Archaeological Collections

Archaeological Collections

Among the more than one million items in the Haffenreffer Museum Collections Research Center's holdings are nearly 73,000 archaeological artifacts. Strongest in native North American material, the Center also curates significant holdings from Latin America, as well as smaller numbers from other culture areas, including:

  • 69,966 objects from North America. Click here for a summary of the New England collections
  • 1805 objects from South America
  • 729 objects from Central America
  • 399 objects from Europe
  • 40 objects from Africa
  • 5 objects from Oceania
  • 39 objects from other areas

The Haffenreffer Museum Collections Research Center is also a federally-designated repository for 800,000 archaeological objects excavated by Arctic researchers from National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in Alaska.

While current facilities limit the number of objects on display at any one time, the collections are available to qualified researchers. The Center has nearly completed entering the catalogue onto a computerized data base, allowing for easy search and reporting on the collection. For research access, please contact the Museum at  or (401) 863-5700.

Summary of New England Archaeological Collections

Below is a summary of New England archaeological material in the Research Center collections. For more information, please see the Museum's publications A Guide to Rhode Island Archaeological Collections and Burr's Hill.

  • Anthony Collection -  Native American artifacts, mostly from the Bristol, RI area. Collected by Edward Anthony and acquired by the Museum before 1928. Includes unusual items such as boat stones, pipes and a steatite goblet. Collector's records unknown. (Catalog series of Rhode Island artifacts, 7110-7131 and 7229-7262).
  • Bannister Cache - Cache of 46 flaked stone hoe-like implements found near Silver Lake in Wakefield, RI. Found in 1927 and acquired 1928. (Catalog No. 1/43).
  • Bigelow Collection - Thousands of Native American artifacts located to town, farm, or site. Collected and acquired prior to 1928. Collector's records unknown. (Catalog number series overlaps with Richardson Collection.)
  • Brooks Collection - Seventeen artifacts of steatite including pipes, bowls, and one "ceremonial" from the Oaklawn Steatite Quarry. Collected 1946-47 by Perry Brooks, acquired 1952 (uncataloged). Artifact drawings and letter by collector. Reports on this site, Dunn: 1945 and Fowler: 1967.
  • Samuel King Collection - Artifacts attributed to town or better, mostly from the vicinity of Warwick, R.I.. Includes unusual forms such as a carved human effigy. Collected prior to 1928 and purchased in that year. Selected items published in Chapin: 1926.
  • Mount Hope Narrows site - Material obtained by R. Haffenreffer and F. Saville in 1928. Shell, bone and stone artifacts (Catalog Nos. 9002-9099).
  • Richardson Collection - Four thousand artifacts from Southern New England, mostly located to town or better (see Riverside Cache). Collected by Clarence Richardson before 1927 and acquired in that year. Collector's records unknown (Catalog series of Rhode Island artifacts 1 to 3652 and 4602 4651. Series overlaps Bigelow Collection).
  • Riverside Cache - Cache of 48 uniform felsite bifaces of the Mansion Inn variety. Part of the Richardson collection. Found in Riverside.
  • Tinkham Collection - Over 900 artifacts provenienced to town, farm, or site, mostly from Warwick, RI. Collected by Selwyn Tinkham the 1930's. Acquired 1976. Illustrated collector's catalog . Catalog Nos. 76-53 to 76-974).
  • Wheeler Collection - Historic and Contact Period artifacts provenienced to town, farm, or site and collected or acquired by Harrie Wheeler. Two collections: first collected prior to 1928 and acquired that year, second collected between 1928 and 1950 and acquired in 1985. Two original catalogs. Selected items published in Chapin: 1924. (Catalog Nos. of Rhode Island artifacts 1/781 to 1/925, 85-176 to 140 and 85-800 to 839).


Chapin, Howard M. "Indian Implements found in Rhode Island" in Rhode Island Historical Society Collections Vol. XVII (4). 1924.

Chapin, Howard. M. "Unusual Indian Implements Found in Rhode Island" in Rhode Island Histrical Society Collections Vol. XIX (4): 117-128. 1926.

Dunn, Gerald C. "The Oaklawn Soapstone Quarry" in Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, 5(4):49-51. 1945.

Fowler, William S. "Oaklawn Quarry: Stone Bowl and Pipe Making" in Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, 29(1):1-15. 1967.