Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 381
Creators:
National Museum of History and Technology, Division of Historic Archeology
Dates:
circa 1952-1976
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
4.1 linear meters.
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
Records include correspondence and memoranda between Peterson and George R. Wallace, President and Treasurer of the Explorers Research Corporation; Bertrand Committee; Caribbean Research Institute; professional contacts participating in the Underwater Exploration Project; individuals interested in the History Under the Sea handbook and underwater exploration; and staff of the Department of Armed Forces History.
This collection also includes Bertrand Committee reports and blueprints for the raising of the steamboat Bertrand in 1969; photographs of Peterson, alongside explorer Waldemar A. Ayres, experimenting with the Proton Processing Magnetometer; additional photographs and illustrations of underwater shipwreck sites, artifacts, and preservation methods; original manuscripts and bibliographical information for the publication History Under the Sea; subject files concerning preservation of artifacts and use of electrolytic reduction on metallic objects; information pertaining to cannon markings and their identification; budgetary records; and proposals for the Hall of Underwater Exploration, NMHT.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Specialization within the field of underwater historic archeology was established by Mendel L. Peterson, who served as Head Curator of the Division of Military and Naval History, United States National Museum, 1948-1957; Head Curator and Chairman of the Department of Armed Forces History, National Museum of History and Technology (NMHT), 1958-1968; and Curator of the Division of Historic Archeology, NMHT, 1969-1973.
Peterson began taking an interest in underwater historic archeology in 1952, and thereafter conducted extensive research as well as headed expeditions to underwater shipwreck sites in the Florida Straits, Bahamas, and West Indies. Grants from the Explorers Research Company and National Geographic Society enabled Peterson to engineer his Proton Processing Magnetometer, an electronic searching device used for locating underwater artifacts and tested in the waters of Bermuda. When the Division of Historic Archeology was organized in 1969, emphasis on underwater historic archeology had more focus. Peterson supervised the Division's Underwater Exploration Project which, until his retirement in 1973, involved further exploration of the Caribbean and thorough research of previously discovered underwater sites.
In 1965 Peterson published History Under the Sea: A Handbook for Underwater Exploration, which remains a standard reference source on surveying underwater archeological sites and on laboratory techniques for preserving artifacts from underwater excavations.

Notes
SI Records

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 381, National Museum of History and Technology, Division of Historic Archeology, Records

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Peterson, Mendel Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ayres, Waldemar A. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Caribbean Research Institute Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Explorers Research Corporation Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hall of Underwater Exploration (NMHT) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Underwater Exploration Project Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Geographic Society (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Department of Armed Forces History (NMHT) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Underwater archeology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archaeology and history Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu