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COLLECTION Identifier: 2007.15

Augustus Ledyard Smith field notes and diaries


This collection consists of A. Ledyard Smith's personal and official field notes and diaries, most of which are related to his work at Uaxactun in Guatemala from ca. 1927 to 1937. Also included are Smith's diaries from the Motagua Valley Project (1940) and Guatemala Highlands Project (1945).


  • 1927-1958

Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions on access: None

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions on use: None


4 linear feet (4 boxes)
A. Ledyard Smith's notes are compiled in small leather-bound journals, which are organized chronologically in folders for each of the three Guatemalan sites: Uaxactun, Motagua Valley, and Guatemala Highlands. The Uaxactun papers date to ca. 1927 to 1937, the Motagua Valley papers date to 1940, and the Guatemala Highland papers date to 1945. The Peabody Museum has in its collections a number of related artifacts from Uaxactun, Motagua Valley, and Guatemala Highlands, as well as from Mayapan in Yucatan, Mexico.

Biographical Sketch:

Augustus Ledyard Smith, a Maya archaeologist, graduated from Harvard in 1925 and worked in the field programs of the Carnegie Institution's Division of Archaeology in the late 1920s and 1930s. He is perhaps best known for his work at Uaxactun, where he first worked under Oliver Ricketson, Jr. and later was field director. The Uaxactun excavations marked a turning point in Smith's career and in the archaeological research of the region. It was the first excavation in the area to combine large scale digging with ceramic analysis, and the work linked both architecture and pottery into Initial Series dating. In addition, Lowland Maya Preclassic or Formative levels were first disclosed at Uaxactun. Smith's Uaxactun monograph, published in 1950, established him as a key scholar in this area.

Following his work at Uaxactun, Smith worked on excavations in the Guatemalan Highlands under A.V. Kidder, with whom he published a monograph on the Motagua drainage in 1943. After World War II, he resumed work in the Highlands and later worked at Mayapan, in Yucatan–the last archaeological project of the Carnegie Institution. He worked there from 1950 to 1958 and, with Karl Ruppert, Smith worked on the settlement map and survey of Mayapan and published the results in Mayapan, Yucatan, Mexico in 1962.

Smith joined the Peabody Museum's staff as an assistant curator after the Carnegie Institution closed is archaeological division in 1958. His contributions to the development of the cultural heritage and history of Guatemala were recognized in 1968, when that country's government honored him with the Order of Quetzal.

  1. Willey, Gordon R. "Obituary: Augustus Ledyard Smith 1901-1985." American Antiquity53, no. 4 (October 1988): 683-685.

Physical Location

Peabody Museum Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

# 2007.15

These papers are a gift of A. Ledyard Smith, Jr. and Camilla Moss Smith; 2007

Related Peabody Museum Archival Collections

  1. #58-34, Carnegie Institute of Washington (CIW) Anthropology Division Records
  2. 58-38; 63-33 Altar de Sacrificios Expedition Records

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: Stephanie Glickman M.A. candidate, Art History, Boston University; October 2008 ; edited by Patricia H. Kervick, Associate Archivist; October 2008
Link to catalog
Smith, Augustus Ledyard (1901-1985). Field notes and diaries, ca. 1927-1958: 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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