About the Collections

The collections are numerous and diverse with over six million artifacts that date from the early 20th century to the Paleo-Indian period of prehistory (14,000 years ago). The geographical areas best represented by the collections are South-Central Pennsylvania and the eastern half of the state.

Notable Items in the Prehistoric Collection

  • Fluted spear points and hide scrapers from the Paleo-Indian Shoop Site (Dauphin County)
  • Archaic period stone tools from stratified deposits on the Piney Island Site (Lancaster County)
  • Unusually well-preserved Woodland period organic objects, such as cordage, botanical remains, and wood and bone implements from the Sheep Rock Shelter Site (Huntingdon County)
  • Woodland period artifacts, including stone tools and ceramics from the Susquehanna Valley village sites
  • Contact period Susquehannock collections, including a spectacular array of European trade objects (Lancaster and York Counties)

Notable Items in the Historic Collection

  • Artifact assemblages from Ephrata Cloister, an 18th century religious commune (Lancaster County)
  • Ceramic and glass objects from mid-18th through early-19th century Philadelphia (Philadelphia County)
  • French and Indian War period objects from Fort Loudoun (Franklin County) and Fort Augusta (Northumberland County)
  • Revolutionary War period materials from Valley Forge (Montgomery County) and the Ephrata Cloister military hospital (Lancaster County)
  • Late 18th century laboratory equipment from the Joseph Priestley House and Laboratory (Northumberland County)
  • 19th century farmstead assemblages from a variety of sites
  • Late 19th-20th century domestic artifacts from Eckley Miners/ Village, a patch town in the anthracite coal region (Luzerne County)

Ethnographic Collection

  • Approximately 250 objects made by Oklahoma Delaware Indians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Associated Records

  • Excavation records, maps, and photographs
  • More than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts
  • Research library containing approximately 10,000 volumes with emphasis on eastern United States archaeology, ethnohistory, and historic archaeology


Access to artifact and record collections requires submission and approval of a written proposal describing research objectives. Contract archaeologists, cultural resource managers, scholars, and college students regularly use The State Museum's archaeology collection.