Henry L. Ferguson object and excavation photographs from Fishers Island

Collection ID:
Ferguson, Henry L.
Physical Description:
17 Negatives (photographic)
This collection includes photographic negatives taken by Henry Lee Ferguson in 1934 of an archaeological excavation and accompanying artifacts on Fishers Island, New York.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection is currently unprocessed. Negatives include N20924-N20936, N21127-N21130.

Arranged by catalog number.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Henry Lee Ferguson (Henry L. Ferguson) was born on March 28, 1881 in Fairfield, Connecticut. He married Marion Benner (1890-1982) and had one son named Charles Benner Ferguson (1918-2018). Ferguson's father and uncle purchased Fishers Island in 1889 to develop it as a seasonal resort. Henry L. Ferguson therefore grew up on Fishers Island, and became interested in its history and wildlife. From 1912 through the 1920s, Ferguson collected 63 species of birds native to Fishers Island. Also beginning in 1912, although having no formal training in archaeology, Ferguson began to collect Native American artifacts with his friends Harold J. Baker, Blair S. Williams, and William Shirley Fulton.
In 1929, he began to carry out archaeological excavations on the island. In 1935, Ferguson published a summary report of his findings for the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (NMAI's predecessor museum), of which he had become a trustee. The report was titled "Archeological Exploration of Fishers Island, New York" (available at NMAI, and online on the Henry L. Ferguson Museum's website). The report notes that "possibly the results to date lack full scientific value, as proper records have not been kept." However, Ferguson's efforts served to generate interest in the archaeological record of Fishers Island. George G. Heye, Director of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, remarked that "Due to the enthusiasm and perseverance of Mr. Henry L. Ferguson, it is now made possible to present...[a] report of an island culture off the Eastern coast of the United States." The Henry L. Ferguson Museum, dedicated in 1961, houses a variety of birds and archaeological artifacts collected by Ferguson, in addition to artifacts collected during modern excavations. Ferguson died at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in New London, Connecticut on February 23, 1959, at age 77.

Mikaela Hamilton
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Henry Lee Ferguson, 1936.
Processing Information
Collection record written by Mikaela Hamilton, Archives Center intern, in 2020.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Access to NMAI Archives Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: nmaiarchives@si.edu.
Restricted: N21127-N21130 are restricted due to cultural sensitivity.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center. Please submit a written request to nmaiphotos@si.edu. For personal or classroom use, users are invited to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not modified in any way, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian. For more information please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request website.
Preferred Citation
Identification of specific item; 1934; Henry L. Ferguson object and excavation photographs from Fishers Island; image #, NMAI.AC.150; National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
United States of America -- New York -- Suffolk County -- Fishers Island Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New York (State) -- Long Island Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Museum of the American Indian
4220 Silver Hill Rd
Suitland 20746-2863