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COLLECTION Identifier: 41-8

Goodman, Joseph T. (1838-1917) Papers,


  • 1888-1914.



1 collection (1.75 linear feet (4 boxes); 2 oversize boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Joseph T. Goodman practiced several professions during his lifetime (1838-1917), two of which, archeology and journalism, are documented within his papers at the Peabody Museum.

Mr. Goodman's initial professional focus was journalism and writing. In 1861, he became a co-owner of the Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City, Nevada. By 1862, he had become sole owner of the newspaper (he remained such until 1874). During 1862, Joseph Goodman and Dennis E. McCarthy hired Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) as a local reporter. Although Samuel Clemens had published short stories previously, his work under Goodman's editorship at the Territorial Enterprise was credited with giving the author his initial "start" due to the extensive circulation of the newspaper on the West Coast. Goodman and Twain stayed in touch beyond their initial professional association; it is reported that Goodman offered Twain editorial advice later in his career. Mark Twain is briefly mentioned within Subseries II (Professional Material/Writings/Fiction and Journalism).

By 1883, through his profession as a businessman (mining investments, raisin vineyard), Joseph Goodman met Dr. Gustavus Eisen. Dr. Eisen shared his interest in understanding the Maya inscriptions and calendar with Goodman. Goodman's choice to decipher the Maya inscriptions and calendar established the beginning of his archeological vocation. Although Goodman credits Eisen with providing encouragement, professional contacts, and research materials, the majority of the research and its results was accomplished solely by Joseph Goodman. Goodman's research was initially guided by previously published research as well as photographic documentation of molds and glyphs. This documentation was primarily supplied by Alfred Maudslay, an English archeologist who made significant contributions to Central American archeology.

In 1893, Maudslay discussed his on-going research published in the Biologia Centrali-Americana series with Dr. Eisen. Eisen suggested recruiting Joseph Goodman to create the appendix for Maudslay's publication. To this end, Goodman visited Maudslay in England in 1895. In the Appendix, Goodman focused on deciphering the Maya calendar. The tables that Goodman compiled, which run through an entire "calendar round," are still considered valid. Additionally, in 1905, Goodman discovered a correlation between the Maya Long Count and the Gregorian calendar that is still used by Maya epigraphers. Goodman died in Alameda, California on October 1, 1917.


Series I, subseries I. (Maya Calendar Charts) is a rich variety of materials comprised of mathematical equations, tables, illustrated glyphs and printed plates which are often intermingled. For example, within one page there might be a cluster of equations situated next to elaborate illustrations of several glyphs with a descriptive paragraph next to one of the illustrations. Within this subseries, there also exists the inclusion of several photographs [folders 1.4 , 1.10, 2.6, & 5.9] which do not belong in the subseries "glyph photographs."

Some of the materials in this subseries were divided into sections by Goodman. The majority of the pages he used to divide the sections were not retained after being photocopied for preservation purposes. However, included in folder 2.6 and folder 2.7 are samples of original dividers which were created from pages of the Nouveau Journal des Voyages (1887, 1888).

There are two printed plates entitled "Reconstruction of Lunar Cycle" as well as several plates from The hieroglyphic stairway, ruins of Copan [Memoirs of the Peabody Museum, v.1, (6), 1902] contained in this subseries.

Series II, subseries II ("Memoirs") contains materials which partially document Joseph Goodman's solutions to the inscriptions of the Maya glyphs and the Maya calendar from his initial interest in 1883 through to his work with Maudslay in 1895 (folders 4.1-2). Goodman credits Dr. Gustavus Eisen (folder 4.1) with providing him with photographs, renderings and research material, and Alfred Maudslay with providing him with photographs of cast molds and inscriptions and published material in order to aid and further his research (folder 4.2).

There are several paragraphs in those folders that contain verbatim, short passages from the chapter entitled "The Archair Calendars" from the Appendix: The Archaic Maya Inscriptions. However, the inclusion of cut-out passages from the published Appendix dismisses the possibility of this material being a draft for the Appendix itself. It is perhaps Goodman's revision of the published text as part of his ongoing research or his memoirs. Several of the printed photographs within Series I, Subseries II. (Maya Glyph Photographs), have been identified as Alfred Maudslay's by Mr. Ian Graham, expert epigrapher and Associate of the Maya Corpus Program at the Peabody Museum.
Arrangement Joseph T. Goodman's papers are organized in two records groups, Professional Material and Personal Material, and in respective series and subseries, as follows: Professional Material: Series I. Research Material: Subseries I. Calendar Chart Analyses, Subseries II. Maya Glyph Photographs, Subseries III. Unidentified Research, Subseries IV. Collected bibliographic material; Series II. Writings: Subseries I. Anthropology manuscript draft(s) (incomplete) and manuscript research, Subseries II. Fiction and Journalism, Personal Material: Series I. Photographs; Series II. Printed Material.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

After Goodman's death in 1917, his wife gave Goodman's papers to Californian anthropologist Thomas Talbot Waterman who deposited the collection with the University of California, Berkeley 's Department of Anthropology. In 1929, department chair Dr. Alfred Kroeber offered the collection to Dr. Alfred Tozzer based on the importance of Maya work within the Peabody Museum. Dr. Tozzer accepted the Goodman papers on behalf of the Peabody Museum. The collection was transferred to the Peabody Museum's Archives by Dr. Tozzer and accessioned, in 1941.

General note

  1. Goodman, JosephT., 1897, Appendix: The Archaic Maya Inscriptions (Biologia Centrali-Americanaseries), v. 1-2, London: Taylor and Francis
  2. Graham, Ian, 1971,The Art of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: January 28 - March 28, 1971, an exhibition in the ArtGallery, Center for Inter-American Relations., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
  3. Morley, Sylvanus Griswold, 1919, "Joseph Thompson Goodman; September18, 1838 - October 1, 1917,"American Anthropologist, Lancaster, v. 21 p. 441 - 445
  4. Williams, George, 1985, Mark Twain: His Life inVirginia City, Nevada, Riverside, CA: Tree by The River Publishing

Processing Information

Processed by: Sheri Rosenzweig, January 2000
Link to catalog

Index of subjects

Numbers at the end of each line below denote box.folder locations.
Alexander, W. D.(William De Witt), 1833-1913
Forstemann, Ernst Wilhelm, 1822-1906
Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956
Landa, Diego de, 1524-1579
Mayo, Frank,1839-1896
Mooney,James, 1861-1921
Schellhas, Paul, 1859-

Index of authors
Remington, Carl
Goodman, Joseph T. (1838-1917) Papers,
Peabody Museum Archives

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Museum Archives Repository

The Peabody Museum Archives contains primary source materials that reflect the Museum’s archaeological and ethnographic research and fieldwork since its founding in 1866. Archival collections contain photographs, documents, papers, and records of enduring value that were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or other related entities. The collections also document the history or provenience, as well as the creation of many of the Museum’s artifact collections. To learn more about research visits at the Peabody Museum, please see

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