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Proskouriakoff, Tatiana . Papers of Tatiana Proskouriakoff, 1935-1985 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University
September 1993



Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 993-25
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Proskouriakoff, Tatiana . Papers of Tatiana Proskouriakoff,
Date(s): 1935-1985 (inclusive)
Creator: Tatiana Proskouriakoff
Quantity: 3.5 linear feet (1 bankers box, 1 document box, 47 oversize watercolors and plans)
Abstract: This collection contains biographical materials, lecture notes, correspondence, research notebooks, manuscripts (unpublished and published) and drawings/plans. The records document the work of Tatiana Proskouriakoff on Mayan text, ceramics, architecture and history.

Processed by:

Elizabeth Sandager, September 1993; edited by Patricia H. Kervick, Associate Archivist; August 2009

Acquisition Information:

# 993-25
These papers were given to the Peabody Museum of Harvard University by Ian Graham ; 1993.

Access Restrictions:

Restrictions on access: Unrestricted

Use Restrictions:

Restrictions on use: Unrestricted.

Biographical Sketch:

Tatiana Proskouriakoff was born in Tomsk, Russia in 1909 to Avenir and Alla Proskouriakoff. Her family came to the United States in 1915, when Avenir, an engineer and chemist, was sent on a mission by the Russian Imperial Government to oversee the manufacture of arms produced for Russia. The family settled in Philadelphia where, during the Russian Revolution, they established permanent residence in the United States.
Tatiana Proskouriakoff received a B.S. in architecture in 1930 from Pennsylvania State College. After graduation, Proskouriakoff was employed at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where she copied meticulous drawings. Proskouriakoff's reconstruction drawing of Piedras Negras acropolis impressed a visiting archaeologist from the Carnegie Institution, who invited her to join the institution
At the Carnegie Institution, Proskouriakoff participated in the expedition to Copan and Chichen Itza as a draftsperson and illustrator. There, Tatiana Proskouriakoff contributed to the studies of the Maya by producing architectural reconstruction drawings and by providing a method of dating through a systematic analysis of glyphic data from Maya monuments. By the time she was promoted to staff member at the Carnegie Institution in 1943, Proskouriakoff became a Research Associate at the Peabody Museum, Harvard.
While at the Peabody Museum, Tatiana Proskouriakoff's major undertaking included preparing an illustrated and descriptive catalog of jade pieces from the Cenote of Sacrifice and Chichen Itza. This required sorting and restoring shattered pieces, and drawing the missing components of jade pieces based on her visual memory and knowledge of iconography. In 1958, she became an Honorary Curator of Maya art at the Peabody Museum.
Tatiana Proskouriakoff wrote several works from 1944-77 including: An Inscription on a Jade Probably Carved at Piedras Negras (1944), An Album of Maya Architecture (1946) and Jade from the Cenote of Sacrifice (1974).
Throughout her career, Tatiana Proskouriakoff won several awards in recognition for her contribution to Archaeoiogy and epigraphy including the A.V. Kidder Medal in 1972 from the Carnegie Institution for her discovery regarding Mayan hieroglyphic writing, Pennsylvania State University's nomination as Woman of the Year in 1971 and the Guatemalan Order of the Quetzal in 1984, as well as an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Tulane University in 1977.
She passed away in Watertown, Massachusetts on August 30th, 1985 at the age of 76.


Scope and Content Note:

The Tatiana Proskouriakoff Papers, 1935-1985, document Ms. Proskouriakoff's work and scholarship in the field of Mayan studies. This collection contains biographical materials of Tatiana Proskouriakoff, lecture notes (Fine Arts 121 and Anthropology 260), incoming correspondence, Carnegie Institution of Washington and National Science Foundation reports, research notebooks, manuscripts (unpublished and published), drawings, watercolors, and field plans.

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