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Scope and Contents

Series 07, Photographs, consists of photographic negatives including silver gelatin glass plate, polyester, acetate, and nitrate negatives as well images in positive format including prints and glass lantern slides. Photographs in this series are organized into subseries by image format, then into files by geographic location depicted. Earl Morris photographed the archaeological excavations under his supervision. The majority of the photographs depict sites in the process of excavation or repair, surrounding landscapes, excavated objects, and human remains. A smaller but still substantial number of photographs capture archaeological artifacts in a studio setting. People often feature in photographs either deliberately, such as through staged photographs of excavation work or group portraits, or incidentally in the course of photographing the site of excavation. These individuals are rarely named by the captions that occasionally accompany photographs. Their identities can best be discerned by consulting the documents associated with the relevant geographic area in Series 02, Fieldwork. Some photographs include Navajo/Diné individuals. These images appear most frequently in the files for Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto. It is probable that Earl Morris made most of the images in this collection. Some doubt is thrown on this statement, however, by lack of knowledge of how photography was practiced in the field: it may be the case that other individuals on the excavation crew were trained in photography, as is suggested by the photographs in which Morris is himself depicted. Ann Morris, practiced at arhcaeological illustration, may have played a role in creating photo documentation as well. Some photographs within the collection of lantern slides and prints were almost certainly taken by other individuals: they depict content from institutions or sites with which Morris was more loosely associated or feature another person's name in the caption. Among these are images taken by photographer Merl LaVoy and aerial photographs taken by aviator Charles Lindbergh above Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto. The same image may be found across multiple formats in this collection. For instance, a photograph of a ruin in the Gobernador district exists as a glass plate negative, a lantern slide, and a print. The exact processes that created these replicant images are unknown. It is likely that the glass, acetate, and nitrate negatives served as originals from which prints and lantern slides were derived. It is also possible, however, that nitrate and acetate negatives were themselves produced from glass plates or other formats.


  • Creation: 1897-1984


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Some items in this collection have been restricted either in keeping with the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials or because of legal protections afforded to archaeological sites by the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). Detailed explanations are available below. By default, these items are not available for in-person research or for viewing online. Individuals or groups seeking access to restricted material should contact the museum at the address below.

Many photographs in this collection show the remains of native ancestors as well burial sites. With the goal of practicing cultural sensitivity, the museum has restricted all images of human remains, images meant to document burial sites, and images of funerary objects. Whether in person or through digital copy, these items are unavailable to the general public. In cases when museum staff could not determine the origin of an object, we have used context to make case-by-case judgments while erring on the side of restricting the image. Textual documents which inventory or otherwise concern human remains, however, have not been restricted. Researchers should be aware that they will frequently encounter descriptions of remains in field catalogues, reports, and journals. In these documents, deceased individuals are frequently referred to as 'specimens' or 'mummies.' In addition, field journals and photographs occasionally document unethical treatment of these individuals. Individuals or groups with concerns about the public availability of this material are encouraged to contact the museum at the email provided above.

Section §470hh of ARPA states that “Information concerning the nature and location of any archaeological resource for which the excavation or removal requires a permit or other permission under this chapter … may not be made available to the public…” Accordingly, we have restricted items that provide detailed information about the location of an archaeological site. The restricted items in this category are most often maps and, less frequently, textual documents that provide instructions on how to navigate to a site. Those seeking access to these items or those with concerns should contact the musem at the email provided above.


16 linear feet


Photographs are arranged into subseries based on photographic medium.

Processing Information

From an undetermined time until 2019, photographs were stored in filing cabinets and grouped first by format type and, within format type, based loosely on geographic origin. This scheme was refined as the negatives were rehoused and partially digitized in 2019 and 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the CU Museum of Natural History Repository

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University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder Colorado 80302