The Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans Papers document their research and professional activities from 1946-2012 and primarily deal with their archaeological and anthropological research in South America. Their work at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and their frequent collaboration with other researchers and professional organizations is also represented. In addition, this collection contains detailed records on South American research conducted by the Smithsonian Institution from the 1950s through the 2010s. The collection consists of research and project files, raw data and analysis, graphs and illustrations, photographs, correspondence, maps and charts, and administrative files.
Scope and Contents:
The Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans papers document their research and professional activities from 1946-2012 and primarily deal with their archaeological and anthropological research in South America. There is also significant material detailing research conducted in South America by the National Museum of Natural History (particularly the Department of Anthropology). Material documenting their publication and collaboration efforts with researchers and other colleagues is represented as well. There is also limited material related to Meggers and Evans time in graduate school at Columbia University and their brief careers before starting at the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1950s. The collection consists of research and project files, raw data and analysis, graphs and illustrations, photographs, correspondence, maps and charts, and administrative files.
This collection is arranged in 12 series: Series 1. Personal, 1893-2012, undated; Series 2. Writings, 1944-2011, undated; Series 3. Research, 1930-2011, undated; Series 4. Correspondence, 1922-2012; Series 5. Conferences and Seminars, 1949-2010, undated; Series 6. Museum and Institute Subject Files, 1973-2011, undated; Series 7. Smithsonian Institution Amazon Ecosystem Program, 1962-2008, undated. Series 8. National Program of Archeological Research in Brazil, 1961-1989, undated; Series 9. Paleoindian Research: Paleoclimatology and Paleofauna Programs, 1960-1992, undated; Series 10. Latin American Archaeology Fund, 1971-1991, undated; Series 11. Photographs, 1937-2008, undated; Series 12. Maps and Charts, 1957- circa 2009, undated.
Biographical / Historical:
Clifford Evans Chronology
1920 -- Born in Dallas, Texas.
1941 -- Bachelors degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California.
1946 -- Married Betty Meggers.
1948-1949 -- Field research: Lower Amazon archaelogical expedition to Marajo, Mexiana, Caviana, and Territory of Ampa, Brazil. With Betty Meggers.
1950 -- Ph.D., Columbia University.
1950-1951 -- Instructor, Anthropology, University of Virginia.
1951-1962 -- Associate Curator, Smithsonian Department of Anthropology.
1952-1953 -- Field research: Archaelogical and ethnographic investigations in British Guiana. With Betty Meggers.
1954 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1956 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations along the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador. With Betty Meggers.
1957 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1958 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1961 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1962-1964 -- Curator of the Division of Archaeology.
1963 -- Field research: Archeological investigations of megalithic structures on Nan Madol, Ponape, Caroline Islands. With Betty Meggers.
1964-1970, 1975-1981 -- Supervising Curator of the Department of Anthropological Research.
1965-1970 -- Co-principal investigator with Betty Meggers of PRONAPA.
1966 -- Field research: Archeological survey on Dominica. With Clifford Evans.
1968-1975 -- Co-principal investigator with Betty Meggers of the Proyecto Andino de Estudios Arqueologicos.
1970-1975 -- Chairman of the Department of Anthropology.
1971 -- Creates the Latin American Archaeology Fund with Betty Meggers.
1972 -- Creates the Paleo-Indian, Paleoecology, and Paleoenvironmental Research Program.
1974 -- Creates the Amazon Ecosystems Research Program.
1975-1980 -- Co-principal investigator with Betty Meggers of PRONAPABA.
1976 -- Field research: Paleoindian and Archaic sites and museum collections in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. With Betty Meggers and Dennis Stanford.
1981 -- Dies in Washington, D.C.
Betty Meggers Chronology
1921 -- Born December 5 in Washington, D.C.
1943 -- A.B. in anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
1944 -- M.A., University of Michigan
1948-1949 -- Field research: Lower Amazon archaelogical expedition to Marajo, Mexiana, Caviana, and Territory of Ampa, Brazil. With Clifford Evans.
1950-1951 -- Instructor, Anthropology, American University
1952 -- Ph.D., Columbia University
1952-1953 -- Field research: Archaelogical and ethnographic investigations in British Guiana. With Clifford Evans.
1954 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1954-2012 -- Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, national Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
1956 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations along the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador. With Clifford Evans.
1957 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1958 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1961 -- Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1963 -- Field research: Archeological investigations of megalithic structures on Nan Madol, Ponape, Caroline Islands. With Clifford Evans.
1965-1970 -- Co-principal investigator with Clifford Evans of PRONAPA.
1966 -- Field research: Archeological survey on Dominica. With Clifford Evans.
1968-1975 -- Co-principal investigator with Clifford Evans of the Proyecto Andino de Estudios Arqueologicos.
1975-1980 -- Co-principal investigator with Clifford Evans of PRONAPABA.
