During his spare time, William Baker Nickerson investigated sites from New England to the Midwest and into the Canadian Prairies. In the course of exploration, he created an elegant and detailed record of discoveries and developed methods which later archaeologists recognized as being ahead of their time. By middle age, he was en route to becoming a professional contract archaeologist. However, after a very good start, during World War I archaeological commissions disappeared and failed to recover for many years afterward. Consequently, in spite of heroic efforts, Nickerson was unable to restore his scientific career and died in obscurity. His life story spans the transition of North American archaeology from museums and historical societies to universities, throwing light on a phase of history that is little known.