The Samuel K. Lothrop photograph collection primarily contains negatives, photographic prints, and lantern slides made by Lothrop while employed by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation from 1924-1930. Lothrop was an archaeologist and photographer who extensively traveled and worked throughout Central America and South America and led expeditions on behalf of the MAI to Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru. There are also photographs from prior to Lothrop's time at MAI that were made in other locations in Central America, Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Arizona, and Wisconsin between 1915 and 1918.
Scope and Contents:
The Samuel K. Lothrop collection primarily contains negatives, photographic prints, and lantern slides made by Lothrop while employed by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation from 1924-1930. There are also photographs from prior to Lothrop's time at MAI that were made in other locations in Central America, Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Arizona, and Wisconsin between 1915 and 1918.
Series 1: Non-MAI Expeditions to Wisconsin and the Southwest, United States, 1915, includes photographic negatives from S.K. Lothrop's first field experience in archaeology the summer of 1915 under the direction of A.V. Kidder through the R.S. Peabody Foundation of Andover. This includes photographs in the Southwest at the San Cristobal Pueblo ruins, A:shiwi (Zuni) Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, K'apovi (Santa Clara Pueblo) in New Mexico and at various locations at Hopi Pueblo, Arizona. There are also photographs of Bird Effigy Mound and Panther Effigy in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, also made in 1915.
Series 2: Non-MAI Expeditions to Central America and Puerto Rico, circa 1915-1918, includes photographic negatives and lantern slides from Lothrop's time as Director of the Harvard Peabody Museum's Central American,1916-1917. Some of the photographs in this series are listed as 1918, though during that time Lothrop was working for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence. It's also possible that the photographs from Puerto Rico, which are cataloged as 1918 were taken during a 1915 trip to the island. The photographs in this series include views from Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico.
Series 3: MAI Central American Expedition to El Salvador, 1924, includes photographs from the "S.K. Lothrop Central American Expedition" between January and May 1924. The majority of the photographs were made in El Salvador, though a small amount were taken in Guatemala. The photographs in EL Salvador include photographs of volcanos, archaeological sites, antiquities, landscape views, villages, and native peoples, such as the Lenca, engaged in pottery and rope making, food preparation, house building, and ceremonial activities.
Series 4: MAI Tierra del Fuego Expedition, 1924-1925, includes photographs from the "MAI Tierra del Fuego Expedition" between October 1924 and March, 1925. Lothrop, accompanied by J. Linzee Weld, spent three months on the Islands of Tierra del Fuego (Chile, Argentina) visiting Selk'nam (Ona) and Yámana (Yagán/Yahgan) settlements. The three Selk'nam (Ona) settlements included one at the Southeast corner of Lake Fagnano, one at the Northeast of Lake Fagnano and the third east of the Laguna de Pescados. Yámana (Yagán/Yahgan) settlements were encountered at Tierra Mayor, Cambaceres Bay, Gable island and Puerto Mejillones on Navarin Island. The photographs include depictions of the daily live and ceremonial activities of the Native peoples, as well as landscape views. Also included in this series are photographic negatives made in Peru sometime in 1925 during Lothrop's trip in South America. These include images in Incahuasi and La Centinela, among other locations.
Series 5: MAI La Plata Expedition (Paraná River Delta Argentina Expedition), 1925, includes photographic negatives from the "Mrs. Thea Heye, La Plata Expedition" also known as the "Thea Heye - Lothrop Paraná River Delta Argentina Expedition" between March and June 1925. The expedition was conducted jointly between the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation and the Museo de la Plata in Argentina (Argentine Republic). Excavations were made in the Río Paraná Delta in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Many of the photographs show views of the river as well as views of the excavation site including mounds and trenches. There are a number of restricted photographs in this series due to cultural sensitivity.
