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COLLECTION Identifier: 998-27

Hallam L. Movius, Jr. papers

Scope and Contents

The papers of Hallam Leonard Movius, Jr. (HLM) are comprised almost exclusively of materials relating to the professional life of the Harvard instructor and archaeologist, dating back to his earliest research and field notes as a Harvard undergraduate, through his prolific career, to correspondence with colleagues and former students in his later retirement years. Much of the collection reflects the archaeological work carried out by HLM as a student in Ireland, in the Burma/Java region shortly after graduation, and subsequent digs in the Ain Valley and Dordogne regions of France, as well as his significant contributions to the area of carbon-14 dating.

A full quarter of the collection (boxes 1 - 50) is made up of general correspondence to and from other professionals, as well as lay persons with a curiosity in prehistory, stemming from the relative popularity of some of his discoveries (the most notable being the "Magic Pebble" he discovered at La Colombiére, France in 1948). The correspondence series was preserved as HLM created it, although two to three separate "A-Z" runs of correspondence files were combined into one large sub-series since there was no apparent distinction among the three groups. Another quarter of the collection (boxes 51 - 63) consists of data punch cards from the extensive Abri Pataud dig (test excavation in 1953, annual summer excavations 1958 -1964) and bibliographic cards (boxes 64 - 91) written and collected throughout Movius' career on a variety of prehistoric topics. The largest group of materials, however, are the project-related records (boxes 92 - 180). Since the collection arrived roughly sorted into project-based groups, that order (whether imposed by HLM or those who cleaned out his office is unknown) was preserved.

Thus, materials are arranged into record series by project and sub-divided by records type. Within the Abri Pataud project record series, for example, there is an administrative records sub-series, a correspondence sub-series, a bibliographic cards sub-series, a financial records sub-series, a research materials sub-series, and a writings sub-series.

It should be noted that the "Ksar Akil" records series (boxes 176 -179) are a collection of Boston College Expedition records related to a Lebanese project, on which Movius acted as advisor, and which were later given to him for stewardship.

Following the Project Records group, there is a General records group consisting of materials that were not directly associated with a project. These records consist of "HLM Writings - General" (boxes 181 - 188), and "Research Materials - General" (boxes 189 - 193). These materials are, respectively, items written by HLM, and research materials used by HLM that did not come directly from, nor have bearing on any of the projects. Additionally, there is a record group of materials relating to HLM's involvement in various professional organizations (boxes 194 - 199). Subseries cross-cut records groups.

The Movius Papers also includes small groups of other materials: one box of Peabody Museum administrative materials (box 200); personal and school-related materials (boxes 201 - 204); a box of photos, illustrations and diagrams (box 205); and 3 boxes of oversized materials (box 206, 206a and 206b). All three are approximately 24" x 18" (flat). The contents of box 206 are included in Appendix A. Boxes 206a and 206b contain Movius' annotated (and re-organized) illustrations from F. Bordes' 1961 Typologie du Paleolithique ancien et moyen pasted to boards. The penultimate two boxes of the collection (boxes 207 and 208) contain school and research notebooks once belonging to HLM's wife, Nancy (Champion de Crespigny) Movius. Boxes 209 and 210 contain the 1973 thesis of Movius' student Harvey Bricker.


  • 1931-1969:


Conditions Governing Access

Unrestricted, except for fragile maps and plans.


187 linear feet (210 document boxes, 3 map case drawers, 3 oversize boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Hallam Leonard Movius, Jr. was born in Newton, MA on November 28, 1907 to a family in finance, and after graduating from the Berkshire School, came to Harvard College in 1926 to pursue a career in football. The fascinations of classes with Dr. Earnest A. Hooton in European archaeology and Dr. Vladimir Fewkes on the Bronze Age of Central Europe compelled Movius to receive his B.A. in anthropology in 1930, his Master's in the same subject in 1933, and his doctorate in said subject in 1937. A giant in the field of stone age archaeology and palaeoanthropology was launched.

Movius served as a Research Associate in Anthropology at the Peabody Museum from 1935-38, and as the Assistant Curator for Palaeolithic Archaeology from 1939 to 1941 and from 1946-49. His graduate work included field seasons in Czechoslovakia at the Neolithic village of Homolka under Fewkes' supervision; the cave of Mugharet-es-Skhul in Israel in 1932, and at Harvard's Irish Survey from 1932 to 1936 with Dr. Hugh O'Neill Hencken. He met Australian and Cambridge university archaeology student Nancy Champion de Crespigny on the Irish Survey in 1935, and they were married in the following year.

In 1937, the Moviuses went to Burma to join Helmut de Terra and Teilhard de Chardin's prehistory expedition, later joining de Chardin in Java for a tour of early hominid sites. Movius' seminal publications on the Lower Paleolithic industries of India, China, Burma and Java resulted in what was later beatified by Carleton Coon as "Movius's Line," which demarcated the great chopper/chopping tool complex from the hand axe cultures of the West by a line running through India from northwest to southeast.

During World War II, Movius was a consultant to the War Department and was commissioned 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces in 1942. He was attached to the 12th Air Force as an intelligence officer and served 37 months overseas in the Mediterranean campaign. Movius was decommissioned in 1946 with the Legion of Merit and five campaign stars. He resumed his teaching duties at Harvard and was appointed Curator of Palaeolithic Archaeology in 1948, Lecturer in Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology in the same year, Associate Professor of Anthropology in 1950, and full Professor in 1958.

