Increase Lapham lectures on Indian mounds, 1851

Lecture Delivered January 16, 1851, before Young Men's Association and Citizens at Free Cong. Church, Milwaukee [on Indian mounds in Wisconsin]

Increase A. Lapham gave this lecture on Wisconsin's Indian effigy mounds at the peak of his research on them. His manuscript is given here just as he preserved it, including many sketches and drawings of mounds, newspaper clippings, and notes to himself. On page 48 begins a typed transcript of the lecture prepared by Lapham's daughter sometime after his death in 1875. Both the digitized manuscript and the typescript can be downloaded as PDF files by opening the drop-down menu at the upper-left corner of the viewer, labeled "document description."

Lapham began investigating Wisconsin archaeology almost as soon as he arrived in the state in 1836. In 1849 he secured funding from the American Antiquarian Society to conduct a scientific survey of Indian mounds which was published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1855. Letters he wrote while researching it, including many written from the field at the end of the day's work, are given elsewhere at Turning Points. His final published report, which included 61 engravings and 55 lithographed plates of mounds (many of them "destroyed immediately or within a few days after my survey") is online from the University of Wisconsin.

Lapham's letters from the field, this lecture, and his published book reveal how Wisconsin's first scientist performed the first careful research into the state's archaeology.

Related Topics: Early Native Peoples
Effigy Mounds Culture
Creator: Lapham, Increase Allen, 1811-1875
Pub Data: Original manuscript from Wisconsin Archaeological Society Records, 1857-1943 (Wis Mss AB), Box 1 folder 1; typescript courtesy of Rob Nurre.
Citation: Lapham, Increase Allen. "Lecture Delivered January 16, 1851... [on Indian mounds in Wisconsin]" in Wisconsin Archaeological Society Records, 1857-1943 (Wis Mss AB), Box 1 folder 1. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 9/23/2021