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Augustus and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon papers, 1763-1937, bulk 1860-1910.

Le Plongeon, Augustus, 1826-1908.

Available at Special Collections  SPECIAL COLLECTIONS - CONTACT REFERENCE  (2004.M.18 ) and other locations()

  • Title:
    Augustus and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon papers, 1763-1937, bulk 1860-1910.
  • Author/Creator: Le Plongeon, Augustus, 1826-1908.
  • Creation Date: 1763-1937, bulk 1860-1910.
  • Biographical/Historical Note: Augustus Le Plongeon was a medical doctor, photographer, antiquarian, and amature archaeologist of French origins. In the early 1860s, after spending time in Chile and northern California, Le Plongeon moved to Lima, Peru, where he practiced medicine and photography, and became interested in Peruvian archaeology. On a trip to London he met and married Alice Dixon, daughter of the photographer Henry Dixon. The couple returned to North America where they devoted their lives' work to excavating, documenting, and interpreting the Maya ruins and culture of the Yucatan peninsula. They spent over a decade exploring Yucatan and Central America, excavating at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal.
  • Arrangement: Organized in five series: I. Augustus Le Plongeon papers, 1846-1914; II. Alice Dixon Le Plongeon papers, 1873-1910; III. Photographs, 1851-1933; IV. Drawings, maps, and plans, 1860-1931; V. Papers of Henry Field Blackwell and Maude Alice Blackwell, 1763-1940.
  • Physical Desc.: 39.4 linear ft. (63 boxes).
  • Summary: The collection documents the archaeological excavations, fieldwork, research, and writings of Augustus and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, the first persons to systematically excavate and photograph the Maya sites of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. The couple's pioneering work in documenting Maya sites and inscriptions with photography, which in many cases recorded sites and objects that have subsequently been damaged or lost, was overshadowed in their own lifetimes by their theories of Maya cultural diffusion, and in particular by their insistence that the Maya founded ancient Egypt. The Le Plongeons' work, and evidence of their wide-ranging interests is found in unpublished manuscripts, diaries, correspondence, drawings, plans, and photographs. The collection also contains the papers of Maude and Henry Field Blackwell, who inherited the literary estate of the Le Plongeons.
    The papers of Augustus Le Plongeon span the period from his time in Peru until his death. Early materials include sketckbooks and drawings, photographs, notebooks, manuscripts, and correspondence. Topics covered include hydro-electric therapy, earthquakes and Le Plongeon's theories on seismology, comparative religion, Inca culture, and Maya hieroglyphs and language. A scrapbook and a portfolio of writings document his sustained debate on the Jesuits and their religious practices in Peru. Unpublished manuscripts include Le Plongeon's lectures on ancient Peru, delivered before the California Academy of Sciences, his collodion emulsion recipes and notes on photography, an untitled manuscript on the Incas, and another on the Yucatan peninsula, as well as writings on ancient religions and Maya architecture. Published manuscripts include Queen Móo and the Egyptian sphynx, with reviews and publication correspondence, and The pyramid of Xochicalco, which was published posthumously.
    The papers of Alice Dixon Le Plongeon coincide with her married life, and consist of correspondence, her field diary, research notes and manuscripts, and published articles. Her correspondence includes 12 letters from Phoebe Hearst, the Le Plongeon's benefactor. Research notes, unpublished writings, published articles, and sheet music (Maya melodies of Yucatan), attest to the wide range of subjects on which Alice wrote and lectured after the couple's return from Mexico, and include not only Mexican archaeological and ethnographical topics, but also subjects such as Hawaii, old London, natural history, and women's rights. Unpublished manuscripts include the typescript for a book entitled Yucatan: its ancient palaces and modern cities.
    Photographs by the Le Plongeons include a few of Augustus's photographs from St. Thomas and Peru, and the extensive photographic documentation made by the couple during their travels in Yucatan and Central America, which records ancient architecture, sculpture, city views, and ethnographic observations. Maya sites photographed include Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Ake, and Mayapan. Several photographs document the Le Plongeons' discovery of the Chac Mool sculpture in the Platform of the Eagles and the Jaguars at Chichén Itzá. There are views of Izamal, Merida, and Progreso, and scenes from daily Yucatecan life, including photographs related to the region's long-running civil war. Although there are some early salt prints made by Augustus, most of the photographs are either albumen or collodian stereographic prints (either full or half-stereo); some later prints are gelatin silver.
    Wet collodion glass plate negatives, both single and stereographic, include the Le Plongeon's original plates made in the field, as well as the copy work negatives made for use in publications and to create lecture slides. Glass lantern slides, which the Le Plongeons used for lectures, include both copies of their original photographs and copy work. Subjects include Peru, Mexico, Pompeii, old London (from photographs by Henry Dixon), the South Pacific (including Captain Cook), and the life and voyages of Christopher Columbus.
    Drawings and plans include tracings made by the Le Plongeons of the murals in the Upper Temple of the Jaguars at Chichén Itzá, and hand-drawn maps, site plans, and building plans for Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, and Xochicalco. The tracings, in sanguine outline, represent the earliest comprehensive record of these murals which depict scenes from ancient Maya history, religious, and daily life.
    The papers of Henry and Maude Blackwell are comprised of personal and family documents, and include Henry Blackwell's drawings, patents, blueprints, and notebooks for his various inventions. Maude Blackwell's papers focus on her efforts to champion the work of the Le Plongeons, and include letters from archaeologists Frans Blom and Sylvanus Morley.
  • Language: Multiple languages
  • Language Note: Manuscripts and printed materials in English, Spanish, or French.
  • Form/Genre: Albumen prints -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Albumen prints -- Peru -- 19th century
    Blueprints -- United States -- 19th century
    Blueprints -- United States -- 20th century
    Cabinet photographs -- 19th century
    Collodion prints -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Diaries -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Gelatin silver prints -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Half stereographs -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Lantern slides -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Lantern slides -- Peru -- 19th century
    Sketchbooks -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Sketchbooks -- Peru -- 19th century
    Stereographs -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Wet collodion negatives -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Photographs, Original
  • Subjects: Columbus, Christopher Cook, James, 1728-1779 Jesuits--Peru Chac Mool Culture diffusion Earthquakes -- Peru Incas Indian art -- Mexico Inventions Maya architecture Maya language Maya mural painting and decoration Maya sculpture Mayan languages -- Writing Mayas Mayas -- Antiquities Mayas -- Religion Mayas in popular culture Photography -- Handbooks, manuals, etc Religions Seismology Chichén Itzá Site (Mexico) -- Antiquities London (England) -- Description and travel Mexico -- Antiquities Oceania -- Description and travel Peru -- Antiquities Pompeii (Extinct city) -- Description and travel São Tomé Island (Sao Tome and Principe) -- Description and travel Uxmal Site (Mexico) -- Antiquities Xochicalco (Mexico) -- Antiquities Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- History Yucatán Peninsula -- Description and travel
  • Contributors: Blackwell, Maude Alice, 1873-1957. Blackwell, Henry Field, d. 1927. Blom, Frans Ferdinand, 1893-1963. Dixon, Henry, 1820-1893. Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, 1842-1919. Morley, Sylvanus Griswold, 1883-1948. Le Plongeon, Alice D. (Alice Dixon), 1851-1910. Le Plongeon, Augustus, 1826-1908. Le Plongeon, Augustus, 1826-1908.
  • ID/Accession Number: 2642-873
  • Access/Rights: Open for use by qualified researchers. Glass slides unavailable until conservation is complete.
  • OCLC Record Number: 123379113
  • Source: GRI Library Catalog

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