Series 6: MAI Guatemala Expedition, 1928, includes photographic negatives from the "Mrs. Thea Heye Guatemala Expedition" between February and May 1928. Many of the photographs include depictions of Mayan ruins in different Guatemalan provinces. There are also photographs of Tz'utuhil Maya (Tzutuhil/Zutigil), K'iche' (Quiché) Maya, and Kaqchikel Maya (Cakchiquel) people engaged in weaving, rope making, canoeing, and ceremonial activities. There are a number of restricted photographs in this series due to cultural sensitivity.
This collection has been arranged in six Series chronologically by expedition.
Series 1: Non-MAI Expeditions to Wisconsin and the Southwest, United States, 1915
Series 2: Non-MAI Expeditions to Central America and Puerto Rico, circa 1915-1918
Series 3: MAI Central American Expedition to El Salvador, 1924
Series 4: MAI Tierra del Fuego Expedition, 1924-1925
Series 5: MAI La Plata Expedition (Paraná River Delta Argentina Expedition), 1925
Samuel Kirkland Lothrop was born in Milton, Massachusetts on July 6, 1892, to William Sturgis Hooper Lothrop and Alice Putnam Lothrop. Lothrop spent his childhood in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico and entered Harvard college in 1911. He graduated in 1915 with a concentration in archaeology and anthropology having studied under Alfred Marston Tozzer. Lothrop had his first field experience in archaeology the summer of 1915 under the direction of A.V. Kidder through the R.S. Peabody Foundation of Andover, spending time in the Southwest as well as studying mounds in Wisconsin. Lothrop also traveled extensively in Central American and in Puerto Rico as an associate of the Peabody Museum of Harvard, visiting sites and making small excavations. During World War I, Lothrop's career was interrupted when he served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence between 1917-1918. Following the war, Lothrop returned to graduate work at Harvard and his thesis, submitted in 1921, was focused on the ceramics of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Lothrop was then employed by the Carnegie Institution's Historical Division to make field investigations in Yucatan and Guatemala in 1923. His 1924 publication on the Yucatan ruin of Tulum was the first major monograph published on the subject. Starting in 1923, with the Hendricks-Hodge Hawikku (Hawikuh) expedition, Lothrop joined the research staff of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI) in New York City. Though George Gustav Heye originally hired Lothrop to research Native Guatemalan and El Salvadoran textiles and pottery, Lothrop also led several expeditions in South America in such places as Tierra del Fuego. During this period, Lothrop became a good friend of Argentine archaeologists at the time such as Fernando Marquez Miranda and published several monographs on his research. Following the dissolution of the MAI's research staff in 1930, Lothrop returned to Harvard's Peabody Museum as a research associate and curator of Andean archaeology until his retirement. Lothrop continued in an active emeritus status until his death in 1965.
Source: Willey, Gordon R. "Samuel Kirkland Lothrop," Biographical Memoirs: Volume 48, pp 253-272. National Academies Press, 1976.
Samuel K. Lothrop papers (996-20), Peabody Museum Archives. https://hollisarchives.lib.harvard.edu/repositories/6/resources/4764
Lothrop, S.K. Chile field notes and diary about the Indian of Chile, 1929-1930, #9055. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Photographs that were made by S.K. Lothrop during the Hendricks-Hodge Hawikku (Hawikuh) expedition are included in the Hendricks-Hodge Hawikku Expedition photograph collection, NMAI.AC.001.042.
Catalogs and expense records for Lothrop's expeditions can be found in the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records, NMAI.AC.001, in Series 5: Expeditions.
The photographs produced during Museum of the American Indian expeditions were sent to the MAI by Samuel K. Lothrop, alongside field collections, between 1924 and 1930. The photographs that were made by Lothrop prior to his employment at MAI were donated by Lothrop in 1930.
Access to NMAI Archives Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are photographs in this collection that are restricted due to cultural sensitivity.
Indians of Central America -- Guatemala -- Photographs Search this
Indians of Central America -- El Salvador -- Photographs Search this
Fuegians -- Social life and customs -- Photographs Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Argentina -- Photographs Search this
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Samuel K. Lothrop photograph collection, NMAI.AC.001.010. National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution.