George Hubbard Pepper specialized in the study of cultures of the American Southwest and Ecuador. Tribes which he studied are Acoma, Aztec, Blackfeet, Cochiti, Hopi, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Navajo, Picuris, Pojuaque, Puye, San Carlos Apache, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Sandia, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Taos, Tarascan, Tesuque, Ute, Zia, and Zuni. Photographs in the collection are of an excavation in Tottenville, New York, 1895; Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Cañon, New Mexico: Hyde Expedition, 1896-1900; and expeditions to the occupied Pueblos of the Southwest, 1904; Mexico, 1904, 1906; Guatemala; and Ecuador, 1907. There are also photos which complement a study Pepper did of the technique of Navajo weaving, and miscellaneous scenic and personal photos.
Collection arranged by item number.
George Hubbard Pepper was born on February 2, 1873 in Tottenville, Staten Island, New York. As a young boy he exhibited a strong interest in archaeology and after his graduating from high school followed encouragement from Prof. Fredric W. Putnam to study at the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, where Pepper stayed from 1895-96. In 1896 he was appointed assistant curator of the Department of the Southwest in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. From 1896 to 1900, Pepper was a member of the Hyde Exploring Expedition, which conducted excavations at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. In 1904, he conducted an ethnological survey of the occupied pueblos of the Southwest and at the same time continued his study of the weaving techniques of the Navajo. Pepper also participated in excavations in the yacatas of the Tierra Caliente of Michoacan in Mexico sponsored by George Gustav Heye, and in 1907 he went with Marshall Saville on an expedition to the Province of Manabi in Ecuador, also for Heye. In 1909 Pepper was appointed assistant curator in the Department of American Archaeology at the University Museum of Philadelphia, but after only a year there he joined the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation in New York City, where he stayed until his death. In 1914 he excavated a Munsee cemetery of the historic period near Montague, New Jersey and in the following year he went on the exploration of the Nacoochee mound in the old Cherokee region in Georgia. In 1918 he joined the Hawikku explorations of the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition in New Mexico. Pepper died on May 13, 1924, in New York City. George H. Pepper was a co-founder of the American Anthropological Association, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Ethnological Society of New York, a member of the American Folklore Society, and a corresponding member of the Academia Nacional de Historia of Ecuador. A complete bibliography of his works can be found in Indian Notes, v. 1, no. 3, July 1924, pp. 108-110. The George Hubbard Pepper Papers are in the Latin American Library, Tulane University Library, New Orleans, Louisiana.
According to Frederick Dockstader, director of MAI from 1960 to 1975, in a letter dated March 26, 1968, the collection was given to MAI by Pepper. However, the 1965 Annual Report (p. 26) states that the Photographic Department acquired through the donation of Mrs. Jeannette Cameron approximately 500 new negatives pertaining to field work done by her father from 1900-1910; and the 1966 Annual Report (p. 9) states that many papers of Dr. George H. Pepper were acquired through the courtesy of his daughter, Mrs. Jeanette Cameron.
Access restricted. Researchers should contact the staff of the NMAI Archives for an appointment to access the collection.
64 aerial photographs of Rio Grande Pueblos made circa 1967 from 60,000 feet by a U2 aircraft.
Scope and Contents:
Aerial photographs of Rio Grande Pueblos made circa 1967 from 60,000 feet by a U2 aircraft, commissioned by Ezra Zubrow. Pueblos photographed include Acoma, Cochiti, Ildefonso, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni.
The photographs are arranged alphabetically by Pueblo.
Ezra Zubrow provides the following background:
"Here is a quick version of the story of the photographs. . . I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona and during the summer of 1967 or 1968. I was working at the Southwestern Archaeological Expedition run by Paul S. Martin of the Field Museum of Chicago at the Hay Hollow Valley. I was a field foreman.
One day a group of B52's came over the nearby mesas very very low. This was the time of Vietnam. The sound was deafening and it seemed as if the earth shook and that they were only a few hundred feet above us. I remember looking up and I would swear that the bomb doors were open and that I saw a light inside. It was clear that they were doing some kind of low level practice and I thought it was a practice bombing run. When my ears stopped ringing, I thought to myself those planes must have cameras to record the dropping of the bombs and if they happen to come by again maybe I could ask them to take pictures of our excavations. So I wrote a letter to the "commanding general of the air force". I did not have a name or an address so I just sent it to the Commanding General US Air Force, Pentagon, Washington DC. I explained how useful photographs from the air were for doing archaeology in my letter and drove some 20 miles to Showlow Arizona to send the letter. When I did not hear anything I promptly forgot about it realizing that it was a "silly thing to have done." Two and half months went by and just before I left Vernon I received a package from the US Air Force from a colonel who was with a "reconnaissance" wing. In it was a letter saying that my letter had been received at the pentagon and had wended its way through various offices with a request that if it was possible to help us please do and here were a set of pictures of your excavations and the nearby area. To say the least I was thunderstruck. I had no idea how they had done the photographs but there were a set of 9x18 negatives and prints.
When I returned to Tucson for the fall semester a few days later, I started to look at the photographs. I realized that I wanted to say thank you and sent a letter saying thank you to the air force. It then occurred to me that it would be a nice thing to do to call and say thank you in person. I called the Pentagon and after several calls they provided me a number to call. It had the same area code as Tucson and I realized that the colonel was probably stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. So I called the base and asked if I could make an appointment to meet him and personally say thank you. I got an appointment the following week and went out to the base. At the guard house I told them I had an appointment with the colonel and they told me to wait at the gate house which I did. After about 15 minutes a soldier came out with a car and asked me to leave my car at the gatehouse and he would drive me into the base. The car actually had blacked out side and rear windows.
We went into a low lying building and there were several people there including Colonel Y and a Lieutenant X. I told them how appreciative I was and that all the other archaeologists at the Southwestern Archaeological Expedition appreciated their help as well.
I had no idea with whom I was dealing. They showed me around various rooms and laboratories for photography and finally came to a room with a large chalkboard in it. On the chalkboard was a listing of missions, plane numbers, and pilots. There were a range of missions scheduled for several weeks and when I realized that several of them were over Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and Russia I stopped in my tracks. I looked at my hosts and said what kind of planes were they flying. I still thought it was something like a B52. They said it was the U2. I was speechless and as I later learned my mouth dropped so wide that all the men in the room started laughing. They said that if I wanted to watch one land it was going to land in a few minutes and as I was leaving I could watch. Of course I wanted to.
So as I left, I said thank you again and the Colonel and the Lieutenant said if they could help more, they would be willing to do so.
It turned out that Lieutenant X and I were about the same age and that we each had just been married a short time. We both were in a "foreign town," Tucson. So the two couples began t to meet for dinner and joined some other young couples who were in Tucson for the first time. The following semester, I had the idea of photographing the Pueblos. I asked Lieutenant X and Colonel Y if it might be possible and they said yes. I went back to the base and we sat with maps and plotted out the exact flight plan.
And that's more or less how it happened. The Colonel, the Lieutenant, and I continued to be friends for many years."
 Email from Ezra Zubrow to archivist Gina Rappaport, April 22, 2010.
Ezra Zubrow is an anthropologist who has served on the faculty of the University at Buffalo since 1977. His broad interests include archaeological and anthropological theory and method, social policy of heritage and disability, Nordic archaeology, and ecology.
The collection was donated by Ezra Zubrow in 2010.