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Tozzer, Alfred M. (Alfred Marston), 1877-1954. Collection of Negatives, 1901-1929: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University


©2008 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 August 29

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 2004.24 (G)
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Tozzer, Alfred M. (Alfred Marston), 1877-1954. Collection of Negatives,
Date(s): 1901-1929
Creator: Alfred M. Tozzer
Quantity: 104 negatives
Abstract: This collection consists of glass plate and nitrate negatives of photographs taken by Alfred M. Tozzer during a Peabody Museum-sponsored ethnographic and linguistic expedition to the Yucatan to study the Lacandon Indians. It also includes the exploration of Tikal, Holmul, and Nakum in Guatemala for mapping purposes. The photographs capture indigenous people, artifacts, architecture, and landscapes.

Processed by:

Staff of 2007-2008 NEH grant; finding aid created by Melissa Gonzales Simmons College intern, 10/2007; edited by India Spartz, Senior Archivist, 2/2008.

Acquisition Information:

These negatives are part of the core negative collection at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University and reflect reserach and field work undertaken by the Peabody Museum sponsored expedition, Maya Ethnology and Linguistics, Yucatan and the Lacandon Indians, 1901-1905; Alfred M. Tozzer, and Exploration and Mapping of Tikal, Holmul and Nakum in Guatemala, 1909-1910; Alfred M. Tozzer and R. E. Merwin.

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 the negatives have been digitized and are on the Peabody Museum Collections Online website, researchers are encouraged to view the images online at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm .

Biographical Sketch:

Alfred Marston Tozzer was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on July 4, 1877 to Samuel Clarence Tozzer and Caroline Blanchard (Marston) Tozzer. He grew up in Lynn and after graduating from high school attended Harvard College where he received degrees in anthropology: an A.B. in 1900, an A.M. in 1901 and a Ph.D. in 1904. On April 10, 1913 he married Margaret Tenney Castle of Honolulu, Hawaii in New York. The couple had two daughters, the eldest of which, Joanne, died young. The surviving child, now Joan Tozzer Cave, grew up to stay in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Tozzer conducted his initial anthropological field work during his undergraduate summer in 1900 and 1901 in Arizona, California, and New Mexico focusing on linguistics among the Wintun and Navajo nations From 1902 to 1905 he held the American Fellowship of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Tozzer's position as Traveling Fellow for the AIA and his sponsorship by Harvard's Peabody Museum, allowed him to spend three winters living with and studying the Lacandones of Mexico and Central America. As a result, he won their confidence and gained admittance to their religious ceremonies. This field work provided material for his Ph.D. dissertation; he published results in A Comparative Study of the Mayas and Lacandones (1907) and A Maya Grammar: with Bibliography and Appraisement of the Works Noted (1921).
From 1909-1910, Tozzer led a Peabody Museum expedition to Guatemala where he studied the ruins of Tikal and Nakum. His publications on these sites in 1911 and 1913 are noted for their comparative methods and depictions of hieroglyphic inscriptions and architecture. Tozzer's cross-disciplinary training under F. W. Putnam permitted him to move easily between archaeology and social anthropology. He served as the Director of the International School of Archeology in Mexico City in 1914, and as a result, was in Vera Cruz during the U.S. naval bombardment and its six-month occupation by the United States Marine Corps.
After World War II, Tozzer returned to Harvard where he spent the rest of his professional life. Upon his retirement from the Department of Anthropology in 1949, he remained professionally active by writing technical papers of the Maya and Mexican fields of study, and lecturing on a wide variety of subjects, including general anthropology, primitive religion, social origins, and social continuities. Throughout his career, Tozzer held executive posts for many institutions and associations, including the Academic Board at Radcliffe College, Director of Harvard Alumni Association,National Research Council,Social Science Research Council, President of the American Anthropological Association, Faculty Member and Librarian of the Peabody Museum and Member of Harvard's Administrative Board. Ever the encouraging mentor, Tozzer assisted his students by ensuring they were properly housed and fed; he also helped many students either by organizing scholarships or through his own financial generosity.
In 1940, The and Maya and Their Neighbors was published in his honor, and the list of contributing authors shows eight out of ten had been students in his Mexican and Maya courses. In fact, two-thirds of his students had gone on to become specialists in the study of Mexico and the Maya. More than fifty years after his first expedition, Alfred Marston Tozzer passed away on October 5, 1954.
In 1974, the Peabody Museum library moved to a new building and was renamed the Tozzer Library as a tribute to the collections Alfred Marston Tozzer established (Mesoamerican), and his enormous contribution to both Harvard and the field of anthropology.


Scope and Content Note:

Alfred M. Tozzer's collection primarily consists of black and white nitrate and glass plate negatives taken on two separate explorations sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. The first expedition was a Mayan ethnographic and linguistic study of the Yucatan and Lacandon Indians, and the latter involved the exploration and mapping of Guatemala. Images of Panama are also represented as well as three images from the American Southwest. When indicated, negative sizes range between 3" x 4" and 4" x 5". This collection is part of the Peabody Museum's core negative collection, which is being digitized under a 2007-2008 National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Images can be viewed at the Peabody Museum's Collections Online website at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm
There does not appear to be any formal arrangement; however, the negatives are ordered by Peabody negative number and are generally grouped by expedition or location. Therefore, an artificial series based on country has been created for this collection.

Related Peabody Museum Collections:

Related Collections at Harvard University: