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999-33-20/74049.1; 999-33-20/74049.2; 2000.25.1; 2000.25.2; 2001.8.1

Ricketson, Oliver Garrison, Jr., 1894-1952. Papers and Photographs, 1920-1946, bulk: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University


©2007 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 August 25

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 999-33-20/74049.1-.2; 2000.25.1-.2; 2001.8.1
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Creator: Ricketson, Oliver Garrison, Jr., 1894-1952.
Title: Papers and Photographs,
Date(s): 1920-1946.
Quantity: 5 linear feet
Abstract: The Oliver Garrison Ricketson, Jr. Papers and Photographs comprise papers and photographs of Maya archaeology, particularly the site of Chichen Itza, in Yucatan; index of ruins in the Maya area; and information on expeditions based in Belize.

Processed by:

Vernica Downey, Simmons College GSLIS intern; updated and edited by India Spartz, Senior Archivist, 2005.

Acquisition Information:

999-33-20/74049.1, 999-33-20/74049.2, 2000.25.1, 2000.25.2, 2001.8.1
These papers are a gift of Mary R. Bullard and Margaret Sprague.
1999, 2000, 2001

Access Restrictions:


Use Restrictions:



Archaeologist Oliver Garrison Ricketson, Jr., 1894-1952 was a pioneer in the study of pre-classical Mayan culture. He was best known for his excavations of Mayan ruins at Uaxactun, Chichen Itza, and Baking Pot. He was also recognized for his long-term involvement with the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW) programs in Central America.
Ricketson was born September 19, 1894 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Oliver Garrison and Margaret Carnegie Ricketson and spent his childhood on Cumberland Island in Georgia. From 1907 to 1912, he was a student at the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1912, he entered Harvard College, earning his A.B. in 1916. At Harvard, he became interested in archaeology while taking E. A. Hooton's physical anthropology course.
In 1920, Ricketson traveled to Arizona and began working on his first expeditions. The following year, he traveled to Central America for the first time, accompanying Sylvanus G. Morley of the Carnegie Institution of Washington on an expedition across the Yucatan Peninsula. Throughout the 1920s, Ricketson spent each dry season in Central America, excavating at Tulum,Uaxactun, Baking Pot,Chichen Itza, and other sites. His final Central American expedition was a 1929 air-reconnaissance expedition over the Yucatan Peninsula with Charles A. Lindbergh. When not conducting fieldwork, Ricketson continued his education at Harvard, receiving an A.M. in 1924 and a Ph.D. in 1933.
Most of Ricketson's fieldwork was conducted through the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW); in 1926, he was appointed head of the Uaxactun program. Ricketson was the first Carnegie relative (his mother was a Carnegie) to work for a Carnegie foundation and later became one of the institution's longest-serving staff members. However, his affiliation with the CIW ended under difficult circumstances in 1941, when he resigned and vowed to retire from archaeology.
While working for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Ricketson met Edith Hill Bayles, Morley's secretary during his 1925 excavations at Chichen Itza. They soon married in August 1925 and later had three children: Margaret, Mary, and Oliver. In 1941, the couple divorced, and Oliver Ricketson married Anne Riggs that same year.
After his retirement, Ricketson moved to Ricketson's Point in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. During 1949 and 1950, he went on his last expeditions, traveling with his wife by boat from New Bedford to Florida and back. In 1951, he conducted his final excavation, a restoration of the Russell Garrison for the Old Dartmouth Historical Society. The following year, on October 17, 1952, Ricketson died in Bar Harbor, Maine.


Scope and Content Note

The Ricketson Papers and Photographs, 1920-1946, document the professional work and personal life of Oliver G. Ricketson, Jr., focusing on his fieldwork in Central America. This collection contains manuscripts, publications, photographs, and field notebooks consisting of three record groups: 999-33-20/74049, 2000.25, and 2001.8.
The first record group (999-33-20/74049) contains the bulk of the collection and is divided into four series:
The second record group (2000.25) consists of two series:
The third record group (2001.8) contains a field notebook and captioned photographs of Flores and El Cayo from a disbound scrapbook.

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