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Maler, Teobert, 1842-1917. Collection of Negatives and Prints, 1895-1908 : A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University


©2007 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 August 29

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 2004.24 (B)
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Maler, Teobert, 1842-1917. Collection of Negatives and Prints, 1895-1908: A Finding Aid 1895-1908
Creator: Teobert Maler
Quantity: 288 negatives
Abstract: This collection encompasses the negatives of Teobert Maler's exploration of the Usumacinta Valley in Mexico and Guatemala from 1895-1905. It consists of glass plate, black and white negatives of indigenous people, artifacts, and architectural elements and ruins.

Processed by:

Staff of NEH Grant project, 2007-2008; finding aid created by Melissa Gonzales Simmons College intern; edited by Patricia H. Kervick, Associate Archivist

Acquisition Information:

These negatives are part of the core negative collection at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University and reflect research and field work undertaken by the Peabody Museum-sponsored expedition, Exploration of the Usumacinta Valley in Guatemala and Mexico, 1895-1905, Teobert Maler.

Access Restrictions:

Most views are unrestricted, except for culturally sensitive images. Permission to view culturally sensitive images may be obtained from the Peabody Museum's curatorial department.

Use Restrictions:

As negatives have been digitized and are on the Peabody Museum website, researchers are encouraged to view the negatives online at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm Search by Peabody ID # = and type in the entire 2004.24 number listed in the inventory below.

Biographical Sketch

Teobert Maler was born in Rome in January 1842. Even though he was of German/Austrian descent, his father's occupation as a representative of the Grand Duchy of Baden to the Holy See and Pope in Rome explains his Italian birthplace. When he was two, he lost his mother to a sudden illness, and his father's uneasy and depressed temperament contributed to a difficult upbringing that would later reflect in his own personality.
Teobert Maler left home at twenty years of age and moved to Austria where he became an official citizen and worked as an architect's draftsmen. After traveling to Paris and London, he enlisted in an Austrian military corps to accompany Archduke Maximillian in Mexico. He spent the next three years mostly in combat in Mexico until the demise of Maximillian. For another eleven years, Maler stayed in Mexico trekking all over, even to Palenque where he made the false discovery of the Temple of the Foliated Cross.
Upon his father's death, the Prussian government seized his inheritance forcing Teobert Maler to return home. As he awaited the case to be settled, he visited Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains. Eventually, the case settled in 1885 and he moved to the Yucatan and established a home at Tikal. Over the next ten years, he explored the Yucatan peninsula taking photographs of the ruins and creating measured plans of them. His collection of these photographs and plans would later be published in 1997 as Peninsula Yucatan.
In 1895, Maler went south to Tikal, then down the Rió Pasión, took the Usumacinta River to Tenosique, and then returned to the Yucatan. On this journey, he visited Motul de San José, Seibal, and Piedras Negras, and he took the first photographs of the sculptures at these locations. Before he could publish his Gran Atlas de Antigüedades de Mexico y de la América Central, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology sent him a proposal to explore the Lacandón forest. Maler accepted their offer and set off in 1898. Even though he visited the Lacandóns at Laguna Petha, his work was not productive. He relocated to Yucatan capital of Merida, and spent four months in Piedras Negras and three months in Yaxchilán. Already in his sixties, Maler went on expeditions to Tikal, Yaxha, Naranjo, Cancun, and Seibal. Five years before he passed away, he traveled to Europe one last time, returning to Merida.


Scope and Content Note

From 1895 to 1905, Teobert Maler explored the Usumacinta Valley in Guatemala and Mexico on behalf of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. This collection is a result of that expedition, and consists of black and white glass plate negatives depicting indigenous people, artifacts, and architectural elements and ruins, and range in size from 3 x 4 to 9.5 x 11.5. Formal arrangement is non-existent, however, the negatives are ordered by Peabody Creator Number and some of the items seem to be organized by geographic region/site. This collection is part of the Peabody Museum's core negative collection, which is being digitized under a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, 2007-2008. Images can be viewed at the Peabody Museum Collections Online website at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm Search by Peabody ID # = and type in the entire 2004.24 number listed in the inventory below.
As there does not appear to be any formal arrangement, an artificial series based on place/site was created for this collection.

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