Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Lawrence G. Desmond Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP)
Date (inclusive): 1982-2013
Desmond, Lawrence Gustave,
9 Linear Feet
(6 boxes and 1 flatfile)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
The collection comprises Lawrence G.
Desmond's photographic documentation of symposia organized by the Moses Mesoamerican Archive
and Research Project (MMARP) held between 1982 and 1999. Included are approximately 1,700
black-and-white and color slides and 179 gelatin silver prints including a panoramic print
of the 1989 symposium participants at the Templo Mayor Museum in Mexico City.
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Language: Collection material is in English.
Archaeologist, author and photographer, Lawrence Gustave Desmond, was born in San Francisco
in 1935. His interest in photography began as a pre-teen growing up in the nearby small town
of San Carlos. After receiving a BA from the University of Santa Clara in 1957 Desmond saw
active duty as a Coast Guard officer from 1957 to 1960 and served in the coast Guard Reserve
through the 1960s, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He completed an MBA at San
Jose State in 1964 and went on to a career in human resources and management development
with Silicon Valley electronic manufacturing companies. During this period Desmond developed
an interest in Mesoamerican archaeology to the extent that he left his business career to
pursue studies first at the Universidad de Las Americas in Cholula, México, where he
received an MA in cultural anthropology in 1979, and then at the University of Colorado,
Boulder where he was awarded a PhD in anthropology and archeology in 1983. It was during his
time at Boulder that he first became involved with the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and
Research Project (MMARP) for which he ultimately became its unofficial photographer.
Desmond has carried out archaeological research in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras for more
than forty years. He has taught at the University of Minnesota and San Francisco State
University and has published numerous articles about his archaeological and heritage
preservation projects including geophysical and photogrammetric surveys at the Yucatán sites
of Uxmal and Chichén Itzá. His work of 30 years researching the lives and work of Augustus
and Alice Le Plongeon, who lived and traveled throughout Yucatán for ten years in the late
19th century, is the subject of his PhD dissertation and two books,
Dream of Maya: Augustus and Alice Le Plongeon in Nineteenth-century Yucatán
Phyllis Messenger (1988) and
Yucatán Through Her Eyes: Alice Dixon Le
Plongeon, Writer & Expeditionary Photographer
Desmond is currently a senior research fellow in archaeology with the Moses Mesoamerican
Archive and Research Project at Harvard University and a research associate with the
Department of anthropology at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco. His blog
ArcheoPlanet covers topics in archeology: http://archaeoplanet.wordpress.com. Most recently
Desmond has published a series of books documenting his life-long avocation of photography
on the on-line platform Blurb, with titles ranging from
Growing Up in
California, 1947-1959: Toy Racers and Giant Salamanders
Mexico as It was. Life in the 1970s.
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Lawrence Gustave Desmond Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) photographs,
1982-1994, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2014.R.16.
Gift of Lawrence G. Desmond. Acquired in 2014.
The collection was processed by Lilly Tsukahira and Beth Ann Guynn in 2014; Guynn wrote the
Related Archival Materials
Desmond's photographs of Mexico are held by the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection comprises Lawrence Desmond's photographic documentation of symposia
organized by the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) held between 1982
and 1999 at the University of Colorado-Boulder; the Museo Templo Mayor, Mexico City; and
Princeton University. Included in the collection are approximately 1,700 black-and-white and
color slides, approximately 179 gelatin silver prints of various sizes, and a panoramic
print of the 1989 symposium participants at the Templo Mayor Museum in Mexico City, also
reproduced as a symposium poster. Desmond's unpublished catalog of his MMARP photographs,
"Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project, 1982-1994: Catalog of Black-and-White and Color
Negatives and Transparencies," 2013, accompanies the collection. Also included are two
signed copies of Davíd Carrasco and Jane Marie Swanberg,
the Dawn: Mircea Eliade in Perspective
, 1985, illustrated with a number of
Desmond's early MMARP photographs.
Davíd Carrasco, a historian of religions, and archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, the
founders of MMARP along with archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni, met in 1976 via a letter of
introduction from the archaeologist Pedro Armillas. At the time Carrasco was conducting
field research in Mexico, while at the University of Chicago, and Matos was Director of
Pre-Hispanic Monuments. Finding they had common interests they began to discuss the need to
bring Mesoamerican materials into dynamic exchange with the academic discipline of the
history of religions, and especially the history of religion and culture in the Americas. In
its early years their project was known as the Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project
(MARP). In 1984 Raphael Moses, a water rights attorney and member of the University of
Colorado's board of regents, became interested in the project and agreed to help fund it;
the project was subsequently renamed the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project
(MMARP). The MMARP's intellectual mission is to organize and transmit new knowledge about
the history of religion and society in Mesoamerica. Its educational program is modeled on
the interdisciplinary work of the Templo Mayor Project in Mexico City guided by Eduardo
Matos Moctezuma. MMARP is currently housed in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and
Ethnology at Harvard University.
In 1982, Carrasco invited Matos Moctezuma to give a talk on the excavation of the Templo
Mayor in Mexico City at the University of Colorado-Boulder. This is the first of the MMARP
events documented in the collection. Later that year Mircea Eliade, the noted Romanian
historian of religion from the University of Chicago whose ideas had influenced Carrasco and
Matos Moctezuma, led a week-long multi-disciplinary symposium at Boulder. Lawrence Desmond,
then a graduate student in anthropology and archaeology at Boulder, who was already making
photographs for the MMARP Templo Mayor Archaeological Site Photo Archive, photographed these
early events, thereby becoming the unofficial photographer for MMARP. He continued to
document its activities until 1999.
Carrasco, Matos Moctezuma, Eliade, and his wife Christinel Cotescue Eliade, are prominently
featured in the photographs. Other symposia participants pictured in the collection include
Anthony Aveni, Elizabeth Boone, José Cuellar, Barbara Fash, Doris Heyden, Jaime Litvak King,
Cecelia Klein, Leonardo López Luján, Charles K. Long, Phyllis Messenger, Raphael Moses,
Henry B. Nicholson, and Desmond himself. Most of the photographs were taken during the
symposia and at symposia receptions and meals. Symposia speakers and participants are
represented in individual images and in both posed and candid group portraits.
The photographic materials are black-and-white (negatives or gelatin silver prints), unless
otherwise noted. The negatives and their corresponding contact prints are numbered 4-01 to
4-47 and were originally arranged sequentially in a single binder, the order of which has
Arranged chronologically by date of symposium.
Subjects - Names
Fash, Barbara W.,
López Luján, Leonardo
Boone, Elizabeth Hill
Eliade, Mircea, 1907-1986
Aveni, Anthony F.
Nicholson, H. B. (Henry
Moses, Raphael J.,
Matos Moctezuma, Eduardo
Litvak King, Jaime
Klein, Cecelia F.
Long, Charles H.
Subjects - Corporate Bodies
Museo del Templo Mayor (Mexico City,
Mesoamerican Archive and Research
Genres and Forms of Material
Panoramas -- Mexico -- 20th century
Group portraits -- United States -- 20th century
Contact prints -- United States -- 20th century
Group portraits -- Mexico -- 20th century
Gelatin silver prints -- United States -- 20th century
Color slides -- Mexico -- 20th century
Desmond, Lawrence Gustave,