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COLLECTION Identifier: 976-63

Adela Breton correspondence


This collection consists of correspondence written by Adela C. Breton, British subject, to Ella Lewis of Philadelphia during the first World War as she traveled about America, Canada, Britain, and finally the West Indies and South America.


  • 1915-1923 (bulk)

Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions on access: none.

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions on use: none.


.5 linear feet

This collection contains 100 letters written by Adela Breton to her American friend, Ella Lewis of Philadelphia during the first World War as well as six additional letters from Adela Breton's brother, Harry Breton, informing Ella Lewis of Adela's death in Barbados. Adela's letters discuss the weather, health, families, World War I, different customs of the Americans and the British. Dating from 1915 to 1923, they describe her various accommodations during her travels, the libraries and museums she visits, and other travelers. Approximately 80 letters are written from the United States and Canada, where she was forced to remain due to the war and ill health. About 10 letters, written from England, describe her activities and the changes she sees after the war. The last four letters were written when traveling to South America for a scientific association meeting. At this time she became ill and was forced to remain in Rio de Janeiro to recover. She continued with her original plans, however, and upon reaching Barbados, she again fell ill and died. The remaining 6 letters were written by her brother Harry, informing Ms. Lewis of Adela's death, discussing her personality, and forwarding a family Bible.

Biographical Sketch

Adela Breton, an English watercolor artist, is best known for her watercolor drawings of archaeological sites in Central America. From an early age, Adela's parents supported their daughter's education and artistic studies. Her father became fascinated by anthropology and geology and these fields soon captured Adela's interest as well. After her father's death in 1887, Adela launched a lifetime of travel to explore past cultures. Her most valuable contribution to archaeology was the recording of murals in Yucatan, which she captured in paint before the air could alter their original colors. Through her diligent and skillful work, she became respected internationally as an archaeological copyist, researcher, and interpreter of the rapidly disappearing painted walls of ancient Mexico.


  1. Series I: Letters fromAdela Breton to Ella Lewis.
  2. Series II: Letters from Harry Breton to Ella Lewis.

Physical Location

Peabody Museum Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers are a gift of Clifford Lewis, grandson of Ella Lewis. 1976

Related Peabody Museum Collections:

  1. #45-5 Breton, Adelawatercolors
  2. #41-7 Bowditch, Charles P. Papers, Box4, Folder 43a
  3. #93-27 Central American ExpeditionRecords
  4. #47-52 Chichen Itza Expedition Records
  5. #41-10 and unacc. Tozzer, Alfred M. Papers, Box 1,Folder 4

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.

Processed by:

Patricia H. Kervick Associate Archivist; January 2010

Breton, Adela, (1849-1923), Correspondence, 1915-1923, bulk: A Finding Aid
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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