Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Rainbow Bridge/Monument Valley Expedition Archives, 1915-1996 (bulk 1933-1983)
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (150.77 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Rainbow Bridge/Monument Valley Expedition Archives,
    Date (inclusive): 1915-1996 (bulk 1933-1983)
    Collection number: A243
    Collector: University of California, Los Angeles. The Fowler Museum at UCLA, Archaeology Collections Facility
    Extent: 8 linear feet (14 boxes, 1 drawer in flat file)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. The Fowler Museum at UCLA, Archaeological Collections Facility
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1549
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    Access to the archives collection is by appointment.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Registrar. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Fowler Museum at UCLA as the owner 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.

    Digital Representations Available

    Digital representations of selected materials and corresponding objects are available as part of the Container List of the finding aid.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Rainbow Bridge/Monument Valley Expedition Archives, The Fowler Museum at UCLA, Archaeology Collections Facility, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Scope and Content

    The Rainbow Bridge/Monument Valley Expedition (RBMVE) Archives results from excavations that were conducted between 1933 and 1938 along the Colorado River basin directed by Ansel Hall, Head of Education for the Western Region, National Park Service, based in UC-Berkeley. The interest of the National Park Service to establish a park in the Rainbow Bridge area of southeastern Utah and down into Tsegi Canyon in northern Arizona gave Hall the opportunity to organize an intensive survey of this extended area, covering 3,000 square miles. Intending to take only ten experienced men from UC-Berkeley for a preliminary exploration of the area in 1933, he instead led seventy-five men from major universities around the country. A caravan left from each coast, one from The Explorers Club in New York City, the other from UC-Berkeley. They converged on a predetermined date in the desolate settlement of Kayenta, Arizona. The archive consists of maps, photographs and negatives, site cards, original field notes and diaries, catalog ledgers, ceramic tabulation strips, cassette tapes, published and unpublished reports on the progress of ethnographic, archaeological, and botanical research, funding and organizational documentation, analyses, and correspondence. The collection also includes primary materials relating to the Fowler exhibition Honoring the Dead: Anasazi Ceramics from the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, 1983, at the Museum of Cultural History.
    From the inception of the project, Hall invited a mixture of promising, young scientists to participate, along with men established in their fields to direct day-to-day field operations. Systematic excavation and meticulous recording of sites and natural resources were important new components to this expedition. Lyndon Hargrave, the first field director and Curator of Archaeology of the Museum of Northern Arizona, also put into practice the new ideas of surface collection as a survey tool, establishing a ceramic sequence, and the concept of open-site excavation. Scientific research was on-going in the areas of archaeology, zoology, geology, botany, biology, and the new sciences of dendrochronology, ethnography, and ethnobotany. Field work was conducted from small auxiliary camps, some based in very isolated areas accessible only by pack train and supplied from the base camp located first in Kayenta at a Trading Post and later at the head of Marsh Pass. Mapping was a strong focus throughout the six seasons and since only some small-scale government maps existed engineers were given the task of creating detailed topographic maps of the greater area, of the major sites, and of major geological features, including Rainbow Bridge itself. Hall wanted results published for all on-going work. He established a RBMVE newsletter where preliminary reports appeared.
    Groups were assigned to pre-defined areas of the site and each day explorations were conducted by a group of volunteers, led by an experienced archaeologist. Each man carried a number of blank "site cards" which were completed when evidence of potsherds, flint chips, masonry remains, or charcoal concentrations were discovered. Photographs were taken and the site was sketched. At the end of the day the cards and potsherd collections were taken back to the camp and the cards were typed in duplicate. The RBMVE archives includes these site cards, as well as the photographs and sketches.
    Many participants later pursued careers that were inspired by their work with RBMVE or at the very least they returned repeatedly to the area. The film footage, photographs, and memoirs are a tribute to the well-rounded experience, both professionally and personally, for the approximately 300 men who passed through the expedition. Photographers, pilots, artists of note, well-known archaeologists and scientists traveled to the southwest to work with the expedition as word spread of the work being done in this dramatic spot.
    We know from the existing photographs and memoirs of participants that the local Navajo became an integral part of the daily routine and success of the expedition. In addition to acting as guides, they were camp cooks, provided meat and food to the isolated auxiliary camps, and were packers. Photographs also show Navajo men and their families with the RBMVE participants in leisure time playing games, trading, and relaxing with the young men on the expedition. Several participants embarked on some of the first ethnographic studies, including one study, which yielded around 500 photographs of Navajo daily life.
    The larger national park never did come to fruition. Only the National Monument remained, established in 1909, to preserve the large and well-know sites of Betatakin, Kiet Siel, and Inscription House. Hall continued to find funding to bring four of the six years worth of the collections and related documentation to UCLA. He also found money to set up a lab for continued analysis for Ralph Beals, the first Anthropology professor at UCLA, George Brainerd, whom Beals later hired to teach archaeology, and Watson Smith, recently of Harvard. The result was the monograph, Archaeological Studies in Northeast Arizona: a report on the archaeological work of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition (UC-Berkeley Press, 1945).

