Friday, January 17, 2020

Notable Women of Pennsylvania Archaeology – Louise Welles Murray (1854-1931)

Continuing with the theme of notable women of Pennsylvania Archaeology, we now turn our attention to Louise Welles Murray. A native of Athens, PA in Bradford county, Mrs. Murray was by all accounts, an exceptional individual. At age 3 1/2, she entered school and at 18 graduated from Wells College in Aurora, NY while also attending the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, PA and Mr. Brown’s school in Auburn, NY. She is credited with bringing attention to the archaeological resources of Bradford County and the town of Athens, which sits at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chemung Rivers near the New York state line in northeastern Pennsylvania. She is also credited with founding the Tioga Point Museum of which she served as the director until her death in 1931.

Mrs. Murray was described as an “ardent lover of accuracy” giving her time freely so that others might share in her knowledge of the area’s early inhabitants. She was an authority on Pennsylvania history.

Louise Welles Murray (1854-1831)

Louise Welles Murray’s interest in historical research appears to have been seeded by the fulfillment of a request made by her mother that she should publish material relating to some French Refugees and their Azilum. Louise’s grandfather was Bartholomew Laporte, a French Émigré and one of the 1794 founders of French Asylum. After 14 years of research, her volume, “The Story of Some French Refugees and their Azilum” was published in 1903. A second edition was published in 1917 with additional information gathered by Mrs. Murray.

In 1882, when Native American burials were discovered in the garden plot of her home in Athens, it attracted the attention of both Louise and her husband Millard P. Murray.   For Mrs. Murray, this was the beginning of a 50-year interest in the native inhabitants of Pennsylvania. The site would come to be known as the Murray Garden site (36Br2). This site, significant for its evidence of early Susquehannock pottery, is believed to have been occupied about 1525.

A selection of early Susquehannock pottery recovered from the Murray Garden site.

Members of the Susquehanna Archaeological Expedition were invited by the Murrays to excavate their garden site in 1919. The results of which she published in two parts in the journal American Anthropologist (1921) under the title “Aboriginal Sites in and Near ‘Teaoga,’ Now Athens, Pennsylvania”.

In 1931, shortly before Louise Welles Murray’s death, she heard Donald Cadzow speak about his excavations at Safe Harbor. Cadzow encouraged her to apply for a grant to carry out excavations in the area, which she obtained with the goal of having Cadzow direct archaeological excavations in Athens. At the time of Louise Welles Murray’s death, she had recently been elected second vice president for the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology.

The Spalding Memorial Library Building which houses the Tioga Point Museum, founded by Louise Welles Murray

Throughout her professional life, Louise Welles Murray exhibited a thirst for knowledge and a desire to share that knowledge with those around her. She strongly advocated for record keeping during archaeological excavations and looked down upon the actions of those who dug sites with no care for recording artifacts or the locations from which they were found.
We hope you have enjoyed this edition of Notable Women in Pennsylvania Archaeology. It is an honor to celebrate the contributions of these pioneers in the field — Frances Dorrance, Mary Butler, Verna Cowin, Catherine McCann and Louise Welles Murray. We hope our readers recognize the significant contributions these women have made in preserving the past. We hope that you’ll be inspired to read some of their publications and learn more about our archaeological heritage in Pennsylvania.

A list of online books by Louise Welles Murray can be found through the library at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Evening Times [Sayre, Pennsylvania]
1931            Obituary for Louise Welles Murray. April 23:3. Sayre, Pennsylvania.

Kent, Barry
1984            Susquehanna’s Indians. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Harrisburg.

Murray, Louise Welles
1921            Aboriginal Sites in and Near “Teaoga,” Now Athens Part I, Pennsylvania. American Anthropologist, 23(2):183-214
1921            Aboriginal Sites in and Near “Teaoga,” Now Athens Part II, Pennsylvania. American Anthropologist, 23(3):268-297

Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology
1931            Louise Welles Murray. Bulletin of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology 2(2):1-3

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

Friday, January 3, 2020

A New Year and a New Exhibit – The 2020 PA State Farm Show

A new year has just arrived, and like every year we kick it off with our largest outreach event, the Pennsylvania State Farm Show. The largest indoor agricultural event in the United States this year is the 104th PA Farm Show, and we are busy as usual in preparations. The Farm Show begins tomorrow Saturday, January 4th and runs through Saturday, January 11th. As in past years, The State Museum of Pennsylvania’s exhibit is in the main hall of the Farm Show Agricultural Complex, across from the carousel on the MacClay Street side of the building. This year the State Museum’s exhibit will receive an update, providing a broader view of what the museum has to offer.

In the past, the State Museum’s Farm Show exhibit highlighted different Pennsylvania archaeological topics, the replica dugout canoe and our exhibit panels along with artifacts from our collections. This year the exhibit will still contain archaeological information, but it will also include information highlighting information on other galleries within the State Museum. The archaeological portion of the exhibit will highlight Pre-Contact peoples of Pennsylvania through a representation of the artifacts found in the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at the museum. The replica dugout canoe at the Farm Show is based on one in our gallery which was recovered in Mud Pond, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The original canoe was radiocarbon dated to 1250 AD. 

An exciting addition to our exhibit this year is the last known Eastern Cougar shot in Pennsylvania which represents the State Museum’s Mammal Hall. The History gallery’s hands on, T.M. Fowler “Bird’s Eye View” maps exhibit will also be present. This popular exhibit was on display last year at the museum, so if you missed it there, here is your opportunity to be captivated by images of Pennsylvania cityscapes from over 100 years ago. The Fowler maps provide a historic perspective of Pennsylvania towns from the late 19th and early 20th century and are essentially the google earth view of that period.  State Museum staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the exhibit and about the State Museum. There will be plenty of informational brochures and magazines about Pennsylvania archaeology and the State Museum available to everyone, as well as a chance to win a behind the scenes tour, so stop by to enter for your chance to win!

2019 Farm Show Exhibit

As in the past, the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) and the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council will be participating in the exhibit. Representatives will be on hand throughout the week of the Farm Show to answer questions about the activities of these organizations and membership. If you are interested in joining a local chapter of the SPA, please stop by the exhibit and receive three past issues of the SPA journal for joining at the Farm Show.

The 20-foot long replica dugout canoe has been an anchor in the exhibit for all to enjoy. Family traditions of group photos every year makes this a popular stop.  Everyone is welcome to stop by and test it out by taking a seat inside and imagining how it would have been to live hundreds of years ago with this as one of the main modes of transportation. You can take in our poster and look at the photos about how dugout canoes were made and how the State Museum’s archaeologists and volunteers made this exact replica using traditional methods and traditional stone tools.

Children enjoying the dugout canoe

The 2020 State Museum’s Farm Show exhibit will also be connected to and integrated with the Pennsylvania State Archives exhibit. The State Archives has been a part of the Farm Show for a few years now, this being their third year, and has become a key component of the Farm Show. The Archive’s exhibit provides individuals with access to dig through historic records and discover new information about their family history. This year they will also feature an opportunity to win a free DNA kit from Ancestry, so make sure to stop by and sign up!

Individuals searching archives data with staff help 

We will continue to share Pennsylvania’s natural and cultural history with all who wish to learn, so please stop by and visit us in the coming week at the PA State Farm Show. We would like to thank all of you for your interest in Pennsylvania’s history and we wish you all a Happy New Year as we continue to Preserve Pennsylvania’s Past for the Future. 

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .