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COLLECTION Identifier: 63-38

Hell Gap Expedition records

Scope and Contents

The expedition records contain evidence of the many activities that were carried out on site. Series include field notes, site cards, clippings, correspondence,personnel records, manuscripts and writings,photographs,reports and proposals,and financial records.

Fieldnotesare recorded in site notebooks by Irwin. As well, the collection includes copies of the site cardsgenerated by Irwin. Some personal material is included: clippings of favorite poems and some of Irwin's correspondence with friends and family members. Other correspondence details the expedition logistics and progress in letters to and from the Peabody Museum. A good deal of the personnel records document the process by which student workers were hired each summer. Manuscripts and writings contain drafts of several articles written by Irwinand Irwin-Williams. Photographic material is comprised mainly of a "photo journal" compiled by Cynthia Irwin-Williams which depicts both the archaeologists' living conditions and the excavations themselves. In more formal efforts, expedition reports and proposals drafts reveal the work that went into documenting the expedition for the granting agencies, and copious financial records show the level of accountability necessary to recoup expenses.


  • Creation: 1961 - 1968


Terms of Use

Access: Unrestricted (except for some personnel records).

Conditions Governing Use

Copying: Unrestricted (except for above).


1 collection (10 boxes; (5 linear feet); 1 oversize box)

Creator Sketch

The Peabody Museum-National Geographic Early Man Expedition at Hell Gap, Wyoming was a six-year (seasonal) archaeological study of the prehistory of the high plains of eastern Wyoming. The principal investigators on the expedition were Henry T. Irwin of the Peabody Museum, his sister, archaeologist Cynthia Irwin-Williams,and George A. Agogino of the Eastern New Mexico University. Hell Gap had continuous human occupation for 11,000 years and was an excellent site example of tool development.

The main objective of the expedition was the systematic removal of enough material from the various cultural complexes represented at the site (Folsom and Clovis, Midland, Agate Basin, Hell Gap,Cody, and the Frederick) to identify their archaeological content. The main thrust of the work was to reconstruct a lifeway on the Great Plains that existed between 9000 B.C.and 5000 B.C.The study included not only archaeological excavations, but climatic interpretations based on geology and geomorphology by C. Vance Haynes,University of Arizona, assisted by Dr. John M. Saul, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Many students also assisted on the site.

  1. Irwin, Henry T., Cynthia Irwin-Williams and George A. Agogino. 1968. "Archaeological investigations at the Hell Gap site near Guernsey, Wyoming." National Geographic Society Research Reports, 1963 Projects. Washington: National Geographic Society. pp. 151-156.
  2. Irwin, Henry T. 1969. "Archaeological investigations at Hell Gap site, Guernsey, Wyoming." National Geographic Society Research Reports, 1964 Projects. Washington: National Geographic Society. pp. 113-116.

Related Material Note

Related PM Archival Collections: Awatovi Expedition Records 995-11: Non-Awatovi Records - UP Site, Wyoming 1961-62, box 25.

Related PM Artifact Collections: Hell Gap Archaeological Collections 61-41-10; 62-32-10; 63-38-10; 64-41-10; 65-29-10; 66-34-10.

General note

Collections records may contain language, reflecting past collecting practices and methods of analysis, that is no longer acceptable. The Peabody Museum is committed to addressing the problem of offensive and discriminatory language present in its database. Our museum staff are continually updating these records, adding to and improving content. We welcome your feedback and any questions or concerns you may want to share.

Preliminary Finding Aid:

Sarah R. Demb, March 1998

Hell Gap Expedition Records, 1961-68
Peabody Museum Archives
Language of description

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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