In addition to his interests in Ireland and South and Central Asia, Movius' most significant work took place in Upper Palaeolithic France at La Colombiére (site of the "Magic Pebble" excavation) in the Ain Valley and the Abri Pataud rock shelter in the village of Les Eyzies in the Dordogne at which he was one of the first archaeologists to use carbon-14 dating to systematically determine the precise age of his findings. At Abri Pataud Movius was able to establish 14 different levels of occupation between c. 20,000 B.C. and 32,000 B.C.

Movius retired from his teaching in 1974, four years after a stroke and his induction into the order of the Chevaliers des Arts et Lettres in France, and from his duties at the museum in June of 1976. He died a much honored and treasured scholar on May 30, 1987 at age 79. Note


Driscoll, Edgar J. Obituary. The Boston Sunday Globe May 31, 1987.

Howells, William White. 1988. Hallam L. Movius, Jr. 1907-1987. Peabody Museum, Harvard University: Cambridge, MA.
Hallam L. Movius 1907-1987
November 28, 1907
born in Newton, MA
entered Harvard University
graduated Harvard University
married Nancy Champion de Crespigny of Southern Australia
Harvard University Ph.D. dissertation: "Late Glacial and Early Postglacial Cultures of Ireland" (published in 1942 as The Irish Stone Age)
field season- Irrawaddy Valley, Southern Burma
son Geoffrey born
served US Air Force Intelligence as Lt. Col.
"Research on Early Man in Burma" published by the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 32, Pt. 3
"Early Man and Pleistocene Society" published in Papers of the Peabody Museum, Vol. 19, No. 3
daughter Alice born
discovery of the La Colombière (Ain Valley, France) Magic Pebble, a prehistoric stone heavily inscribed with images of animals
appointed to tenured position at Harvard University's Department of Anthropology
test excavation at Abri Pataud, France
Abri Pataud summer excavations in France's Dordogne region, uncovering 14 occupation levels between 32,000 and 20,000 BC
"Radiocarbon Dates and Upper Palaeolithic Archaeology in Central and Western Europe" in Current Anthropology
suffered stroke; named Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, Republique du France
retired from teaching
retired from Peabody Museum in June
May 30, 1987
died at home in Cambridge, MA


The records are arranged in the following groups and series: A. PROJECT RECORDS group. I. Correspondence, II. Punch cards (Abri Pataud), III. Bibliographic cards, IV. Abri Pataud Project, V. La Colombiére, France Project, VI. Irish Survey, VII. Old World Bibliography Project, VIII. Russian Project, IX. Villafranchian Project, X.Burma/Java/Malaysia Project, XI.Armenia Project, XII.Carbon-14, XIII. Palaeobotany/biology, IXX. Ksar Akil Project, XX.China Project, B. GENERAL RECORDS group. I. HLM writings - general, II. Research materials - general, III. Professional organizations, IV. Peabody Museum materials, V. Personal/school related materials; C. OTHER MEDIA/ OVERSIZE MATERIALS. I. Photographs/maps/illustrations/diagrams, II. Oversize boxes; D. NANCY MOVIUS RECORDS. I. Nancy Movius notebooks; E. HARVEY BRICKER RECORDS, I. Bricker thesis 1973.

Physical Location

PM Archives; Photo Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Movius Papers were deposited in the museum over Dr. Movius' long career at Harvard University. In the early 1980s, Dr. Movius expressed his desire for his papers to be transferred to the museum archives. It was not until after Dr. Movius' death in 1987 that his records were collected from his office. The records were then deposited in the museum archives prior to donation. His widow Mrs. Nancy Movius donated the Movius Papers to the PM Archives in 1998.

Related Materials

American School of Prehistoric Research Records, PM Archives

Hugh O'Neill Hencken Papers, PM Archives

Earnest A. Hooton Papers, PM Archives

Irish Survey Records, PM Archives

Peabody Museum Excavations in Morocco, 1939-1947, negatives (for excavations at Cape Ashakar), PM Archives

Separated Materials

During processing, photographs and oversized materials were removed and stored separately. Appendix B lists the oversized material that was separated and unfolded . Separation sheets were placed in the folders in which the oversized materials were originally housed. Photocopies were made of photographs and placed with the separation sheets in the original location of the photograph. The photographs themselves were transferred to Photo Archives;Appendix C lists the rough breakdown of photo boxes A - J. Records relating to HLM's teaching have been separated to University Archives (see archivist for a file list).

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.

Processing Information

The Movius Papers were processed (arranged and described) in the summer of 1999 by a project team consisting of Project Archivist Anthony Reed and assistants Paul Mussell and Joanna Carll. The project was funded under the auspices of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the American School of Prehistoric Research, and the Peabody Museum. The project was supervised by Museum Archivist Sarah R. Demb.

The finding aid was generated from a FileMakerPro 3.0v5 database designed and produced by project archivist Anthony Reed and his assistants under the supervision of Sarah R. Demb. The finding aid has been edited by Sarah R. Demb.
Link to catalog
Movius, Hallam L., Jr. (1907-1987), Papers c.1931-1969: A Finding Aid
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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