Skip to main content

Peter T. Furst Photograph Collection

Identifier: PICT-2017-010

Scope and Content

Collection includes around 78,000 35mm slides and a small number of film negatives photographed by Furst. There are also commercially purchased slides and some taken by a few other photographers, including his wife, Dee Furst. Furst used this collection for his teaching and research. The image topics include: pre-Hispanic and colonial era Latin American art and architecture; pre-Columbian, colonial, modern, and contemporary Native American ceremonial, tourist, and functional art objects, fine art, and cultural photographs; Asian and Siberian art and cultural artifacts; and photographs of flora and fauna specimens. The collection includes Furst's visits to many pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, as well as his trips to Europe. Many of the photographs are from museum collections, as well as galleries and private collections, with a significant number of images from the pre-Columbian expert David Stuart's gallery collections in Los Angeles.

Collection was received as binders of slides labeled by Furst into groups believed to correspond to lecture and research groupings. Furst's binder arrangement is preserved in folders, with each folder or folder group corresponding to one of the original binders. Slide order within binders/folders has generally been preserved; but binders have been alphabetized by topic. Collection was first received by the Bunting Visual Resources Library at the University of New Mexico and was later transferred to the Center for Southwest Research in 2016 and was processed in 2019. Specific identifying information is recorded in "general" notes with the archival object file records. A 2023 addition is comprised of an unpublished, incomplete book project returned by a publisher. The proposed book would have been titled "Shamanism and Arts of Ecstasy" and proposal materials include slides, prints, correspondence and an incomplete manuscript.


  • 1959-2005

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


Peter T. Furst (1922-2015) was a cultural anthropologist, college professor, and researcher born in Cologne, Germany. He came to America during WWII, and worked as a correspondent for the Stars and Stripes newspaper. After the war, Furst returned to California, where he filmed a television series for ABC, which won him the Peabody Award in 1959. He received his PhD in anthropology in 1966, and became a Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Los Angeles shortly thereafter.

He then worked as a Director of the UCLA Center for Latin American Studies, eventually leaving Los Angeles to join the Anthropology Department at State University of New York, Albany. He retired in 1987, becoming a Professor Emeritus and research associate at the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. In 1999, Furst moved to Santa Fe, NM to work as a research associate at state Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Furst was the author of many books, publishing primarily on indigenous Mesoamerican history, art, and culture, as well as shamanistic cultural practices and Native North American art. His dissertation, "Shaft Tombs, Shell Trumpets, and Shamanism," remains an important study on pre-Hispanic West Mexican history, art, and culture. Also, his research and work with the Huichol people in Northwest Mexico resulted in a new artistic medium for the culture, known as Huichol yarn painting.


78,000 items (31 boxes) : 78,000 film transparencies; 9 color prints ; 35 mm slides and negatives


Peter T. Furst (1922-2015), a cultural anthropologist, college professor, and researcher, photographed and collected images of pre-Columbian and colonial Latin American, Native American, and Asian cultures and objects, as well as flora and fauna specimens. Furst used these images for his teaching and research. Collection also includes photographs by his wife, and some commercially produced slides.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number

Collection Available Online

A small selection of the Peter T. Furst Photograph Collection is available in digital format from New Mexico Digital Collections.

Processing Information

Collection is processed, including a 2023 addition of photographic and manuscript materials.
Finding Aid of the Peter T. Furst Photograph Collection, 1959-2005
Edited Full Draft
CSWR staff
© 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.
  • 9/21/2021: RMOA import review complete

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