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Fairservis, Walter A., Jr. (1921-1994) Papers, bulk, 1949-1993: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University
May 2005



Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 2004.35
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Fairservis, Walter A., Jr. (1921-1994) Papers,
Date(s): 1949-1993 (bulk)
Creator: Walter A. Fairservis, Jr.
Quantity: 40 linear feet
Abstract: Walter A. Fairservis Jr. was an authority on ancient civilizations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China. The papers include expedition records, journals, manuscript and research materials and correspondence spanning Fairservis' professional career.

Processed by:

Heidi J. Miller May 2005; edited by India Spartz, Associate Archivist, 2007 and Patricia H. Kervick, Associate Archivist; 2010.

Acquisition Information:

These papers are a gift of Jan Bell Fairservis 2004.

Access Restrictions:

Restrictions on access: None

Use Restrictions:

Restrictions on use: None

Biographical Sketch

Walter A. Fairservis Jr. was an authority on the rise and fall of ancient civilizations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China. Born in Brooklyn in 1921, Fairservis traveled throughout the United States with his mother, an actress. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology from Columbia University and a second M.A. and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
For many years Fairservis was associated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York where he first volunteered in 1941. In 1949 Fairservis led the first American archaeological expedition to Afghanistan where he discovered a long forgotten imperial city. In 1960 Fairservis led an expedition to Pakistan and discovered a large ceremonial complex which shed new light on the prehistoric Harappan civilization.
Throughout his professional career, Fairservis was associated with various institutions, including the Peabody Museum (Harvard), the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania and the Thomas Burke Memorial Washington State Museum in Seattle. In 1969 he accepted the position of department head in anthropology at Vassar College and he taught at Vassar through 1993.
Publications include: The Roots of Ancient India (1969)The Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile and the Doomed Monuments of Nubia (1962) Cave Paintings of the Great Hunters (1959) The Harrapan Civilization and Its Writing: A Model for the Decipherment of the Indus Script (1992) The Archaeology of the Southern Gobi -- Mongolia (1993) Excavations at the Harappan site of Allahdino : the seals and other inscribed material (1976) South Asian Archaeology Studies (1993)


Scope and Content Note:

Papers include: class notes, doctoral dissertation files, expedition records ( field notes, correspondence, reports and photographs), maps, object photos, drawings, financial records, grant applications, manuscripts, drafts, course material, study files, site cards, illustrations and oversize material.

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