Alice Dixon Le Plongeon. Governor's Palace, Uxmal, Yucatán. Selfie-1876. Courtesy of the Getty Open Content Program. http://www.blurb.com/b/6134743-a-catalog-of-the-19th-century-photographs-of-alice

Alice Dixon Le Plongeon. Governor’s Palace, Uxmal, Yucatán. Selfie-1876. Courtesy of the Getty Open Content Program.

This book by Lawrence G. Desmond is a catalog of 1,034 photographs taken by Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon in Yucatán, Mexico, and Belize from 1873 to 1885. Some of the photos are the first taken of Maya archaeological sites in Yucatán, and of the people of Yucatán during the 19th century.

The subjects in the photo are: Landscapes, Colonial and Ancient Maya Architecture, Portraits, and Ethnographic photos. The original photos are archived at: The American Museum of Natural History, the Donald Dixon album in London, the Getty Research Institute, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles. In the 1990s, uplicates of the original photos were made with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (Grant RT-20746). The duplicates can be viewed at the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the “Lawrence G. Desmond collection of Augustus Le Plongeon and Alice Dixon Le Plongeon Photographs.” Collection ID number: 5268.

To purchase a copy of the catalog as hardcopy, a PDF or just view all the pages go online to the web site of Blurb. Click on the link under the cover photo to go directly to the Catalog at the Blurb web site and view all the pages.

Title page of doctoral dissertation.

Title page of doctoral dissertation.

Lorena Careaga V

Lorena Careaga V.

A new doctoral dissertation of note: “Invaders, explorers and travelers: Everyday life in Yucatán from another perspective, 1834-1906” by Dr. Lorena Careaga. Careaga, a professor and director of the library at the Universidad del Caribe in Yucatán, recently completed a multi-year study of how life was lived in Yucatán, Mexico during the Caste War that pitted the Maya against the central government of Mexico for more than a half century.

Bibliographic reference:

Lorena Careaga, “Invasores, exploradores y viajeros: la vida cotidiana en Yucatán desde la óptica del otro, 1834-1906” [“Invaders, explorers and travelers: Everyday life in Yucatán from another perspective, 1834-1906”], Ph.D. Dissertation, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, México, February 2015.


This doctoral dissertation summarizes and critically reviews the life and work of 30 men and 3 women from outside of Mexico who traveled through Yucatán between 1834 and 1906 as explorers, expeditionary photographers, war correspondents, mercenaries, government representatives, military officers, merchants, artists and naturalists, and who left published accounts of their travels, as well as their personal appraisal of everyday life during the revolt of the Maya against the government of Mexico called the Caste War of Yucatán. The dissertation also assesses the contribution of nineteenth century travelers in Yucatán to the then developing fields of archaeology, anthropology with special emphasis on Maya ethnography.

While there are numerous studies about nineteenth century foreign travelers to Mexico, in the case of the Yucatán Peninsula this dissertation fills two important research gaps. The first is travelers’ reports of everyday life in general, and in particular, how life was lived during the Caste War while under a permanent threat of attack. Analyzed and placed in historical context are travelers’ first hand descriptions of everyday life in times of conflict, and the effects of warfare on Yucatecan life.

Secondly, most bibliographic compilations list only fifteen foreign travelers to the Yucatán Peninsula from 1834 to 1906. Some important observers were left out because their theories and opinions were considered unacceptable, and others were overlooked because their writings were not translated. This dissertation presents a comprehensive and systematic study of all thirty-three foreign travelers.

Finally, Careaga compares and contrasts photographs, drawings, maps, engravings, vocabularies, and other documentary materials produced by travelers, explorers, and expeditionary photographers, and assesses their contribution to our knowledge of life in Yucatán during this period of revolutionary conflict.

Scholars in dark glasses. Photos of the MMARP symposia, 1982 to 1994. To preview the book click on: http://www.blurb.com/b/5731589-scholars-in-dark-glasses-photos-of-mmarp-symposia

   Scholars in dark glasses. Photos of MMARP symposia, 1982 to 1994.                                To preview the book click on: http://www.blurb.com/b/5731589-scholars-in-dark-glasses-photos-of-mmarp-symposia

After almost 30 years, the photos I took of scholars who participated in the ground-breaking annual symposia sponsored by the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) are now available in my book: Scholars in Dark Glasses. Photos of MMARP Symposia 1982 to 1994.

The photos are documentary in style, and are of the archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, historians of religions, art historians, historians, archaeo-astronomers, and many others from Mexico, the US, Japan, UK, and Europe who contributed to the development of a new direction in the study of the life and religious practices of the Aztecs, Maya, and other ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica.

