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COLLECTION Identifier: 995-3

George Grant MacCurdy papers


George Grant MacCurdy (GGM) was an American anthropologist. He and Janet MacCurdy founded the American School of Prehistoric Research (ASPR) in 1921, which published Bulletins from 1926 onward, and became the Department of Old World Archaeology at the Peabody Museum as per his bequest in 1954. The records include correspondence; original artwork; postcards; sketch books; travel notebooks; biographical materials; maps; articles and clippings; administrative records; letters; physical anthropology - illustrations, notes and writings; research mss.; and professional organization records.


  • Creation: circa 1886-1983


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.


7 linear feet (16 boxes)


  1. Correspondence [Boxes 1, 3-5A]
  2. Original artwork for publication and postcards [Box 2]
  3. Group of postcards from Europe, associated with sites and research
  4. Sketch books and travel notebooks [Box 5B]
  5. Biographical materials and writings [Box 6]
  6. Maps [Box 7]
  7. Articles and clippings [Box 7]
  8. ASPR administrative records and general letters to GGM [Box 8]
  9. Physical anthropology - illustrations, notes and writings [Box 9]
  10. Research mss. & professional organizations records [Box 10]

Biographical / Historical

George Grant MacCurdy (1863-1947) was an American anthropologist born in Warrensburg, Missouri to farmers William J. and Margaret Smith MacCurdy. MacCurdy graduated from the Second District Normal School in 1887, teaching by the age of eighteen and becoming Superintendent of Schools two years after graduation. After visiting Boston and Cambridge as a YMCA delegate to a conference at Mt. Hermon, Massachusetts, MacCurdy decided to attend Harvard University. In 1891, he attended on scholarship, receiving his A.B. in 1893 and his M.A. in 1894. That summer, MacCurdy attended Alexander Agassiz’s biological laboratory in Newport.

During his later years at Harvard, MacCurdy became acquainted with his relatives, Professor and Mrs. Edward E. Salisbury, of Yale. The couple financed MacCurdy’s visit to Vienna in 1895-1896, where he attended the International Zoological Congress in Leyden in which Eugene DuBois exhibited "Pithecanthropus erectus" (redesignated Homo erectus). MacCurdy decided to study paleoanthropology henceforth, studying in Paris (1896-1897) and Berlin (1897-1898). He became an instructor at Yale University in 1898 and the Curator of Archaeology and Anthropology in the Yale Peabody Museum’s Division of Anthropology from 1902-1931. In 1931, he became Emeritus Research Associate with professorial rank and Emeritus Curator of the Anthropological Collections, obtaining his doctorate of philosophy in 1905 from the university.

MacCurdy married Glenn Bartlett in 1919. MacCurdy was an active member of the American Anthropological Association, Archaeological Institute of America, American Philosophical Society, National Research Council, International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, and countless other foreign and American scientific societies, while additionally publishing numerous anthropological works throughout his lifetime.

George Grant and Janet MacCurdy founded the American School of Prehistoric Research in 1921. ASPR programs were conducted largely in Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East, where it supported visits to prehistoric sites, excavated others through its field school program, and sponsored lectures by global experts. Many artifact collections excavated by the ASPR are retained by the Museum. In 1954, seven years after the death of Dr. MacCurdy (1947), the ASPR became the Department of Old World Archaeology at the Peabody Museum as per his bequest. The ASPR publication series Bulletins of the American School for Prehistoric Research (1926-) was and is continued by the museum. The ASPR Monographs in Archaeology and Paleoanthropology are a series of documents covering a variety of subjects in the archaeology of the Old World (Eurasia, Africa, Australia, and Oceania).


“George Grant MacCurdy.” Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Electronically Published December 01, 2010. Accessed July 12, 2017.

McCOWN, THEODORE D. "GEORGE GRANT MacCURDY, 1863–1947." American Anthropologist, vol. 50 issue 3 (1948): 516-524. Electronically Published October 28, 2009. Accessed July 12, 2017.

Preliminary ASPR finding aid, Victoria H. Swerdlow, June 12, 1987.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Records of the American School of Prehistoric Research and George Grant MacCurdy were given as a bequest to the Peabody Museum of Harvard University by the estate of Janet MacCurdy in 1990.

Related Materials

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

American School of Prehistoric Research 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

Draft finding aid by Amy Wolff Cay; revised description and entry into ArchivesSpace by Marissa Stape.

MacCurdy, George Grant papers, 1886-1983 (inclusive)
Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology Archives, Harvard University
Description rules
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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