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National Park Service Chaco Project Records

Identifier: Coll 0002

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents:

This collection contains the records pertaining to 29SJ and 29MC sites survey, excavation, data analyses, and research publications conducted by the National Park Service Chaco Project staff at the Chaco Center, a research unit under the direction of the Southwest Regional Office. The records are organized into series primarily by site excavation or survey project. Other series include special studies, images, computer data, administrative files, and the publication process. Of note, Pueblo Bonito was not part of the Chaco Project's excavation work, although the Bonito ovens were analyzed as part of 29SJ 1175.The collection documents the initial site survey which set the groundwork for site excavations, 29 in total are represented in this collection. Each excavation's records included field notes, maps, reports, and images. Series 6 and series 15 are mentioned in this collection but were physically and intellectually arranged into collections 0007 and 0014, respectively. Series directly related to special studies, images, and publications include stone circles, shrines survey, history of the Navajo, outliers survey, images of Chaco objects held by other national institutions; and numerous reports published as Chaco Center Reports and Chaco Canyon Studies. Additionally, the Chaco project generated varied maps which were microfiched by the NPS Denver Services Center.The information gathered by the Chaco Center staff was presented for research via the development, population, and use of Chaco 29SJ and 29MC individual, multiple, and all sites excavation computerized data. The resulting printouts consist of inventories, lists, breakdowns, datasets, cross-tabulations, graphs, tables, and analyses by a variety of variables and attributes on topics such as ceramics, lithics, fauna, pollen, vegetation, tree rings, minerals, ornaments, human remains, Bonito Phase room morphology, and time-space analysis.The collection also offers insight into the archeologists' research files and administrative work associated with field work, data processing, personnel supervision, and publications. The files consist of material created and collected by archaeologists William Gillespie, Stephen Lekson, Peter McKenna and Thomas Windes during and after the Chaco Project surveys and


  • 1823-2005 (bulk dates: 1970-1985)


Biographical / Historical


The Chaco Project had its genesis in a 1969 School of American Research seminar in Santa Fe organized by John M. Corbett. However, Corbett, formerly Chief Archeologist for the NPS, had developed the idea of a long-term multi- disciplinary research program in Chaco Canyon years earlier. Corbett had worked in Chaco for Edgar Lee Hewett in the 1930s, and his interest in Chaco continued throughout his professional career. The SAR seminar convened anthropologists and environmentalists to evaluate the status of Chaco prehistory, identify research needs, and suggest a structure for a research program. At the same time, NPS archaeologists prepared a prospectus for Chaco studies to meet NPS management and interpretive needs.As a result of the seminar and the prospectus, it was decided that a joint venture between the NPS and the University of New Mexico was the best structure for a long-term research program. In 1971, the Chaco Center, an official NPS unit headquartered at UNM, was established, under the direction of the NPS Southwest Regional Office. Federal funds supported personnel; UNM provided space. Senior NPS personnel were given joint appointments in the UNM Department of Anthropology as part-time faculty. Temporary employees, many of them students, were hired for field and lab work.During the 1970s, the Chaco Project conducted two surveys (transect and inventory) and excavated or tested over 30 archaeological sites, from the Archaic through the Navajo occupation of Chaco Canyon. Beginning in the 1970s, a series of Chaco Canyon reports were published. The publication work continues; by 2007 the last four volumes in the series should be published, bringing the total number of Chaco Project publications to 23. The excavation strategy outlined in the prospectus for the Chaco Project commenced with the excavation of an Archaic site and culminated in the excavation of a PIII site. The data assembled during the survey provided a surface identification for each of these sites in addition to all of those falling within these two cultural periods. During the inventory survey, 2,200 sites were located and recorded and included among them were pueblos, and sherd scatters, field houses, isolated hearths and storage structures, kivas, pueblitos and hogans.In 1985 the Chaco Center was officially disbanded. However two NPS archaeologists have worked on producing the reports for the last 20 years. The publication files for all the reports are part of this collection.Collections generated by the Chaco Project were accessioned as they were received, and most are site-related or project-related (i.e., David Brugge's History of the Chaco Navajos collection or the Stone Circles and Shrines study). Accession 618 contains Chaco Project records that were not associated with a specific site or project. When the records were produced, they were often housed according to format. As a result, map, manuscript, and slide collections were assembled without regard to specific accessions or collections. The maps and manuscripts were cataloged in the 1990s as individual catalog records; the slides were lot cataloged by slide album, but with item level data in the archive module of ANCS. Manuscripts and/or reports relating to specific sites have been rehoused with the records for that site. The maps remain housed in map cases, by site number. The catalog records for these items are cross-referenced in the series descriptions of this collection. As a result, there are multiple accession and catalog numbers for the items in this collection.


193.49 Linear Feet

Language of Materials




Organization consists of 43 series:


Provenance: National Park Service Chaco Center (CHCE)
Finding Aid for National Park Service Chaco Project Records
Coll 0002
Anna V. Uremovich, 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