reports personally completed by Brown, as he frequently had difficulty determining which way was north.

Location: Archives- Fourth Floor
Call Number: Wis Mss HB, located in MAD 4/19/C4-5 and D1-4
Oversize materials are located in MAD 3/oversize/B3-4.
Researchers will have to specify a Box number. A finding guide to the collections is available, filed under “Brown, Charles E.”.

Charles E. Brown Atlas

Though the Atlas bears Brown's name, it was actually completed by unknown parties using his Manuscripts and the Record of Antiquities. The Atlas consists of a series of land ownership plats originally published by W. W. Hixon, Co. in 1924. Symbols indicating known archaeological sites and trails were drawn on the plats using red ink. The plats are organized alphabetically by county. A key to the symbols is located within each county folder.

The Atlas is a convenient way to visually portray sites described in the Records and in Brown's personal papers. However, the Atlas should be used with some caution. The most common error researchers make when using the Atlas is the assumption that each symbol represents a single site, located on the specific property shown on the plat. This is not always the case. For example, a hypothetical Record entry might read “Mounds north of Bear Lake”. The corresponding portion of the Atlas might then depict three mound groups at random points north of the lake. Later researchers might incorrectly assume that three mound groups were located at the precise positions shown, when in fact the symbols merely indicate that an unknown number of mounds were present somewhere north of the lake. It is thus extremely important to match Atlas symbols to their source records, rather than using the Atlas alone.

Researchers may find that they cannot match some symbols to any source record. If this is the case, then there are three possible explanations.
1. The symbol was mis-mapped. This sometimes happened when sites werelocated in irregular Civil Townships containing more than one Section with the same number, and when multiple
properties were owned by the same family.
2. The source record has either deteriorated, been lost, or was mis-filed. The Oversize boxes should be checked to ensure that the source was not filed there.
3. The symbol was placed on the map to indicate a site known to the compilers of the Atlas, but not to Brown.

Location: Archives, Fourth Floor, in four flat boxes shelved in the reading room.


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