From Ohio History Central
Archaeological site at Badgeley Island, Ontario, looking west, circa 1950. Courtesy of Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan
Emerson F. Greenman was born in Hartwellville, Michigan. He became interested in archaeology while studying at the University of Michigan, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1923. He earned a degree in anthropology at Oxford University in 1924 and his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1927. He was appointed Curator of the Great Lakes Division of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1927, but left in 1928 to become the Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society.
Greenman assisted Henry Shetrone with excavations at Seip Mound and directed excavations at Eagle Mound at the Newark Earthworks, Coon Mound, Reeve village, Tuttle Hill village, South Park village, and the Esch Mound.
Perhaps Greenman's most important contribution to Ohio archaeology was his definition of the Adena culture based on his work at the Coon Mound. He recognized strong similarities between the Adena and Hopewell cultures and correctly surmised that the Hopewell culture had developed from the Adena culture.
Greenman also defined the northeastern Ohio Whittlesey culture based on the distinctive series of artifacts and features that he found at the Reeve, South Park, and Tuttle Hill villages.
Greenman resigned from the Ohio Historical Society in 1935 to accept a position as Research Associate at the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology. He became the curator of the Great Lakes Division of the museum in 1945 and retired in 1965. He conducted many archaeological research projects in Michigan as well as Ontario, Canada. One of his most important contributions, however, was the cooperation he encouraged between amateur and professional archaeologists in Michigan. He was the first secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Archaeological Society and the first editor of the Society's journal, the Michigan Archaeologist.