Waldo R. Wedel was born in Newton, Kansas in 1908. He grew up in and around Newton with Emil Haury. He graduated from Bethel Academy in 1928 and earned his B.A. at the University of Arizona in 1930. It was at Arizona that Waldo began his development as a field archeologist, working under Dean Cummings and Haury. He continued his education at University of Nebraska, where he was a student of William Duncan Strong, who trained him in Plains archeology and introduced him to the direct historical approach. Through an apprenticeship under Strong, Waldo conducted fieldwork in Signal Butte, Loup River Valley, and in eastern Nebraska during 1930-1933. After earning his M.A. in 1931, he enrolled in the doctoral program at University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., 1936). During his education at Berkeley, although his chief mentor was Alfred Kroeber, he was strongly influenced by the ecological ideas of geographer Carl Sauer. In the late 1930's, Wedel began to concentrate on a survey of his native Kansas, a region little known archeologically. The Kansas survey began during the field seasons of 1937 and 1938. 1n 1938, he also excavated at a Hopewell site in Platte County, Missouri. In the summer of 1946, Wedel was detailed to establish and direct the Missouri Basin Project (MBP) of the Bureau of American Ethnology's River Basin Surveys (RBS). He continued as the MBP director until 1950 and was detailed each summer to the MBP headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. He also worked at sites in South Dakota, Colorado, and the Texas Panhandle from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Except for early work for the Nebraska Historical Society and Gila Pueblo Foundation, Waldo's institutional affiliation was with the Smithsonian Institution. In 1936, he was appointed assistant curator under Neil M. Judd in the Division of Archeology, Department of Anthropology of the United States National Museum (USNM). He was made associate curator in 1942. During World War II, he was detailed for a brief period to the Military Planning Division of the Quartermaster Corps, charged with analysis of captured foreign material. In 1950, he was named curator of archeology at the USNM. In 1962, he became head curator of the Department of Anthropology, and in 1964-1965, he was acting head of the newly organized Smithsonian Office of Anthropology. He became Senior Archeologist in 1965. In 1977, he retired from what had become the Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History and became curator emeritus. He continued activity with the department until 1990 when he moved to Boulder, Colorado. He died in 1996.
Mildred Mott was born in Marengo, Iowa on September 7, 1912. She was trained in history at the University of Iowa (A.B. 1934) and in anthropology with an emphasis on archeology at the University of Chicago (M.A., 1938). She also attended University of New Mexico Jemez Field School in the summer of 1933. She conducted fieldwork under Ellison Orr at Hill Mound Group (13AM105) and Brazell's Island Bear Effigy Mound (13AM81) in Allamakee County in 1936. In the following year, she worked at the Kincaid site in Illinois. She also assisted Florence Hawley in the University of Chicago Dendrochronology Laboratory (1937-38). In 1938, she served as field director for Charles Keyes' archaeological excavation near Webster City, Iowa.
In 1939, Mildred married Waldo Wedel and afterwards accompanied him on many trips to the field. In addition, she pursued an interest in ethnohistory that she developed in school. In particular, she worked on the ethnohistory of regions where her husband was working, often taking advantage of field seasons to retrace routes of early European explorers. Thus, she carried out intensive work on French explorations in the Plains areas (particularly Jean-Baptiste Bénard, Sieur de la Harpe; Pierre-Charles Le Sueur; Claude-Charles Dutisne; and Jean-Baptiste Teuteau). She also published on Plains Caddoan origins and on the Iowa and the Wichita. In 1978-1979, under contract with the Corps of Engineers, she studied the ethnohistory of a Wichita village and French post at the Deer Creek site, Kay County, Oklahoma.
In 1974, Mildred was appointed a Smithsonian Institution research associate in anthropology. In 1985, she was one of several women honored by the American Anthropological Association for their long-time involvement in anthropology. She died in 1995.
Waldo R. Wedel (see also Appendix A: Fieldwork of Waldo R. Wedel)
B.A. from University of Arizona
Apprenticeship under William Duncan Strong at Signal Butte, Loup River Valley, Nebraska
M. A. from University of Nebraska
Assistant Curator under Neil M. Judd, Division of Archeology, Department of Anthropology, United States National Museum (USNM)
Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley
Excavation at a Hopewell site in Platte County, Missouri
Married Mildred Mott Wedel
Associate Curator, Division of Archeology, Department of Anthropology, United States National Museum (USNM)
Established Missouri Basin Project (MBP) of the Bureau of American Ethnology's River Basin Surveys (RBS), serves as Director
Served with Military Planning Division of the Quartermaster Corps
Curator of Archeology, United States National Museum (USNM)
Head Curator of the Department of Anthropology
Acting Head of newly organized Smithsonian Office of Anthropology
Senior Archeologist, Smithsonian Office of Anthropology
Curator Emeritus, retired from Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History
Continued involvement with Department of Anthropology
Moved to Boulder, Colorado
Mildred Mott Wedel
Attended University of New Mexico Jemez Field School during the summer
A.B. from University of Iowa
Fieldwork under Ellison Orr at Hill Mound Group (13AM105) and Brazell's Island Bear Effigy Mound (13AM81) in Allamakee County
Fieldwork at Kincaid Site in Illinois
Assisted Florence Hawley in the University of Chicago Dendrochronology Laboratory
M.A. from University of Chicago
Field director for Charles Keyes' archaeological excavation near Webster City, Iowa
Research associate, Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History
Studied the ethnohistory of a Wichita village and French post at the Deer Creek site, Kay County, Oklahoma
Moved to Boulder, Colorado