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COLLECTION Identifier: 2004.24 (G)

Alfred Marston Tozzer collection of negatives


This collection consists of glass plate and nitrate negatives of photographs taken by Alfred M. Tozzer during a Peabody Museum-sponsored ethnographic and linguistic expedition to the Yucatan to study the Lacandon Indians. It also includes the exploration of Tikal, Holmul, and Nakum in Guatemala for mapping purposes. The photographs capture indigenous people, artifacts, architecture, and landscapes.


  • 1901 - 1929

Conditions Governing Access

Most views are unrestricted except for culturally sensitive images. Permission to view culturally sensitive images may be obtained from the Peabody Museum's curatorial department.

Conditions Governing Use

As the negatives have been digitized and are on the Peabody Museum Collections Online website, researchers are encouraged to view the images online at .


104 negatives (photographs)
Alfred M. Tozzer's collection primarily consists of black and white nitrate and glass plate negatives taken on two separate explorations sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. The first expedition was a Mayan ethnographic and linguistic study of the Yucatan and Lacandon Indians, and the latter involved the exploration and mapping of Guatemala. Images of Panama are also represented as well as three images from the American Southwest. When indicated, negative sizes range between 3" x 4" and 4" x 5". This collection is part of the Peabody Museum's core negative collection, which is being digitized under a 2007-2008 National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Images can be viewed at the Peabody Museum's Collections Online website at

Biographical Sketch:

Alfred Marston Tozzer was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on July 4, 1877 to Samuel Clarence Tozzer and Caroline Blanchard (Marston) Tozzer. He grew up in Lynn and after graduating from high school attended Harvard College where he received degrees in anthropology: an A.B. in 1900, an A.M. in 1901 and a Ph.D. in 1904. On April 10, 1913 he married Margaret Tenney Castle of Honolulu, Hawaii in New York. The couple had two daughters, the eldest of which, Joanne, died young. The surviving child, now Joan Tozzer Cave, grew up to stay in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Tozzer conducted his initial anthropological field work during his undergraduate summer in 1900 and 1901 in Arizona, California, and New Mexico focusing on linguistics among the Wintun and Navajo nations From 1902 to 1905 he held the American Fellowship of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Tozzer's position as Traveling Fellow for the AIA and his sponsorship by Harvard's Peabody Museum, allowed him to spend three winters living with and studying the Lacandones of Mexico and Central America. As a result, he won their confidence and gained admittance to their religious ceremonies. This field work provided material for his Ph.D. dissertation; he published results in A Comparative Study of the Mayas and Lacandones (1907) and A Maya Grammar: with Bibliography and Appraisement of the Works Noted (1921).

From 1909-1910, Tozzer led a Peabody Museum expedition to Guatemala where he studied the ruins of Tikal and Nakum. His publications on these sites in 1911 and 1913 are noted for their comparative methods and depictions of hieroglyphic inscriptions and architecture. Tozzer's cross-disciplinary training under F. W. Putnam permitted him to move easily between archaeology and social anthropology. He served as the Director of the International School of Archeology in Mexico City in 1914, and as a result, was in Vera Cruz during the U.S. naval bombardment and its six-month occupation by the United States Marine Corps.

After World War II, Tozzer returned to Harvard where he spent the rest of his professional life. Upon his retirement from the Department of Anthropology in 1949, he remained professionally active by writing technical papers of the Maya and Mexican fields of study, and lecturing on a wide variety of subjects, including general anthropology, primitive religion, social origins, and social continuities. Throughout his career, Tozzer held executive posts for many institutions and associations, including the Academic Board at Radcliffe College, Director of Harvard Alumni Association,National Research Council,Social Science Research Council, President of the American Anthropological Association, Faculty Member and Librarian of the Peabody Museum and Member of Harvard's Administrative Board. Ever the encouraging mentor, Tozzer assisted his students by ensuring they were properly housed and fed; he also helped many students either by organizing scholarships or through his own financial generosity.