Photos selected for the book are from the Lawrence Gustave Desmond Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project Photographs collection archived by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (GRI Special Collections accession number 2014.R.16).

Book metrics:

An Introduction illustrated with 9 photos

Symposium photos: 165

Pages: 196

Presentation: 10×8 inch Landscape

Paper: Premium Matt

Available from Blurb in Paperback, Hardback, and Image Wrap or as a PDF.

Lawrence G. Desmond, Palo Alto

To learn more about the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project click on this link: http://mmarp.com/

Photo Books by Lawrence G. Desmond

Blurb is an online platform for creating, and printing independent books. By going to Blurb’s Internet web site, and searching for Lawrence G. Desmond you can see all the photos in each of the below books. Or, just click on this link: http://www.blurb.com/search/site_search?search=Lawrence+G+Desmond

Growing up in California, 1947-1959. Toy Racers and Giant Salamanders. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 142 pages. 123 photos. 2014

2012 Blue Water and Rocky Lights. My life in the Coast Guard, 1957-1960. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 66 pages. 120 photos. 2012

The John Muir Trail. From Florence Lake to Cedar Grove, 1962. San Francisco: Blurb. Co-authored with Kenneth L. Parker. 8×10” Landscape. 94 pages. 70 photos. 2009

The San Francisco Peace March– Vietnam War Moratorium, November 15, 1969. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 48 pages. 44 photos. 2013

An Unintentional Photographer, 1968-1970. Mirrored Rooms and Chain-link Fences. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 162 pages. 143 photos. 2014

Tepetzintla, Sierra Norte de Puebla, 1972. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 128 pages. 119 photos. 2013

Santo Tomás Jalieza, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1973. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 76 pages. 65 photos. 2013

Mexico as it was. Photographs of life in the 1970s. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 144 pages. 139 photos. 2013

Mexico- Landscape and Architecture. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10” Landscape. 124 pages. 114 photos. 2014

Scholars in dark glasses. Photos of MMARP symposia, 1982 to 1994. San Francisco: Blurb. 8×10″ Landscape. 195 pages, 165 photos. 2014


An Unintentional Photographer. 1968-1970. Mirrored Rooms and Chain-link Fences. By Lawrence G. Desmond. 2014. Mirrored showroom, San Francisco, 1970. (Cover)

An Unintentional Photographer. 1968-1970. Mirrored Rooms and Chain-link Fences. By Lawrence G. Desmond. 2014. Mirrored showroom, San Francisco, 1970.                      (Front cover jacket)

Most of the photos in this book, An Unintentional Photographer, 1968-1970. Mirrored Rooms and Chain-link Fences are of the people, landscape, and architecture of San Francisco, the Sierra Nevada, and Arizona. Those photos were taken just before I left for Mexico and photographed its people, landscape, and architecture.

An Unintentional Photographer, 1968-1970. University of the Americas, 1970. (Rear cover)

An Unintentional Photographer, 1968-1970. University of the Americas, 1970. (Rear cover jacket)





To illustrate my transition to Mexico, I have also included in this book some of the photos I took during my first few months at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula. What struck me right away were the guards, and a barbed wire topped chain-link fence that created an isolated university for foreigners, and Mexicans with enough money. I tried to show the exclusion, isolation, and privilege by my photos. Fortunately, since the 1980s the university has changed, and it now fosters community inclusiveness that was absent in the early years.

The book has four parts: 1) Cityscapes and other Elements- San Francisco; 2) People- San Francisco, Sausalito and south to Ladera, and Cholula, Mexico; 3) Natural Abstracts, Landscapes, Flora and a Frog- The Far West, and 4) Outside and Inside the Universidad de las Americas, Cholula, Mexico.

Recently, I donated my Mexico photos from the 1970s to Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology where they are now archived.

Selected photos from that collection were published in the following books:

Tepetzintla, Sierra Norte de Puebla, 1972

Santo Tomás Jalieza, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1973

Mexico as it was. Photographs of life as it was in the 1970s

Mexico- Landscape and Architecture

            The following link will take you to the current book, and to the others available from Blurb. http://www.blurb.com/search/site_search?search=Lawrence+G+Desmond

Growing up in California, 1947-1959. By Lawrence G. Desmond.

Growing up in California, 1947-1959.                                        By Lawrence G. Desmond.

