Skip to main content

Marietta Wetherill Drawings and Letter

Identifier: MSS-43-BC

Scope and Content

This collection consists of 1 scrapbook containing pencil drawings of 16 Navajo clan masks which were drawn by Marietta Wetherill between 1886 and 1889. The scrapbook also includes color drawings of the 16 clan masks, plus an additional color drawing, which were done by Marietta at an unknown, later date. There is also a list of the 16 clans and a 2 page documentary about the Navajo Crying God or Dine Ya Be Chi mask, both handwritten and typed. Finally, there is a letter to Mabel Wright from Gertrude Hill, Chief Librarian at the Palace of the Governors, discussing the original Navajo clans and including bibliographical sources for further information.


  • 1886-1900s (bulk 1886-1889)


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

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

Biographical Information

Marietta Palmer Wetherill was born on October 5, 1876, in Serena, Illinois. As a child and throughout her adult life, Marietta was interested in music, the outdoors, and in studying the Indians. The Palmers were an adventure seeking family. In the mid 1880's, Marietta's family took their first trip to the Southwest, visiting and playing music at most of the Rio Grande Pueblos. In 1895, the Palmers made their third trip to the Southwest, this time to visit the Mesa Verde ruins. During this trip, Marietta and her family met the Wetherills.

Richard Wetherill, one of the men credited with "re-discovering" the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, led the Palmers on a trip to see the Mesa Verde ruins. During this expedition, Marietta's father, Sidney Palmer and Richard Wetherill planned a winter trip to explore Chaco Canyon. Richard proposed to Marietta during the Chaco Canyon trip, and in December of 1896 the two were married.

In 1897, Richard and Marietta Wetherill moved to Chaco Canyon, where Richard led excavations. They set up a trading post at Pueblo Bonito, and employed, interacted with, and lived among the Navajo. In 1908, Marietta was adopted into the Chee clan of the Navajo tribe. Soon after Richard was murdered in Chaco Canyon in 1910, Marietta moved to the mountains near Cuba with her children. Eventually, Marietta moved to the outskirts of Albuquerque where she lived until her death in 1954. Marietta's ashes were buried in Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon behind Richard's grave, as per her request.


1 box (.30 cu. ft.)

Related Archival Material

Pioneer's Foundation Oral History Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Oral history interview with Richard Wetherill II Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Mary C. Wheelwright Autobiography and Related Materials. Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Secondary Sources

  • Gabriel, Kathryn. Marietta Wetherill: Reflections on Life with the Navajos in Chaco Cayon. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books, 1992.
  • Niederman, Sharon. A Quilt of Words: Womens Diaries, Letters & Original Accounts of Life in the Southwest, 1860-1960. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books, 1988.
Finding Aid of the Marietta Wetherill Drawings and Letter, 1886-[19--] (bulk 1886-1889)
Processed by CSWR staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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 43 BC::Marietta Wetherill Drawings and Letter)//EN" "nmu1mss43bc.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