In 1940, The and Maya and Their Neighbors was published in his honor, and the list of contributing authors shows eight out of ten had been students in his Mexican and Maya courses. In fact, two-thirds of his students had gone on to become specialists in the study of Mexico and the Maya. More than fifty years after his first expedition, Alfred Marston Tozzer passed away on October 5, 1954.

In 1974, the Peabody Museum library moved to a new building and was renamed the Tozzer Library as a tribute to the collections Alfred Marston Tozzer established (Mesoamerican), and his enormous contribution to both Harvard and the field of anthropology.

  1. Lothrop, S.K. "Alfred Marston Tozzer 1876-1954." American Anthropologist, v. 57 (New Series, no. 3, pt. 1 (June 1955):614-18.
  2. Phillips, Phillip. "Alfred Marston Tozzer 1877-1954." American Antiquity, v. 21, no. 1 (July 1955): 72-80.
  3. Tozzer, AlfredM. "Notes and News." American Anthropologist, v. 37 (New Series), no.4, pt. 1 (Oct.-Dec. 1935): 711-12.


There does not appear to be any formal arrangement; however, the negatives are ordered by Peabody negative number and are generally grouped by expedition or location. Therefore, an artificial series based on country has been created for this collection.
  1. Series I. Guatemala :25 negatives
  2. Series II. Mexico: 59 negatives
  3. ___ 1. Chiapas
  4. ___2. Yucatan
  5. Series III. Panama: 15 negatives
  6. Series IV. United States: 3negatives

Physical Location

Peabody Museum Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition


These negatives are part of the core negative collection at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University and reflect reserach and field work undertaken by the Peabody Museum sponsored expedition, Maya Ethnology and Linguistics, Yucatan and the Lacandon Indians, 1901-1905; Alfred M. Tozzer, and Exploration and Mapping of Tikal, Holmul and Nakum in Guatemala, 1909-1910; Alfred M. Tozzer and R. E. Merwin.

Related Peabody Museum Collections:

  1. Alfred M. TozzerResearch Notes, 1905-1917. acc. 41-10

    One box of researchnotes including notes on Maya graffiti, 1911-1914; notes on Palenque, 1905; pottery designtracings from Tlolotlatelco, 1914; and notes on collections at the Bancroft Library, UC, 1917.

  2. Alfred M. Tozzer's Visual Materials Collection, n. d. acc. # 989-8

    13 cartons (unprocessed)

  3. Tozzer, Alfred Marston, 1877-1954, Papers 1900-1980, acc. # 997-5 : 5 boxes.

    The Tozzer Papers are organized in two major records groups: The Alfred MarstonTozzer Papers (AMT) and the Margaret Castle Tozzer (MCT) Papers. The material reveals theclose connections between AMT's personal and professional lives and documents his extensivecontacts in the academic community and the Boston society in which he lived. Margaret's papersdocument both her husband's professional work and her family's contributions to Boston's art andanthropology communities.

Related Collections at Harvard University:
  1. Tozzer Library: Alfred M. Tozzer Field Letters, 1900-1905. ACZ7427/mss

    Transcriptions of AMT's early letters from the field.

  2. TozzerLibrary: Alfred M. Tozzer Papers, 1901-1918.

    Contains Tozzer's letters from thefiled to his family; field diaries from Mexico, 1903-1905, and three notebooks of field notes onNavajo fiestas, 1901; manuscript entitled "Wintun Myths"; and notes on the Carl Berendtcollection and Central American books and manuscripts.

  3. HarvardUniversity Archives: Papers of Alfred Marston Tozzer, 1908-1937.

    Includes somecorrespondence; student them papers from English and anthropology classes used by Tozzer forhis analysis of undergraduate superstition; and typescript volume containing biographicalinformation on Tozzer. Related publications and reference material also available in repository.

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

Processed by: Staff of 2007-2008 NEH grant; finding aid created by Melissa Gonzales Simmons College intern, 10/2007; edited by India Spartz, Senior Archivist, 2/2008.
Link to catalog
Tozzer, Alfred M. (Alfred Marston), 1877-1954. Collection of Negatives, 1901-1929: 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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