1976 -- Field research: Paleoindian and Archaic sites and museum collections in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. With Clifford Evans and Dennis Stanford.
1976-1996 -- Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society
1982-1985 -- Consultant, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem, Brazil
2012 -- Dies in Washington, D.C.
Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans were anthropologists specializing in the archeology of lowland South America. Their combined careers at the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology totaled over 100 years. Evans was born in 1920 in Texas. He received his bachelor's degree in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Southern California in 1941. Following his service as a bombardier during World War II, he enrolled in the anthropology doctoral program at Columbia University where he met Meggers, a fellow student in the department. Meggers was born in 1921 in Washington, D.C., and was the daughter of well-known archaeologist William Frederick Meggers. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelors degree in anthropology in 1943 and from the University of Michigan with a masters in anthropology in 1944 before being admitted to Columbia.
Meggers and Evans did their dissertation research together in South America— Meggers worked on the island of Marajo at the mouth of the Amazon River while Evans did archaeological research in the Amapa territory of Brazil. The two were married on September 13, 1946.
After Evans received his Ph.D. in 1950, he was hired by the Smithsonian Institution as an associate curator in the Department of Anthropology in 1951. After graduating in 1952, Meggers worked as an anthropology instructor at American University for one year before being hired as a research associate in the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology in 1954.
Evans was named Curator of the Division of Archaeology in 1962, and Supervising Curator of the newly created Office of Anthropological Research in 1964. Under his leadership, standardized operating procedures were created that centralized accessioning, cataloging, storing, and lending of objects. This freed curators from many complicated and routine activities. In 1970, Evans was appointed the Chairman of Anthropology for a five year term, where he initiated many large-scale research programs with Meggers that continued to operate many years after his chairmanship ended.
The first program that Evans and Meggers created was the "Paleo-Indian, Paleoecology, and Paleoenvironmental Research Program" in 1972, which was designed to study prehistoric peoples in the Western Hemisphere. The second program, implemented in 1974 was the "Amazon Ecosystems Research Program," which organized Brazilian scientists and Smithsonian staff members interested in environmental studies of the Amazon region.
Meggers and Evans conducted much of their field work together, which resulted in hundreds of articles, essays, presentations, and books. The majority of their work was done in the Amazon and Andean regions of South America, particularly Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Aside from these publications, they were also able to collect many archaeological specimens that are still part of the Smithsonian's holdings.
The conclusions that Meggers and Evans drew from their research and field work, while ground-breaking, were often controversial. In the early 1960s local businessman and amateur archaeologist Emilio Estrada excavated pottery from the Valdivia area in Ecuador and shared his results with Meggers and Evans. After finding significant similarities between Valdivian artifacts and those from Japan's ancient Jomon culture, they theorized that there was transpacific contact between Japan and South America around the beginning of the third millennium B.C. Their theory remains controversial.
Meggers and Evans also argued that despite the rich forests of the Amazon region, the river basin's thin, poor soil could not hold enough nutrients to sustain intensive agriculture. As a result, they argued, large and complex societies could not have existed in the Amazon River basin as other archaeologists and anthropologists have suggested.
After finishing his tenure as chairman of the Department of Anthropology, Clifford Evans died in 1981 of a heart attack at the age of 60. Following his death, Meggers continued in her position as research associate in the Department of Anthropology for another 30 years. Though she did not conduct additional fieldwork after her husband's death, Meggers wrote prolifically and was heavily involved in analyzing field work data and collaborating with colleagues working throughout South America. She made it possible for many researchers to study and conduct research at the National Museum of Natural History, and presented in many conferences and seminars locally and internationally. In addition, Meggers advocated on the behalf of colleagues to the National Geographic Society and other organizations to procure funding for archaeological and anthropological expeditions all over the world. Betty Meggers died in 2012 at the age of 90.
There are about 25 slide cases, each containing about 200 to 300 kodachrome slides, that are currently stored at the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. These were created in the late 1940s and early 1950s and contain images of field work and other trips to South American locations such as Peru, British Guiana, the Peru Highlands, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Hondouras, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Mexico. Contact repository for more information.
2 rolls of 16mm film, 22 audio cassettes, and 1 VHS of South and Central American research were transferred to the Human Studies Film Archives in 2015.
The papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by the estate of Betty J. Meggers in 2013.
The Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans papers are open for research. Personal correspondence, however, is RESTRICTED until 2026.
The processed material in this collection concerns work before 1955. Included are field notebooks, printed material, drafts of manuscripts, notes, catographic material, drawings, photograhs, writings, historical documents, and copies of United States government documents. Incorporated are notes (often comments and suggestion regarding Drucker's work) by Alfred Louis Kroeber, photographs of Nootka by R. Maynard, copies of papers by William Beynon and Viola Garfield, a catalog of an Alaskan Collection of Edward G. Fast, a field notebook relating to the British Columbia coast archeology survey by Richard King Beardsley, notes on Alsea by John Albert, and miscellaneous papers of various authors concerning Micronesia. The latter includes material by Harry K. Uyeharan on Angaur clan organization, J.E. Tobin on the Bikini, and George E. Thompson on education in American Samoa.
