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Breton, Adela, (1849-1923), Correspondence, 1915-1923, bulk: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Archives, Harvard University


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Call No.: 976-63
Repository: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Archives, Harvard University
Creator: Breton, Adela
Title: Breton, Adela, (1849-1923), Correspondence,
Date(s): 1915-1923 (bulk)
Quantity: .5 linear feet
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection consists of correspondence written by Adela C. Breton, British subject, to Ella Lewis of Philadelphia during the first World War as she traveled about America, Canada, Britain, and finally the West Indies and South America.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

These papers are a gift of Clifford Lewis, grandson of Ella Lewis. 1976

Processed by:

Patricia H. Kervick Associate Archivist; January 2010

Conditions Governing Access:

Restrictions on access: none.

Conditions Governing Use:

Restrictions on use: none.

Related Peabody Museum Collections:

Biographical Sketch

Adela Breton, an English watercolor artist, is best known for her watercolor drawings of archaeological sites in Central America. From an early age, Adela's parents supported their daughter's education and artistic studies. Her father became fascinated by anthropology and geology and these fields soon captured Adela's interest as well. After her father's death in 1887, Adela launched a lifetime of travel to explore past cultures. Her most valuable contribution to archaeology was the recording of murals in Yucatan, which she captured in paint before the air could alter their original colors. Through her diligent and skillful work, she became respected internationally as an archaeological copyist, researcher, and interpreter of the rapidly disappearing painted walls of ancient Mexico.


Scope and Content Note:

This collection contains 100 letters written by Adela Breton to her American friend, Ella Lewis of Philadelphia during the first World War as well as six additional letters from Adela Breton's brother, Harry Breton, informing Ella Lewis of Adela's death in Barbados. Adela's letters discuss the weather, health, families, World War I, different customs of the Americans and the British. Dating from 1915 to 1923, they describe her various accommodations during her travels, the libraries and museums she visits, and other travelers. Approximately 80 letters are written from the United States and Canada, where she was forced to remain due to the war and ill health. About 10 letters, written from England, describe her activities and the changes she sees after the war. The last four letters were written when traveling to South America for a scientific association meeting. At this time she became ill and was forced to remain in Rio de Janeiro to recover. She continued with her original plans, however, and upon reaching Barbados, she again fell ill and died. The remaining 6 letters were written by her brother Harry, informing Ms. Lewis of Adela's death, discussing her personality, and forwarding a family Bible.

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