American geologist and antiquarian who began his professional career as a geological illustrator. In the late 1880s and early 1890s he carried out a survey of the Palaeolithic material in North America and concluded (wrongly, as it later transpired) that the supposed Palaeolithic material was the refuse of Indian toolmakers. His draughtsmanship and systematic survey methods allowed him to produce detailed classifications of aboriginal pottery in the eastern USA (published in 1903) and studies of ancient ruins in Mexico. He later became head of the Bureau of American Ethnology.
D. J. Meltzer and R. C. Dunnell (eds.), 1992, The archaeology of William Henry Holmes. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution