Madeline Kneberg Lewis



  Kneberg Lewis' advice to young
   archaeologists "...try to find 
   something original"  (1992)

wpe10.jpg (12872 bytes)Madeline Kneberg Lewis, born in Moline, Illinois, was most known for her archaeological endeavors in Tennessee.  She showed talent in both music and art and at the age of 21, she went to Italy to explore  her creative abilities. Reconsidering, she returned four years later to study nursing at Presbyterian Hospital.  She continued studies at the University of Chicago where she was inspired to further her career in physical anthropology.  

Madeline had familial responsibilities and when the Works Progress Administration came along, she needed money.  In 1933 one of  the largest archaeological projects in the United States was created  by the Tennessee Valley Authority to excavate hundreds of sites  The funding came from  the WPA.   Thomas M.N. Lewis, director of  TVA, hired her  in 1938 to supervise the archaeological lab at the University of Tennessee.  As a physical anthropologist, she examined over 2,000 skeletal remains,wpeD.jpg (13818 bytes) supervised forty workers hired to analyze, process, restore, and catalogue materials from the tributaries of the Tennessee River Valley.  It was during this time that  she employed Andrew Whiteford, a University of Chicago student,  to be an artifact analyst.

  Hiawassee Island (illustrated by Madeline Lewis, 1946)

Special thank you to Dr. Nancy M. White for so generously
sharing her biographical work in press.

Links of Interest:

National Park Service
Roosevelt's New Deal
Society for American Archaeology
The Mounds of Kanawha Valley
N.A.S. Archaeologists
Eternal Flame


Lewis, Madeline Kneberg

1946   Hiawassee Island:  An Archaeological Account of Four Tennessee Indian Peoples (with T.M.N. Lewis).  The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

1992  Written interview on file.  Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Sullivan, Lynn P.

1994    Madeline Kneberg Lewis:  An Original  Southeastern  Archaeologist. In Women in Archaeology.   Cheryl Classen, ed. Pp. 110-119.  University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

1994  The Prehistory  of the Chickamauga Basin in Tennessee, 2 vols.  Knoxville:  University of  Tennessee Press.

1999   Madeline D. Kneberg Lewis:  Leading Lady of Tennessee Archaeology.  In Grit-Tempered
Early Women in Southeastern US Archaeologists
.   Nancy M. White, Lynne P. Sullivan, Rochelle A. Marrinan eds.

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  Kneberg Lewis taught anthropology in 1940 at the University of Tennessee, in 1944 she was instrumental in creating the Tennessee Archaeological Society, and in 1946 she and Tom Lewis chose to publish about  Hiawassee Island, one site in the Chicamauga Reservoir.  Madeline and Tom co-authored publications but it was she who created all the illustrations that described early life in that area.  The 1950's saw her became the first woman full professor at the U of Tennessee and being active in the planning of the Oconoluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC. in 1950.   In 1961, she was also  a driving force behind the creation of the Frank H. McClung Museum.    It was in 1995 that  the Southeastern Archaeological Conference honored her with the Distinguished Service Award. madeli2.gif (18696 bytes)After what Madeline described as the "longest courtship on earth" her colleague Tom Lewis became her spouse in 1961.

Kneberg working at TVA  (Sullivan, 1994)  

Dr. Andrew Whiteford, who was greatly influenced by Kneberg Lewis, remembers, "She rescued me...a breath of fresh air at the University of Chicago...inculcated me with 'Chicagoeese'...Madeline made the best spaghetti-during fieldwork-a big pot  of spaghetti would simmer all night long-she was the spark that held the group together...she was constantly creating, having many ideas..."

Her  approach to archaeology was unique. She presented her perception of prehistoric life, not only to the theoretical scholars of archaeology, but also to the layman, through her sculpture and illustrations, as well as through the material remains and artifacts.  We celebrate Madeline Kneberg Lewis, sculptress, artist, opera singer, nurse, educator, and major contributor to archaeological research. 

wpeA.jpg (14063 bytes)
Early Historic Creek Costume
(illustrated by Madeline Lewis)

Selected works by Kneberg, Madeline:

1935  Improved Technique for Hair Examination.  American Journal of Physical Anthropology 20:15-67.

1941  Prehistory of the Chicamauga Basin in Tennessee (with T.M.N. Lewis).  University of  Tennessee, Division of Anthropology, Tennessee Anthropological Papers No.1  (Mimeographed).

1945  The Persistent Potsherd.  Tennessee Archaeologist,    vol.1(4):4-5.

1946  Hiawassee Island:  An Archaeological Account of Four Tennessee Indian Peoples (with T.M.N. Lewis).  The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

1954  Oconoluftee Indian Village: An Interpretation of a Cherokee Community of 1750 (with T.M.N. Lewis). Cherokee Historical Association, Cherokee, North Carolina.

1961a  Eva: An Archaic Site (with T.M.N. Lewis).   University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.