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Finding Aid to the Irene S. Vickrey Papers IT2002.210
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and contents
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical note
  • Access
  • Use
  • Preferred citation
  • Acquisition
  • Historical note

  • Title: Irene S. Vickrey Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: IT2002.210
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Autry Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.8 Linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1935-1941
    Abstract: Irene S. Vickrey (1911-1946) was the Works Progress Adminstration supervisor at the archaeological project at Besh-Ba-Gowah, near Globe, Arizona. The papers in the Irene Vickrey collection reflect, for the most part, her work on the Besh-Ba-Gowah archaeological project.
    creator: Vickrey, Irene S.

    Scope and contents

    The papers in the Irene Vickrey collection reflect, for the most part, her work on the Besh-Ba-Gowah archaeological project.


    The collection is arranged into three series: Besh-Ba-Gowah Project Records; Personal Papers; and Photographs. The Besh-Ba-Gowah Project Records are largely comprised of Vickrey's field notes concerning ceramics and other objects found at the site, as well as graves and rooms that were excavated. Since the project was carried out between 1935 and 1940, all material found in this series is dated "1935-1940" except where more exact dates could be located in the notebooks or files themselves. There is only a small amount of material in the Personal Files. All of the material is listed in the container list. The Photographs are arranged by subject (i.e. "landscapes," or "Ceramics and Implements Displays"). Many appear to be of the Besh-Ba-Gowah excavation site. Few are dated or numbered. Thus, like the Besh-Ba-Gowah Project Records, they are all assigned the date "1935-1940." The Grave Record and photographs of graves and burials are restricted.

    Biographical note

    Irene S. Vickrey (1911-1946) was the Works Progress Adminstration supervisor at the archaeological project at Besh-Ba-Gowah, near Globe, Arizona.
    Vickrey was born in Hume, Illinois, on April 4, 1911. She first studied archaeology at the University of Indiana, where she met and married Parke E. Vickrey. Both of them were selected to attend University of Arizona summer archaeology camps, directed by Dr. Emil Haury. Vickrey went on to study at the University of Arizona for an additional year, including two summers of field work.
    In 1935, Vickrey was one of three people elected to the Board of Directors of the newly formed Gila County Archaeological Society. She began a formal excavation of the prehistoric ruins near Globe, Arizona. The area had first been surveyed by Dr. Adolph Bandolier in the 1880s, and further explored by amateur archaeologist William Davenport. During the Depression, Dr. Emil Haury of the University of Arizona organized a statewide archaeological project as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA project funded the excavation at Besh-Ba-Gowah as well as providing for a museum to house the excavated items. Since federal policy prohibited married women from holding government jobs, Vickrey was appointed 'sponsor supervisor' instead of 'foreman' of the project. Picking up where Davenport had left off, Vickrey named the site "Besh-Ba-Gowah," an Apache word meaning "place of metal" or "metal camp." She directed the project from 1935 to Oct. 4, 1940.
    The site is located just south of Globe, Arizona at the confluence of Pinal Creek and Ice House Canyon Wash. Archaeological evidence indicates that the site was occupied as early as 550 AD, with continuous occupation through approximately 1450 AD by the Hohokam and then Salado cultures. During the Salado period (1150-1450), the site functioned as a ceremonial, redistribution and food storage complex since it was located on a major trading route from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico to the Salado River. The activities of the Besh-Ba-Gowah project included excavation and repair of significant ruins, and the preparation of any collected materials. It ended abruptly in 1940 with the death of the director of the project. Between 1935 and 1940, all of the surface rooms at the site were completely excavated and 350 burials were located.
    Unfortunately, Vickrey had many health problems and she died very young, at age 25 in Jan. 1946. After she died, her extensive field notes for Besh-Ba-Gowah were set aside for 40 years, until archaeologists returned to the site. Today, the ruin is part of a city park. Parts of it have been bulldozed.


    Collection is partially open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.


    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred citation

    Irene S. Vickrey Papers, 1935-1941, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.44; [folder number] [folder title][date].


    Donated by Linn Skinner, 2002.

    Historical note

    Besh Ba Gowah Pueblo is located at the confluence of Pinal Creek and Ice House Canyon Wash, south of present-day Globe, Arizona. Besh-Ba-Gowah has one of the largest single site archaeological collections in the southwest and is one of the most significant finds of Southwest archaeology. It is one of the largest and most complex of the Salado communities. Archaeologists consider Besh-Ba-Gowah a ceremonial, redistribution and food storage complex. Salado Culture is identified as the cultural period from 1150 to 1450 in the Tonto Basin.
    Besh-Ba-Gowah is an Apache word meaning "Place of Metals," and refers to modern mining activity. First archaeological investigation was by Adolf F. Bandelier in 1883. Bandelier surveyed the ruin and produced a map. In 1935 excavation was begun. Complete excavation of the surface rooms was eventually accomplished. Three hundred and fifty burials were found. The project ended in 1940 and results have not been published due to the untimely death of the project director.
    Half of the pueblo ruin has been bulldozed. The north quarter of the ruin and parts of the east and west edges have been bulldozed. In 1948 the Army Corps of Engineers bulldozed part of a ruin to smooth an area for a Boy Scout gathering. In 1982 the eastern edge was bulldozed for a softball field. The ruin is part of a city park.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Besh-Ba-Gowah Site (Ariz.)
    Excavations (Archaeology) -- Arizona
    Field notes
    Indians of North America -- Arizona -- Antiquities
    Salado Culture -- Arizona
    Women archaeologists