Ann Axtell Morris painting in an archaeological site
Ann Axtell Morris painting in an archaeological site.

Quick Facts

Significance:
Archaeologist in the American Southwest and Mesoamerica
Place of Birth:
Omaha, Nebraska
Date of Birth:
February 9, 1900
Date of Death:
1945

Ann Axtell, born February 9, 1900, was a prominent archaeologist, artist, and author.  After graduating from Smith College, Ann met Earl Halstead Morris and they got married in 1923.  During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Ann and Earl worked together during extensive multi-year excavations throughout the American Southwest and in Mexico, including 5 seasons at Chichen Itza, Yucatan in partnership with the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

 

Ann spent much of her time recording and painting architecture, petroglyphs and pictographs, landscapes, and expedition work.  Many of her recording methods are still in use today by modern archaeologists, as they provide context within the sites history and represent the importance of color at a time when archaeologists were using black and white photography.

 

Along with her artwork, Ann wrote 2 books about her experiences as an archaeologist and the significance of her findings.  “Digging the Yucatan”, and “Digging in the Southwest” show her extensive knowledge and skill as an archaeologist and provide us a glimpse into the vibrant world of Ann Axtell Morris.

 

Together, Ann and Earl Morris had two daughters, Elizabeth Ann and Sarah Lane.  Elizabeth studied Anthropology at the University of Arizona, and following in her parents footsteps, became an Archaeologist and Professor at Colorado State University.

 

For further information about Ann Axtell Morris and the work of other women in the field of federal archaeology, check out “Implementing the Antiquities Act: A Survey of Archaeological Permits 1906-1935.” https://www.nps.gov/archeology/pubs/studies/study02C.htm

 


Sources:

  1. Florence C. Lister and Robert H. Lister (1993), Earl Morris & Southwest Archaeology.

  2. Aaron Theis (2013). Ann Axtell Morris: Art in Archaeology of the Southwest and Mesoamerica. Archaeological Institute of America, <<https://www.archaeological.org/events/10691>>

  3. Robert F. Burgh.  Earl Halstead Morris, 1889-1956.  American Anthropologist, Vol. 59, Iss. 3, <<http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1957.59.3.02a00100/pdf>>

Last updated: July 23, 2018