The bulk of the photographs document Mayan reliefs and hieroglyphics at ancient sites, including Chichen Itza, Palenque, and Yaxchilan. Additional photographs depict items in the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico, including a necklace, the Stone of Tizoc, and a stone altar disk to Tlaltecuhtli. The collection includes photographs made by Alvarez y Medina, Kildare y Cia, and a photograph of a drawing by Frederic de Waldeck.
Cyrus Thomas (1825-1910) was an archeologist for the Bureau of American Ethnology best known for his work on American Indian burial mounds in the American Midwest. Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, Thomas was educated in law and served as Deputy County Clerk under his brother-in-law, the County Clerk of Jackson County, Illinois (1850-1853). In 1858, Thomas helped found the Illinois Natural History Society, through which he met John Wesley Powell. Thomas served for a brief period as an Evangelical Lutheran minister (1864-1866) before becoming an entomologist for the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (1869-1873), Illinois State Entomologist (1874-1876), and a member of the US Entomological Commission (1876-1882). In 1876, he also worked as a professor of natural history at Southern Illinois Normal College and founded the school's Museum of Natural History (now the University Museum). During this time, Thomas also became interested in Mesoamerican ethnology, publishing articles about Mesoamerican codices and writing systems. In 1881 Thomas joined the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Smithsonian and served as the Director of the Division of Mound Exploration, a position he maintained until his death in 1910.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 169
Location of Other Archival Materials:
This collection has been relocated from Photo Lot 123.
Additional Cyrus Thomas materials relating to Mesoamerica held in the National Anthropological Archives are in MS 103, MS 1328, MS 3705, MS 3956, MS 3530, MS 3941, MS 3260, MS 2337, and MS 3920-b.
Correspondence from Thomas is held in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 4821, the J. C. Pilling papers, and records of the Bureau of American Ethnology.