Sue Young Histories

Wilbert Bartlett Hinsdale 1851 - 1944

January 03, 2008

Wilbert Bartlett HinsdaleWilbert Bartlett Hinsdale 1851 - 1944 Bachelor of Science at Hiram College in 1875, he spent several years in teaching in the public schools of Ohio.** Lecturer in the medical college in Cleveland, Dean of Homeopathic Department of Medicine at Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine and Clinical Medicine. **

In addition to his homeopathic practice, and his active involvement within the homeopathic community, Hinsdale greatly valued the study of Humanistic studies as a preparation for the study of medicine:

Perhaps the greatest contribution to the archeological knowledge of the State has been made by Dr. Wilbert B. Hinsdale…

Often termed the father of Michigan archaeology, Wilbert B. Hinsdale developed and cared for the collections of the Great Lakes Division of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan from 1922 to 1944, after retiring from his position as the Dean of the Homeopathic Medical College.

Hinsdale wrote several publications on Native Americans in Michigan. Hinsdale’s papers include manuscripts, background research and correspondence related to these publications.

Hinsdale was an active defender of indigenous American history:

On the 12th of May 1925 a University of Michigan Professor called Doctor Wilbert B. Hinsdale, surveyed the lower peninsula and listed Michigan mounds by county.

Seven counties had more than 20 mounds. There were 57 mounds in Clinton County, Macomb had 25, Wayne 12, Oakland only two. Doctor Wilbert B. Hinsdale published his work in the 1925 book, _Primitive Man in Michigan_ in which he wrote, “There are fully 600 mounds still to be seen in the state and at least 500 more must have been destroyed within the last 150 years. The enclosures, usually known as ‘Indian forts,’ but probably having no connection with military usage, are also vanishing rapidly. It is the duty of the state to locate, measure, photograph and chart these structures before they disappear entirely,” Doctor Wilbert B. Hinsdale insisted…

Doctor Wilbert B. Hinsdale lamented the loss but wrote of a smaller structure still within the grounds of Fort Wayne. “Wherever these have been investigated,” he wrote, “they have proven to be burial sites arising, perhaps from an ancient custom of the Canadian Hurons who thus met to honor the bones of their dead every 10 or 15 years.

“Generally a number of skeletons in various positions have been found and with them, arrow and spear heads, stone tools, pottery vessels and in the upper strata, iron, copper and brass kettles, glass beads and now and then silver crosses, indicating the visit of a Catholic missionary.” …

Doctor Wilbert Hinsdale also studied pottery and carvings found in the 22 mounds located in Sanilac County in the Michigan Thumb and found a skull that showed evidence of successful brain surgery

Doctor Wilbert Hinsdale lamented that “It is really astounding how little we know of the many peoples and cultures which the coming of the White Men have caused to vanish”.

Doctor Wilbert Hinsdale goes onto say “In Indian mounds, in forts or enclosures, in the old pits and on ancient camping sites we find many a relic for which the archaeologist had no classificaiton, and the use of which he is ignorant. When in doubt we take refuge in the term ‘ceremonial’ and express the belief that the arcicle of carving had something to do with the religious ovservance of the tribe.” continue reading:

Carl E. Guthe, who had recently received his Ph.D. from Harvard with archaeological training in the American Southwest and Guatemala.

Guthe’s arrival in Ann Arbor was almost immediately followed by a three-year archaeological excavation project in the Philippines. Before he left, however, he established the first research unit in anthropology, the Great Lakes Division, under the direction of Dr. Wilbert B. Hinsdale, who had recently retired as director of the Homeopathic Hospital.

Hinsdale had assistance in his field investigations from an enthusiastic student who would become the first Ph.D. in anthropological archaeology at Michigan, Emerson F. Greenman. continue reading:

The Homeopathic Department of the University of Michigan.

Hinsdale wrote several books, Primitive Man in Michigan, Archaeological Atlas of Michigan, The First People of Michigan, The Indians of Washtenaw County, Michigan


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