Henry B. Collins (1899-1987) began his career in anthropology as an assistant on Neil M. Judd's 1922-1924 expeditions to Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico. In 1924, he became an aid in the United States National Museum Division of Ethnology and shortly afterwards was promoted to assistant curator. He received a Masters in Anthropology from the George Washington University in 1925 and was appointed associate curator in 1938. In 1939, Collins took a position as senior ethnologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology and became acting director in 1963. When the BAE and the Department of Anthropology were merged in 1965, Collins became a senior scientist in the new Smithsonian Office of Anthropology. He was appointed archeologist emeritus in 1967.
Collins' independent field work during the early part of his career focused on the American South, in which he conducted investigations relating to the Choctaw and to areas whose cultural history was little known. Collins is most recognized, however, for his efforts in Arctic archeology. Between 1927 and 1936, he and colleagues, including James A. Ford and T. Dale Stewart, focused on the Bering Sea area and the Arctic coasts of Alaska, including St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak Island, the Diomedes, Punuk Island, Bristol Bay, Norton Sound, Point Hope, Cape Prince of Wales, the Aleutians, and the interior of the Seward Peninsula.