    Chronological list of field survey leaders:

    1933-1934: Lyndon Hargrave, Alonzo Pond
    1935: Edward Hall, Ben Wetherill, George Brainerd, Watson Smith
    1936: Charles Amsden, George Brainerd, Watson Smith
    1937: Ralph Beals
    1938: George Brainerd, Ralph Beals

    Chronology of Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley population

    250 BC - 450 AD Basketmaker II
    450 - 750 Basketmaker III
    750 - 900 Pueblo I
    900 - 1100 Pueblo II
    1100 - 1300 Pueblo III

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • Administration - materials related to the management of the expedition or artifacts collected from the expedition.
    • Burial - materials related to burials and burial sites found at Rainbow Bridge
    • Ceramic analysis - materials related to analyzing pottery and potsherds, as well as other ceramic objects.
    • Ceramic seriation - materials related specifically to cataloging ceramics
    • Dating techniques - materials related to dating objects and items found at site using either carbon-14 or obsidian hydration.
    • Exhibit - materials relating to the exhibition Honoring the Dead: Anasazi Ceramics from the Rainbow Bridge - Monument Valley Expedition and its accompanying monograph, at the Museum of Cultural History in 1983.
    • Expedition history - documents related to the expedition which would include funding, planning, archaeologists, etc.
    • Field notes - notes taken in the field. These include notebooks, diaries, site and artifact cards, photographs taken of excavation or artifacts found in situ, field catalogs, and select maps.
    • Non-ceramic artifacts - materials found at site or described that are non-ceramic.
    • Publication - published and unpublished documents based on expedition. Note: this is different from Reports.
    • Reports - published and unpublished reports on progress of excavations or items found at site.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition
    Excavations (archaeology)--Arizona
    Excavation (archaeology)--Utah

    Related Material

    Additional repositories of materials relating to the archaeological work of the Rainbow Bridge/Monument Valley Expedition include:
    • Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff
    • Laboratory of Ethnobotany, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    • University of Arizona, Tucson
    For further information see:
    • Beals, Ralph Leon, George W. Brainerd, and Watson Smith. Archaeological studies in northeast Arizona. A report on the archaeological work of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition. University of California publications in American archaeology and ethnology 44, no. 1. Berkeley: University of California Press,1945.
    • Christenson, Andrew L. The Last of the Great Expeditions: The Rainbow Bridge/Monument Valley Expedition 1933-38. Museum of Northern Arizona, Plateau 58, no. 4, 1987.
    • Crotty, Helen K. Honoring the Dead: Anasazi Ceramics from the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition. Museum of Cultural History, UCLA, Monograph Series Number 22. Los Angeles,Museum of Cultural History, 1983.
    • Hargrave, Lyndon Lane. Report on Archaeological Reconnaissance in the Rainbow Plateau Area of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, based upon fieldwork by the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition of 1933. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1935.