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Helmut de Terra Papers

Identifier: MSS-163-BC

Scope and Content

The Helmut de Terra collection consists mainly of field journals containing bibliographic references, field notes, geological and geographic sketches, and personal memos. The field notes are written in both English and German. Lecture notes, syllabi, and exams from De Terra's geology, geography, and anthropology courses at Yale are housed in the collection. Journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, essays, and drafts of scientific papers in English, German, and Spanish, are furnished as well. "Ancient Geography and Man in the Basin of Mexico" and "Changing Environment and Man in the Basin of Mexico" are present in completed and draft form. Manuscripts of de Terra's literary writing, including novel outlines, book chapters, short stories, and essays are also provided.

Added in 2009 is a CD, "Helmut de Terra; Mexican Encounters" produced and narrated by Niels de Terra, son of Helmut de Terra.

Material is in English, German and Spanish.


  • 1913-1952, 2008

Language of Materials

English German Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with for all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.


Helmut de Terra was born in 1900 in Guben, Germany to Margrit and Otto de Terra. He received his doctorate in geography from the University of Munich. After coming to the United States, he became an Assistant Professor at Yale University and later a Research Associate at the Carnegie Institution in Washington. He was also an Associate Professor at the New School for Social Research and Chief of Regional Research for the US Board of Geology, Department of Interior. His research interests included geography and pleistocene geology of high central Asia and southern Asia as well as the relationship between environment and human prehistory. De Terra conducted research expeditions to India, Burma, Java, Tibet, and Mexico, and he is known for the discovery of "Tepexpan Man," a prehistoric human skull from Mexico.


2 boxes (2 cu. ft.)


The Helmut de Terra papers consist mainly of de Terra's geological and geographic field records. Also included are manuscripts, journal articles, and teaching materials.

Separated Material

Photographs transerred to the Helmut de Terra Photograph Collection.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • De Terra, Helmut. Man and Mammoth in Mexico.London:Hutchinson, [1957].
Finding Aid of the Helmut de Terra Papers, 1913-1952, 2008
Processed by Susan Ruth
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 163 BC::Helmut de Terra Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss163bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131