Strictly speaking, this book, Growing up in California, 1947-1959. Toy Racers and Giant Salamanders, is not about archaeology. It’s about the photographic skills I acquired over a period of 12 years that led directly to the more professional-level photography of later years in support of my archaeological and ethnographic projects in Mexico, and work with the 19th century photos of Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon.

A few years ago I began making my photos publically available. I began by publishing a co-authored book about backpacking in the Sierra Nevada of California, then a book about my four years in the Coast Guard, another of my photos of the 1969 San Francisco peace march, and finally four books of photos of Mexico.

But, Growing up in California brought me back to 1947 when I started taking photos as a pre-teen living at home where I was influenced by the family album photos of people and the environment taken by my mother and other family members. In choosing the photos for this book I looked closely at my photography for those first 12 years, but then extended my review to 1970. During the first 12 years my skills improved quickly, but there were a few years when the learning curve was much less steep. Then, beginning around 1968 my photographic output suddenly increased ten fold, and my photography matured with the help of photographers Ansel Adams and Pirkle Jones.

The following summarizes my photography through 1970:

“Looking back at my first 12 years of photography, I consistently documented the people and environment in my life, and that pattern has continued even to this day. My sense of design and technical expertise had its greatest gain in the two years prior to my departure for Mexico to study archaeology. Those gains were due to the training I received from masters of photography such as Adams, Jones and others, a ten fold increase my photographic output, and careful review of my camera work. By 1970, I was prepared to take on the photographic challenge of Mexico, and while my studies in archaeology at the university were invaluable, photography took me far beyond the classroom to villages and archaeological sites where I learned directly about Mexico’s ancient history and culture.” (Growing up in California, 1947-1959, 2014.Page 102)

Growing up in California, 1947-1959 is organized into two parts. The first part has photos taken from 1947 to 1953, and the second has those taken from 1954 to 1959. Part I begins with photos of students and activities in the 7th grade, and ends when I graduated from high school. Part II includes photos taken during my university years of dorm life and some family photos, and ends with photos of Coast Guard shipboard life.

A link to all DesmondBooks, including this new book available from Blurb of San Francisco is below. Photos in all the books can be viewed standard size or full screen by using the Preview command.


Mexico- Landscape and Architecture. Jacket cover.

Mexico- Landscape and Architecture.

Preview book: Mexico- Landscape and Architecture by Lawrence G. Desmond

Hot off the press: Mexico- Landscape and Architecture. After publishing three books that feature the peoples of Mexico, I have just finished my first book of photos that highlight the landscape and architecture. Most of the photos were taken in the 1970s when I was living in Puebla, and attending the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula. The photos are now archived at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum.

I took advantage of days off from classes at the Universidad de las Americas to travel around Mexico with family and friends. We were graduate students in art history and archaeology, and that required a stop at nearly every Colonial church and archaeological site. The trips, along with my photos, were pretty much unplanned.

I was seldom without my camera because, for me, the Cholula-Puebla region is one of the most photogenic in Mexico. To the west are the snow capped volcanoes of Popocatepetl (17,802 ft, 5,426 m) and Iztaccihuatl (17,343 ft, 5,286 m); and scattered throughout the region are small farming villages and, some say, 365 Colonial churches. True or not, the churches are architectural jewels, and a photographic challenge.

Of course, Mexico has many landscapes — the dry and open spaces of Oaxaca that are reminiscent of Northern California, the damp-steep mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla, the rugged western mountains near Tepic, volcanoes both dormant and ready to erupt, deserts in Northern Mexico and Baja California, the flat limestone plain of Yucatán surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and the thick humid tropical rainforest along the Gulf Coast that penetrates inland for hundreds of miles.

Most everywhere you travel in Mexico you are likely to see the remains of an ancient civilization. One of the most spectacular, near Mexico City, is Teotihuacan (popularly known as “The Pyramids”), but equally spectacular are the great cities of the Maya such as Uxmal and Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, and in Oaxaca is Monte Alban built on a mountaintop by the Zapotecs, and further south is Mitla with its delicate stone work made by the Mixtecs.

The photos in the book were selected from my Kodachrome transparencies and black-and-white negatives. With a few exceptions, they date from the early 1970s, and were taken with a 35mm Leicaflex SL camera using 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm lenses. The 35mm Kodachrome film was processed by Kodak labs in Palo Alto, California and Mexico City, and I processed the black-and-white Kodak Tri-X film at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula using Edwal FG7 developer mixed with sodium sulfite.

Weird-Fantastic-Astounding. Find the answer in HAIG.

Weird-Fantastic-Astounding, but all in a day’s work for an archaeologist.

