Distinguished American archaeologist, sometimes known as the ‘father of American archaeology’. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Putnam was privately educated. After pursuing various interests in natural history he became, in 1868, Director of the Peabody Academy of Sciences in Salem. Here he remained until taking the post of curator of the Peabody Museum from 1875 to 1909. During this time he was also Professor of American Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University from 1887 to 1909. Under Putnam, the Peabody Museum became a leading centre for research into early man in America. His main interests lay in two areas: the mounds of the Ohio Valley and the study of early man, and he carried out excavations at Madisonville and the Great Serpent Mound, both in Ohio.
A. M. Tozzer, 1935, Fredrick Ward Putnam. National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, 16.4