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COLLECTION Identifier: 41-10

Alfred Marston Tozzer professional papers and research notes


The Tozzer Papers pertain to Alfred Tozzer's professional life and include correspondence, writings, notes and periodical clippings used for Tozzer's research, Tozzer's Harvard University anthropology examination papers, and bound notebooks of Tozzer's handwritten notes.


  • 1900-1954 (bulk)

Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions on access: None

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions on use: None


3 linear feet

The Tozzer Papers pertain to Alfred Tozzer's professional life and consist largely of correspondence between Tozzer and his colleagues at universities and anthropological and archaeological museums in the United States and Mexico. Correspondence regards specimen acquisitions, research questions, publications, students, academics, field work, and personal matters. There is some correspondence between colleagues of Tozzer regarding Tozzer's professional interactions. A correspondence with Professor Franz Boas in 1939 references World War II and the attempt to assist refugee students in Europe. Also in the collection are Tozzer's notes and newspaper clippings used for research projects, including a history of Chichen Itza and a paper entitled Biography and Biology. Included are drafts of Biography and Biology. Menus for a dinner honoring Dr. Tozzer can be found in the collection along with a poem written for the event by a colleague of Tozzer's. Materials on Tozzer's academic and work history are included in the collection, including a bibliography of his writings and a list of organizations to which he belonged. There are copies of examination questions for Tozzer's anthropology classes taught at Harvard University, both in loose page format and bound in an examination book. There are several note cards with tracings of pottery designs from the Tlatelolco region of Mexico City, made in 1914. The collection houses several of Tozzer's notebooks from 1901 to 1905 containing lists of Mayan vocabulary and texts. There is also a small amount of photographs of archaeological dig sites.

Biographical Sketch

Alfred Marston Tozzer was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1877. Tozzer graduated from Harvard College in 1900, after which he participated in anthropological field work in Arizona, California, and New Mexico, earning his A.M. from Harvard in 1901. In 1902, Tozzer went to Central America as a Traveling Fellow of the Archaeological Institute of America. Witnessing the dredging of the Cenote of Sacrifice in Chichen Itza led by Edward Thompson kindled his interests in archaeology and anthropology of the Maya, which later became his specialty. Tozzer spent the next three winters in Lacandone, Chiapas and Campeche, and the studies there formed the basis of his Ph.D. dissertation. Tozzer received his Ph. D. from Harvard University in 1904 and the following year he began teaching at Harvard. Tozzer was appointed Associate Professor in 1920 and the next year he became Professor and remained so until his retirement in 1947. Tozzer also worked as a Curator of Middle American Archaeology and Ethnology in the Peabody Museum, leading several expeditions to Central America in the 1910's. In 1948, he was appointed Professor Emeritus.

In addition to Tozzer's contribution as an educator, he held many executive positions throughout his career, such as the Director of the International School of American Archaeology in Mexico, Department Chair of Anthropology, Director of the Harvard Alumni Association, President of the American Anthropological Association, Faculty Member and Librarian of the Peabody Museum, to name a few. He also served on the Academic Board at Radcliffe, the National Research Council, and the Social Science Research Council.

Tozzer also fulfilled his military duties for the both World Wars. During World War I, he served as a Captain of Air Services, and during World War II, as a director of the Honolulu branch of the Office of the Strategic Services. While serving in World War II, he produced works not only of military value, but also of anthropological value, most representatively his study of Okinawa.

Tozzer authored many publications, including his first scholarly publication, A comparative study of the Mayas and the Lacandones (1907), A grammar of the Maya language (1921), and Landa's Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan (1941). His monumental monograph, Chichen Itza and its Cenote of Sacrifice (1957) was published posthumously.

Tozzer married Margaret Tenney Castle (1886-1978) of Honolulu in 1913. Margaret Castle was born in 1886, the daughter of George P. Cook, founder of Castle and Cook Co. in Hawaii, a food holding company. The couple left a daughter, now Joan Tozzer Cave of Chestnut Hill, Mass., who has six children.


  1. Philips, Phillip. 1955. " Alfred Marston Tozzer,1877-1954." American Antiquity, 21(1) (July): 72-80.
  2. Lothrop,S.K.1955. "Alfred Marston Tozzer,1876-1954." American Anthropologist, 57(3)(June): 614-8.

Physical Location

Peabody Museum Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition


These papers were donated by Alfred M. Tozzer, January 15, 1941

Related Peabody Museum Collections:

  1. #997-5, Alfred Marston Tozzer Papers, 1900-1980, 5 boxes.
  2. #989-8,Alfred M. Tozzer Visual Materials, 13 boxes.
  3. #2004.24, Alfred M. TozzerCollection of Negatives, 1901-1929

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:

Katrina L. Morse, Simmons College intern; April 2010; edited by Patricia H. Kervick, Associate Archivist; April 2010

Tozzer, Alfred Marston (1877-1954), Professional Papers and Research Notes, bulk, 1900-1954: 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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