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R. Gordon Vivian Photograph Collection

Identifier: Coll 0029

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents:

Photographs primarily taken by Gordon Vivian, assembled, organized, and inventoried into categories by his son, Gwinn Vivian. Most of Gwinn Vivian's categories have been retained as series: Series 001: Prehistoric Sites; Series 002: People; Series 003: Artifacts; Series 004: Environment; Series 005: Historic and Recent Structures; Series 006: Reiter/Hewett/Mindeleff photos.

Collection includes prints, interpositive negatives, and negatives. Not all negatives have associated prints and vice versa.

Many of the negatives were nitrate negatives. These were reformatted by the NPS in 2002. We now have a safety negative and an interpositive negative in place of each of the original nitrates. The nitrate negatives were transferred to WACC for permanent storage or disposal.

Gwinn Vivian created a comprehensive inventory of all of the photographs and negatives before donating them to Chaco Culture National Historical Park in 1989.Gwinn's inventory included the following item level information when available: sub-category, number of prints and negatives, the photographer, date, size and a detailed description of the photograph. There were some materials listed on Gwinn's inventory of the Unidentified photographs that were not received in the Chaco Archive (see inventory for notes). This collection was first received at the park in 1989 but not accessioned into the museum collection until 1996. It may be possible that these materials were removed while at the park and not forwarded to the museum collection for storage.


  • 1881-1966 (bulk dates: 1928-1964)


Biographical / Historical


Richard Gordon Vivian was born in Laurium, Michigan on August 27, 1908. In 1918, his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1927, he began school at the University of New Mexico and received a B.A. in archeology. In 1929, he became a student in the first field school UNM held at Chaco Canyon, and served as Dr. Edgar L. Hewett's field assistant. He earned his master's degree in 1932, and excavated Casa Rinconada during 1931, 1932 and 1936 for the School of American Research. He married Myrtle Perce in Santa Fe on November 19, 1934. They had two daughters and a son, Gwinn. Gwinn has followed in his father's footsteps as an archeologist and has focused his research on Chaco Canyon. In 1937, Gordon became supervisor of the NPS Indian CCC mobile unit which was established to provide ruins stabilization for parks in the southwest region from 1947-1958. The unit was stationed in Chaco Canyon National Monument which resulted in extensive archeological excavation and research work at the park. In 1958, Vivian became supervisory archeologist for the NPS Southwest Archeological Center at Globe, Arizona. Gordon died of leukemia on April 29, 1966 in Globe, Arizona. The Vivian family lived in Chaco during much of the time that Vivian was working on stabilization projects there. The photographs in this collection were taken during those years. Gordon's son, Gwinn, became an archeologist and conducted research at Chaco Canyon, including a survey of Chacra Mesa and continues to do research on water use and irrigation systems used by the Anasazi in Chaco Canyon. Gwinn is now retired but worked at the University of Arizona Museum in Tucson for many years. He has always maintained his connection to Chaco Canyon and the park and has donated documents and photographs to the park's museum collections, including these photographs and negatives. Publications and papers by Gordon Vivian include: Casa Rinconada Excavation report; Wall Preservation of Pueblo Bonito; Manual for Ruins Stabilization; The Three-C Site, an Early Pueblo II Ruin in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; The Great Kivas of Chaco Canyon; The Hubbard Site and other Tri-Wall Structures in New Mexico and Colorado; and the Tri-Walled Structure at Pueblo del Arroyo, Chaco Canyon National Monument.


1596 items

Language of Materials




Gwinn Vivian created a comprehensive inventory of all of the photographs and negatives before donating them to Chaco Culture National Historical Park in 1989. He divided them into the following categories: Prehistoric Sites, People, Artifacts, Environment, Historic & Recent Sites/Structures and Unidentified. These categories were made into 6 series (Unidentified was renamed Paul Reiter/Hewett/Mindeleff Photos). Within these series, there are subcategories (possibly created by Gwinn?) containing one or more related images. (Example: Subcategory PS-3 represents 15 images of Pueblo Bonito within the Prehistoric Sites series.) Series 6 of this collection includes photos/negatives by Mindeleff, Pepper & Wetherill - possibly part of a donation from McNitt, Paul Reiter and the Museum of New Mexico and Hewett.

Park negative numbers were assigned for tracking and filing purposes and cross-referenced to the inventory. Photographs with no negatives were lot cataloged in subcategories by subject, particularly specific sites. Photographs, negatives, and interpositive negatives (IPs) are arranged by Gwinn's subcategory number (Example: A-1, A-2, A-3), then negative number order.

[The interpositives for this collection were previously part of a larger Interpositive Collection but were pulled and added to Collection 29 in 2011. Negatives were removed from the collection and placed into cold storage.]


Provenance: Donated by R. GWINN VIVIAN
Finding Aid for R. Gordon Vivian Photograph Collection
Coll 0029
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, National Park Service
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the NPS Chaco Culture National Historical Park Repository

Chaco Culture NHP & Aztec Ruins NM Museum & Archives Program
Hibben Center Rm 307 - MSC01 1050
450 University Blvd NE
Albuquerque NM 87106 USA