The study of underwater historic archeology at the Smithsonian was begun in 1952 by Mendel Peterson. The work was first carried out under the auspices of the Divisions of Military and Naval History. A Division of Historic Archaeology was officially established in 1969. Studies of shipwrecks in the Florida Straits, the Bahamas, and the West Indies were undertaken. On Peterson's retirement in 1973 the Division was formally abolished.
Divisional staff consisted of Mendel Peterson, Associate Curator and Curator of the Divisions of Military and Naval History, 1948-1957; Head Curator of the Department of History, 1951-1957; Head Curator and Chairman of the Department of Armed Forces History, 1957-1969; and Curator of the Division of Historic Archaeology, 1969-1973.
Revised: August 29, 2002