Virginia History Series
Historical Hall of Fame: William Henry Holmes (1846-1933) was an American anthropologist, archaeologist, geologist and
Born in Harrison County, Ohio, Holmes graduated from McNeely Normal College in 1870 and briefly went into teaching. In 1872 he became
an artist with the F.V. Hayden survey. After it was absorbed into the U.S. Geological Survey in 1879, he was assigned to work as a
geologist in the southwestern United States. As an artist, he was responsible for illustrative material in an atlas of the Grand
Canyon. Holmes was a noted mountain climber, and peaks in Yellowstone National Park, Mount Holmes, and the Henry Mountains of Utah
were later named in his honor.
His first published works included: "Art in Shell of the American Indians (1883)" and "Pottery
of the Ancient Pueblos (1886)". He expanded these studies into textiles, and became well known as an expert in both ancient and existing
arts produced by Native Americans of the Southwest.
In 1889 he became an archaeologist with the Smithsonian Institution's
of American Ethnology. In 1897 he became head curator of anthropology at the U.S. National Museum. From 1902 to 1909 he served
as Chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology. There he studied the Etowah Indian Mounds of the Mississippian culture in Georgia, and
in 1903,he published his "Synthesis of Pottery."
In 1910, he became chairman of the Division of Anthropology of the U.S. National
Museum. In 1920, Holmes became the director of the National Gallery of Art (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum), where he assembled
exhibits of Indian arts from the Northwest Coast.
He published many works on archæological and anthropological subjects. He
edited geological publications including Hayden's Atlas of Colorado and the eleventh and twelfth reports of the Geological Survey.
His books include the Handbook of Aboriginal American Antiquities (1919).
Grand Canyon illustration (1882)
Other published works by Holmes include:
Natural History of Flaked Stone Implements. In Memoirs of the International Congress of Anthropology, edited by C. S. Wake,
Archaeological Studies among the Ancient Cities of Mexico
(1897) Stone Implements of the Potomac-Chesapeake Tidewater Province. InBureau of American Ethnology Annual Report, pp. 13–152. vol. 15.
(1932) Random Records of a Lifetime, 1846-1931: Cullings, largely
personal, from the scrap heap of three score years and ten, devoted to science, literature and art.