By Bernard K. Means

Excavations at site Lu54 in Alabama (Courtesy of Big Canoe Press).

Excavations at site Lu54 in Alabama (Courtesy of Big Canoe Press).

Access is always one of the challenges to using New Deal archaeology records for historical research or for addressing new research questions that draw on old data.  Compounding issues of access is knowing whether records of a New Deal excavation even exist—much less finding where the records are located. Some archives are working to create indices of their collections and make these readily available—especially through the internet—but often lack the resources to make the documents themselves available. I’d like to make people aware of Big Canoe Press (, a digital imprint dedicated to digitizing original documents associated with New Deal archaeology projects and making them available for a nominal fee.  The folks at Big Canoe Press have shared their first effort with me:

Meredith, Steven M. (editor)
2012 WPA Progress Report on Archaeological Investigations in Alabama, November 1936 to May 1938. Alabama’s WPA Archaeological Progress Reports, 1936 to 1942. Ashley A. Dumas and Steven M. Meredith, general editors. Big Canoe Press, Alabaster, Alabama.

I want to make it clear that this is not simply a high-quality scan of an original WPA progress report.  In addition to a facsimile of the report itself, there is a great index of research for each site mentioned in the report, with active links to a bibliography of research on these sites, including recent efforts.  The WPA progress report and subsequent offerings will be available as a download from, iTunes, and other places.  This exciting effort represents a great way to circulate important but otherwise largely inaccessible field reports and field records.