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RG5091.AM:  Frederick Henderson Sterns, 1888?-1951

Papers:  1912-1951

Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska; Cambridge, Mass.; and New York:  Anthropologist, statistician

Size:  0.75 cu. ft., 2 boxes


Frederick Henderson Sterns was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of S.H. Sterns and Minnie A. Sterns. The family moved to eastern Nebraska when Fred was a year old. He graduated from Omaha High School in 1904 and from Oberlin College in 1909. He earned a doctorate in Anthropology from Harvard in 1915. His fieldwork for the degree was conducted in Eastern Nebraska. Sterns worked on the staff of the Peabody Museum at Harvard for several years. Dr. Sterns worked extensively in Nebraska and Kansas during his career at the Peabody Museum as well as heading expeditions to Africa.

Sterns enlisted in the Army on December 9, 1917 and trained at Fort Logan, Colorado and Kelly Field, Texas. He transferred to the Omaha Balloon School and eventually shipped out to France shortly before the signing of the armistice. Upon his return to the United States, he served as a statistician with the United States Shipping Board in Washington, D.C. In 1919 he joined the engineering staff at A.T. & T., later transferring to the chief statistician’s offices where he specialized in the study of population shifts.

Dr. Sterns married Helen Irene Brickett in Southbridge, Massachusetts in 1917, and the couple had two children. Frederick H. Sterns died at the age of 63 in 1951.


This collection relates mostly to Dr. Frederick H. Stern’s work and research in the field of Anthropology. Items include correspondence, writings by Sterns, and biographical information. The correspondence consists mostly of letters to Professor Frederic Ward Putnam of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, while Sterns was on a dig in Eastern Nebraska during the spring of 1912. The letters include expense lists and some small sketches relating to the dig.

The writings in the collection include a copy of Sterns’ dissertation, The Archeology of Eastern Nebraska. With special reference to the culture of the Rectangular Earth Lodges, which was in the possession of Dr. John L. Champe. The other manuscripts and reprints of articles in this series reflect Sterns’ interest in both Native American and African cultures. Archaeological site information forms in the collection were probably created by Dr. John L. Champe or under his auspices, and may have been made to help document sites mentioned in the Sterns dissertation. These site forms along with Sterns’ field notes regarding the Arkansas River Expedition of 1917 were transferred to the NSHS Archeology Division. To view these items, patrons must contact the Collections Manager of the NSHS Archeology Division.

One photograph of Dr. Sterns with a group, taken at the Sterns Creek site (c.1948), was transferred to the NSHS photo collections.


Box 1


  1. Correspondence, 1912, 1940

  2. “The Archeology of Eastern Nebraska,” vol. I [dissertation, 1915] (see also oversize)

  3. “The Archeology of Eastern Nebraska,” vol. II [dissertation, 1915]

  4. “The Coming of the Siouan Tribes into Eastern Nebraska,” 1915

  5. “Arkansas River Expedition May to November, 1917” (transferred to Archeology Division)

Box 2


  1. “Sterns Creek Revisited”

  2. Articles and reprints, 1914-1918, 1924

  3. Article, fragment

  4. Archaeological site forms (transferred to Archeology Division)

  5. Biographical information

  6. Biographical information, Scrapbook, 1912-1935




Anthropology — Africa

Anthropology — Nebraska

Archaeology — Nebraska


Indians of North America (Great Plains)

Peabody Museum (Cambridge, Mass.)

Siouan Indians

Sterns, Frederick Henderson, 1888?-1951


07-30-2001   KFK

03-21-2006   TMM