The Society for American Archaeology History of Archaeology Interest Group Newsletter can now be read online. Professor Bernard K. Means, editor of the newsletter, has a particular interest in the New Deal archaeology carried out in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Like everyone else in the 1930s, literally hundreds of archaeologists were out of work, and received funding along with artists, photographers, and musicians to carry out their research.

But, more than WPA funded archaeology, Means publishes articles on lesser-known pioneers in archaeology such Americanist Zelia Nuttall. An in-depth review of the Ross Parmenter (1911-1999) biography of Nuttall (1500 pages and unpublished) by graduate student Peter Diderich at Rostock University in Germany is an example of the newsletter’s excellent coverage of the field (see the January 7, 2014 Archaeoplanet.blog posting). Another important feature of the newsletter is: “Recent and Noteworthy Publications.” It’s indispensable for anyone trying to keep up with the flood of material being published about the history of archaeology.

Means announced in the November issue of the newsletter that “HAIG” will meet at 1PM on April 25th during the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Austin, Texas.

Issues of the Newsletter back to 2011 can be accessed at: http://www.saa.org/HistoryofArchaeologyInterestGroup/tabid/1434/Default.aspx

Mexico- As it was Cover 1            The photographs in Mexico- As it was were taken in the early 1970s during days off from classes at the University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico. We traveled to cities and villages in the mountainous dry highlands, and to the humid tropical lowlands of Mexico. The photos show life before the rapid social and economic changes of the final two decades of the 20th century.

The color and black-and-white photos are grouped into separate sections, even though there is some overlap in subject matter. Both sections begin with rural farming, fishing, and village life. Next, in contrast to that way of life, are the middle class on Sunday outings, the urban professionals such as a Puebla doctor and his family, a Puebla supermarket, and my teachers who were university-trained archaeologists. Then come the young women of important Puebla families, dressed in traditional sombreros and flowing yellow dresses, who showed their astonishing synchronized horse riding skill–sidesaddle. I am still amazed at how they stayed on their horses when coming to a sudden stop from a gallop. Not to be left out are the one percent who own large farms, ex-haciendas, cattle and bull breeding ranches, and live a life with an international flavor, yet remain very Mexican.

If you would like to Preview the book on the Blurb web site click on this link:

MEXICO – As it was. Photographs of Life in the 1970s. by Lawrence G. Desmond:| Blurb Books

Archaeologist Zeiia Magdalena Nuttall

Archaeologist Zeiia Magdalena Nuttall

Peter Diderich, a graduate student at the University of Rostock in Germany, has written an important and in-depth review of the unpublished manuscript Zelia Nuttall and the recovery of Mexico’s past for the Society for American Archaeology’s Newsletter of The History of Archaeology Interest Group. Mr. Diderich was a month at the Bancroft Library of the University of California Berkeley in 2013 reading the Ross Parmenter (1911-1999) 1,500 page Zelia Nuttall and …. (1857-1933) manuscript. Parmenter’s biography is an extraordinary piece of scholarship that is encyclopedic in scope covering the world of Mesoamerican archaeology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mr. Parmenter submitted his biography to the University of New Mexico Press in the mid-1990s, and after review by this writer it was recommended for publication. Unfortunately, the publishing expense due to its great length prevented publication.

To read the full review click on the following link that will take you to the HAIG Newsletter, Volume 3, Numbers 3 & 4, pages 8 to 17, November 2013.    http://www.saa.org/Portals/0/SAA/ABOUTSAA/interestgroups/haig/SAA%20HAIG%20newsletter_v3_no3.pdf

As an introduction to his review, Mr. Diderich is quoted below:

“At the age of 88, Ross Parmenter died in 1999 before he was able to finish the manuscript about Nuttall. In his will he stipulated three copies to the Latin American Library at Tulane University, to the Harvard University Library at Cambridge, and to the University of California at Berkeley.18 As for the literary rights, Ross Parmenter’s heirs19 donated these to the Latin American Library.20 There the Latin American Library established the Ross Parmenter Collection, comprising not only the manuscript but also 100 boxes with vast material that Parmenter had accumulated about Nuttall, mostly but not exclusively, for the biography.

            “The manuscript itself is not only a mere narrative about Zelia Nuttall as an important figure in archaeology and anthropology at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. This manuscript is also a reflection on the archaeological scene at the turn of the century. In that regard Ross Parmenter succeeded in piecing together many details into a broad narration about the institutionalization and professionalization of American archaeology and anthropology at this time.”  Peter Diderich, 2013.