The Eastern States Archeological Federation (ESAF) was founded in 1933 to bring together professional and avocational archaeologists and state archeological societies in the Eastern United States. The organization has continued to promote the field of archeology since its founding more than seventy-five years ago and, as of 2008, represents fifteen state societies and over 500 individual members.
In May of 1933 the state archeological societies from four states - Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania - met in Trenton to discuss cooperation between their respective state societies. Over the course of the following year, this group - calling themselves the Northeastern States Conference of Archeological Societies - had attracted the attention of several neighboring states. By 1935 the Northeastern States Conference had grown to include a total of seven states with the addition of Connecticut, Maryland, and North Carolina. At the Conference's 1935 meeting in Rochester, New York the name of the body was officially changed to the Eastern States Archeological Federation.
ESAF published its first annual Bulletin of the Eastern States Archeological Federation in October of 1941. This publication included reports from thirteen member societies, including Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. Membership in the Federation continued to grow throughout the twentieth century with the high point in society memberships occurring in 1972 when twenty-seven dues-paying societies were included on the Federation’s rosters. The 1972 membership included societies from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Ontario, Quebec, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as those previously mentioned. In addition to these new state members, two new societies were admitted from the previously represented states of Maine and Maryland to bring the total number of member societies to twenty-seven. Thus, by the beginning of the 1970s, ESAF included representatives from all of the states on the American East Coast and as far west as Mississippi in the south and Michigan in the North. Additionally, the Federation had become truly international with the addition of two Canadian societies.
In 1973 ESAF began publishing an academic journal entitled the Archaeology of Eastern North America . Since that time, well over thirty issues of AENA have been published. These journals have included academic articles from members and non-members and from professional and avocational archaeologists alike.
ESAF meetings are hosted annually by member societies (usually for one weekend in November). At these meetings, archeologists from across the region meet and discuss their work as well as attend ESAF’s yearly general business meeting.
Following a 1994 amendment to the ESAF constitution, the Federation began accepting individual memberships from professional and avocational archaeologists that did not belong to any of ESAF’s state member societies. These individual members receive ESAF’s annual publications - the Bulletin and Archaeological of Eastern North America - in addition to the opportunity to present papers at ESAF meetings.
"Eastern States Archeological Federation." http://esaf-archeology.org (accessed July 2, 2008)
Reid, John. "A History of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation, 1935-1976." Paper written September, 1977 for the Federation. MSS 579, Records of the Eastern States Archeological Federation, F12, I. General Records of the ESAF - 1977, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.
Additional information derived from the collection.
The records of the Eastern State Archeological Federation (ESAF), spanning over seventy years beginning in 1933, contains correspondence, minutes, programs, audiocassette recordings, publications, financial records, and other items that document the work of the organization, which was created in 1933 as an umbrella organization to promote the field of archaeology through member societies in Eastern North America.
The collection includes four linear feet of material and is divided into four series according to the type and/or origination of the material. The four series are: Series I. General Records of the ESAF, Series II. Publications, Series III. Records of the Treasurer, and Series IV. Records of the Recording Secretary. The collection includes both the official documents and publications produced by the group as well as the day-to-day working files of several members of the executive board.
Series I., General Records of the ESAF, includes three subseries. The first subseries, I. 1. Yearly files, includes files of the organization from the 1950s onward organized by year. The greatest volume of material hails from between the years 1968 and 1994. It is likely that much of what is housed in these files originated from the files of the various ESAF presidents. However, due to the number of different presidents that the organization had over this period of time, it is impossible to say whether or not all of the files were originally kept by ESAF presidents. Included in this series is correspondence between various ESAF members, officers, and vendors, copies of ESAF meeting programs and fliers, written minutes from annual meetings, and brochures from the hotels and locations where ESAF gatherings were held.
The second subseries, I. 2. Federation documents, is much smaller than the first. This subseries contains several miscellaneous documents related to the founding and management of the Federation, including three different versions of the ESAF constitution (1938, 1977, and 1994), several different editions of the document "Guidelines for Organizing an ESAF Meeting," that explains to state societies how they should go about hosting the annual meeting, and, finally, several blank pages of ESAF letterhead. The final subseries, I. 3. Membership directories, includes a sixty-four year span of membership directories compiled annually by ESAF. These directories are both useful in charting the growth of ESAF over time as well as in providing more detailed information about any state member societies in particular.
Series II., Publications, includes a nearly complete span of the Bulletin of the Eastern States Archeological Federation as well as several additional archaeological publications. The Bulletin , housed in subseries II. 1. Bulletin of the Eastern States Archeological Federation , records the proceedings of ESAF meetings and contains annual updates from state societies. (Typically, the proceedings of an ESAF meeting were reported in the Bulletin that was published the following calendar year. For example, the ESAF meeting held in Natural Bridge, Virginia from November 6-8, 1970, is recorded in the July 1971 edition of the Bulletin .) The first Bulletin (issue No. 1), was published in October 1941. After patchy issuance of the Bulletin during World War II, publication was resumed in 1945 and continued annually until the present with only a few lapses in publication. Between 1978 and 1982 the Bulletin was published without issue numbers and, when numbered issues reappeared in 1984, it appears that several numbers were skipped causing there to be no issues numbered 37 through 42. In addition to the Bulletin ESAF also publishes the academic journal Archaeology of Eastern North America which is not represented within this collection. One miscellaneous publication, the Northwest Chapter of the Iowa Archeological Society Newsletter , is housed in Series II. 2. Miscellaneous publications.
The final two series, Series III. Records of the Treasurer and Series IV. Records of the Recording Secretary, are fairly self-explanatory. Some of the items found within the files of these two officers (for example, the yearly conference programs) are duplicate materials from Series I; however, the bulk of the items found within Series III. and Series IV. are specific to the offices of treasurer and secretary. Within the treasurer’s files are yearly balance sheets illustrating the Federation’s expenses as well as bank statements for the organization’s checking and investment accounts. The files of the recording secretary predominantly include meeting minutes and correspondence. The bulk of the files in these two series originated with two long-time executive board members, treasurer Chas Bello and recording secretary Faye Stocum. Bello took over the office of treasurer from Ned Swigart in 1989 and Stocum became recording secretary in 1980.
In addition to yearly treasurer’s files, Series III. also includes a seven year span of annual dues forms from the member societies of the ESAF. These forms, housed in III. 2. Annual state dues invoices, provide useful information as to which state societies belonged to the ESAF in a given year as well as the number of individual members in each society. Series IV. also provides additional useful material in the form of thirty-three audio-cassette recordings of the general business meetings and executive board meetings of the ESAF between the years 1984 and 2001. These audio-cassette tapes are housed in Series IV. 2. Audio recordings of ESAF events.
Within this collection are several items pertaining to archeological organizations in the state of Delaware that might be of interest to local researchers. Of particular note are several pieces of correspondence (F3) that discuss attempts to further unite the three county-based archeological societies within the state. Also housed within this folder is the original application for ESAF membership sent by members of the Kent County Archeological Society. Of further interest to those researching Delaware archeology is a letter housed in Series IV. (F127) documenting the work of Delaware Department of Transportation archaeologists in New Castle county for the year 1981. These items, as well as others that go unmentioned here, help tie the records of the Eastern State Archeological Federation to another collection housed within Special Collections at the University of Delaware, MSS 578, Records of the Archaeological Society of Delaware. Additionally, the small collection MSS 580, Records of the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference, also provides an example of the work of regional archeological organizations.