Scope and Contents:
These papers reflect the professional life of Dr. Philip Drucker (1911-1982), Assistant Curator for the U. S. National Museum, Ethnologist and Anthropologist for the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE), Staff Anthropologist in the U. S. Navy, farmer, and professor at the Universities of Kentucky, Colorado, and Baylor. Included are notes and fieldnotes from his expeditions into the American Northwest, MesoAmerica, and Oceania, correspondence sent and received by Drucker, drafts and notes of some of his works, element lists, newspapers and newsletters he collected, papers and materials from others in the field, class notes and exams from his years of teaching, photographs, and maps.
Of primary concern are the materials dealing with the Northwest Coast, which contain his most detailed notes. Dr. Drucker was considered to be one of the foremost experts in that region. There is also considerable photographic material on MesoAmerica, the majority of which remains unprocessed. Also included are materials dealing with Southern California, South America, and Oceania.
Correspondents include Margaret Blackman, Joanna Chisholm, William Beynon, John Fox, E. Gartly Jaco, Elizabeth Tooker, Margaret Lantis, Joseph P. Benson, Kenneth Ames, Vera Rubin, Charles M. Tolbert, Robert E. Quirk, James R. Glenn, and Ward H. Goodenough.
The Drucker Papers also include notes, exams, and assignments from his classes as well as a number of papers dealing with topics not directly related to the main series. There are many photographs of the Northwest Coast and MesoAmerica, and a few maps from each of the main regions in which Drucker worked.
(1) Northwest Coast native brotherhoods; (2) Northwest Coast Nootkan tribes; (3) Northwest Coast miscellaneous ethnology (on the Bellabella, Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Bellacoola, Wikeno, Haida, Haisla, Xaihais, and Heiltsuk); (4) Northwwest Coast archeology; (5) Northwest Coast cultural element distribution; (6) Oregon Coast and Northern California (including material on the Coos, Alsea, Clckamas, Tolowa, Karuk, Chinook, Karok, and Yurok; (7) southern California (including material on the Diegueno, Akwa'ala, Yaqui, Papago, Luiseno); (8) southwest Yuman-Piman tribes; (9) miscellaneous North American ethnology; (10) Mesoamerican archeology; (11) Micronesia (including material on Kili, Likiep, Jaliut, Ebon, Angaur, and other islands); (12) unprocessed material
Chronology of the Life of Philip Drucker
January 13, 1911 -- Born in Chicago, Illinois
1927 -- Began degree program in Animal Husbandry at Colorado Agricultural College
1929 -- Changed to Liberal Arts program at Colorado College
Summer 1930 -- Field School in Archaeology with the University of New Mexico
1930 -- Began Anthropology Degree at the University of California, Berkeley
1932 -- A. B. Degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley
1933 -- Teaching Fellowship, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
1934-1935 -- Social Science Research (SSRC) pre-doctoral fellowship "Study of Nootkan Indians"
1936 -- Ethnographic Survey of Northwest Coast for the University of California Program in "Cultural Element Distribution" Ph. D. In Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
1938-1939 -- National Research Council (NRC) post-doctoral fellowship(Archaeological Survey of the Northwest Coast)
1940 -- Assistant Curator, United States National Museum (transferred to Bureau of American Ethnology)
1941-1942 -- Olmec Field Trips
1942 -- Commissioned Lt. (Jg) (Line) USNR; active duty
December 1945 -- Released from active duty Ethnologist, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution
October 1948 -- Ordered to active duty, LCdr, USNR. Staff Anthropologist, Staff of Deputy High Commissioner, Trust Territory Of the Pacific Islands (Micronesia)
January 1952 -- Released from active duty Anthropologist for BAE
December 1955 -- Resigned BAE
1955-1966 -- Married Rosario and had two children, Felipe and Rosario Self-employed, farming operation, Vera Cruz, Mexico
October 1966 -- Sold farm and moved to San Andes Tuxtla, Vera Cruz
Spring 1967 -- Visiting professor of Anthropology, University of Kentucky
Summer 1968 -- Visiting professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado
1968-1969 -- Visiting professor of Anthropology, University of Kentucky
1969-1978 -- Professor of Anthropology, University of Kentucky
June 1978 -- Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky
1978-1979 -- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Baylor University
1979—? -- Senior Scientist (Ethnography), Kentucky Longevity Study Project, University of Kentucky
These materials were left by Drucker in his office at the Bureau of American Ethnology when he resigned in December, 1955, and were deposited in the Bureau of American Ethnology Archives ca. 1956 By M. W. Stirling, Chief, Bureau of American Ethnology.
Manuscript 4516 is open for research.
Access to Manuscript 4516 requires an appointment.