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COLLECTION Identifier: 2004.15.2

Ian Graham papers


  • 1923 - 2017


5 boxes
1 oversize folder

Biographical / Historical

Ian James Alastair Graham was born November 12, 1923 in Campsea Ashe, a county close to Suffolk, England. Graham studied at Trinity College in Cambridge, but enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1942 where he spent the remainder of World War II working in radar research and development. After the war Graham received his bachelor's degree from Trinity College, Dublin in 1951.

Graham began his first research position with the Scientific Department of The National Gallery of London studying paint films and varnishes. In 1954 Graham decided to expand his photography and social skills and began travelling. Much of his photography and drawings are of places such as Coba, Naranjo, Piedras Negras, Seibal, Tonina, Uaxactun, and Yaxchilan. Graham's first visit to Mexico in 1958 sparked his interst in Maya art and archaeology.

Graham has become responsible for the recording and cataloguing of the largest collection of Maya sculptures, carvings and artworks. The result of his recordings and cataloging have been used to prevent looting and illegal art and artifacts sales and Graham even served as a consultant and witness in cases regarding looted art and artifact repatriation.

Perhaps one of Graham's most notable accomplishments is the development of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphs program at Harvard University's Peabody Museum in 1968. Shortly thereafter in 1970 Graham joined the museum team and became a MacArthur Fellow in 1981 for his preservation work. Graham received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for American Archaeology in 2004.

Throughout his extensive and impressive career, Graham published over several essays and articles, as well as a memoir of his personal life and career titled The Road to Ruins in 2010. He passed away August 1, 2017 in Suffolk, England.

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Ian Graham papers
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
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Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Museum Archives Repository

Papers in the Peabody Museum Archives consist of primary source materials that document the Museum’s archaeological and ethnographic research and fieldwork since its founding in 1866. More than 2,800 feet of archival paper collections contain documents, papers, manuscripts, correspondence, data, field notes, maps, plans, and other historical records that represent diverse peoples from around the world, and which were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or related entities. The collections also document the history or provenience, as well as the creation of, many of the Museum’s archaeological and ethnographic collections.

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