Michigan Transportation History

Henry Gillman

Michigan HistorianFormer WPArticle Ethnologist Great Lakes Native AmericaPersonPublic

Henry Gillman (1833-1915) worked for most of his career as a librarian at the Detroit Public Library. He gained notoriety for his work as an ethnologist for which he was appointed curator at the Detroit Scientific Society?.1 As both ethnologist and museum curator, he proposed to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Harvard University a research plan to excavate Detroit area Indian mounds.2 Sometime in the early-to-mid 1870s, Gillman opened the Fort Wayne burial mound in the River Rouge area. He published his observations and conclusions at the 24th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science which was held in Detroit in 1875.3 The Peabody Museum received the artifacts Gillman recovered.

Gillman was also an advocate of phrenology and his archaeology was principally motivated by his interest in measuring the cranial capacity (and other skeletal remains) of the exhumed humans in order to draw conclusions about their racial characteristics.

Gillman also contracted as a surveyor's assistant with the U.S. Department of War; the dates of this employment are not yet recovered.

Selected Bibliography

Gillman, Henry. "The Mound-Builders in Michigan." Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Collections 2 (1880): 40-52.

Article read before the annual meeting of the Pioneer Society, 1877.

Gillman, Henry. "Peculiarities of the Femora from Tumuli in Michigan," "Some Observations on the Orbits of the Mound Crania," and "Investigation of the Burial Mound at Fort Wayne on the Detroit River, Michigan." Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 25 (1877): 300-324.

Gillman, Henry. "Certain Characteristics Pertaining to Ancient Man in Michigan." ''Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States, 1st sess., 44th Cong. (1876), 234-245.

Gillman, Henry. "The Ancient Men of the Great Lakes." Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 24 (1876): 316-331.

Reprinted: University of Michigan. Museum of Anthropology. "Anthropological Papers," no.31-32 (1967-68);
Gillman also gave a similar report of his mound-builders in the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1873.
"The Mound-Builders and Platycnemism in Michigan" reprinted from Smithsonian report for 1875 (Washington: G.P.O., 1877), and Certain Characteristics Pertaining to Ancient Man in Michigan reprinted form Smithsonian report for 1875

Gillman, Henry. "Ancient Works at Isle Royale, Michigan." Appletons' Journal: A Magazine of General Literature 10, no. 229, August 9, 1873, 173-175.

Secondary Sources

John T. Short, The North Americans of Antiquity: Their Origin, Migrations, and Type of Civilization Considered (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 167.

"Ethnological Discoveries–A Pressure of Biological Topics," Tribune Extras—Lecture and Letters Series No. 30, September 1875, 54.

A review of the 24th annual meeting of the AAAS, 1875.

Fitting, James, John R. Halsey, H. Martin Wobst. Contributions to Michigan Archaeology, p. 95. No. 32. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1968.



1. Clarence M. Burton, William Stocking, and Gordon K. Miller, The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, vol. 1 (Detroit: S. J. Clarke, 1922), 43, and Silas Farmer, History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan: A Chronological Cyclopedia of the Past and Present, vol. 1, 3rd ed. rev. and enl. (Detroit: S. Farmer & co. for Muncell & co., New York, 1890), xi.

2. James Conway, "Why Detroit's Fort Wayne is Important to Native Americans", Historical Fort Wayne Coalition, July 2010.

3. Henry Gillman, "The Ancient Men of the Great Lakes," Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 24 (1876), 316-331.

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Henry Gillman," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on June 12, 2023, at 08:55 PM EST

Page last modified on June 12, 2023, at 08:55 PM EST