Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Desmond (Lawrence) Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MARP) Photographs
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Lawrence G. Desmond Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) Photographs
    Date (inclusive): 1982-2013
    Number: 2014.R.16
    Creator/Collector: Desmond, Lawrence Gustave, 1935-
    Physical Description: 9 Linear Feet (6 boxes and 1 flatfile)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: 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.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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, A Dream of Maya: Augustus and Alice Le Plongeon in Nineteenth-century Yucatán , with Phyllis Messenger (1988) and Yucatán Through Her Eyes: Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, Writer & Expeditionary Photographer (2009).
    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 to Mexico as It was. Life in the 1970s.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Lawrence Gustave Desmond Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) photographs, 1982-1994, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2014.R.16.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Lawrence G. Desmond. Acquired in 2014.

    Processing History

    The collection was processed by Lilly Tsukahira and Beth Ann Guynn in 2014; Guynn wrote the finding aid.

    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, Waiting for 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 been retained.


    Arranged chronologically by date of symposium.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Fash, Barbara W., 1955-
    Heyden, Doris
    López Luján, Leonardo
    Eliade, Christinel
    Boone, Elizabeth Hill
    Carrasco, David
    Eliade, Mircea, 1907-1986
    Aveni, Anthony F.
    Nicholson, H. B. (Henry B.)
    Moses, Raphael J., 1913-
    Matos Moctezuma, Eduardo
    Litvak King, Jaime
    Klein, Cecelia F.
    Long, Charles H.

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Museo del Templo Mayor (Mexico City, Mexico)
    Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project--Congresses

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Panoramas -- Mexico -- 20th century
    Group portraits -- United States -- 20th century
    Photographs, Original
    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, 1935-