Guide to the Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans papers
NAA.2013-10

Summary
Collection ID:
NAA.2013-10
Creators:
Evans, Clifford, 1920-1981
Meggers, Betty Jane
Dates:
1893-2012
Languages:
Multiple languages
Collection is in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Physical Description:
129 linear feet
Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
The Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans Papers document their research and professional activities from 1946-2012 and primarily deal with their archaeological and anthropological research in South America. Their work at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and their frequent collaboration with other researchers and professional organizations is also represented. In addition, this collection contains detailed records on South American research conducted by the Smithsonian Institution from the 1950s through the 2010s. The collection consists of research and project files, raw data and analysis, graphs and illustrations, photographs, correspondence, maps and charts, and administrative files.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans papers document their research and professional activities from 1946-2012 and primarily deal with their archaeological and anthropological research in South America. There is also significant material detailing research conducted in South America by the National Museum of Natural History (particularly the Department of Anthropology). Material documenting their publication and collaboration efforts with researchers and other colleagues is represented as well. There is also limited material related to Meggers and Evans time in graduate school at Columbia University and their brief careers before starting at the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1950s. The collection consists of research and project files, raw data and analysis, graphs and illustrations, photographs, correspondence, maps and charts, and administrative files.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged in 12 series: Series 1. Personal, 1893-2012, undated; Series 2. Writings, 1944-2011, undated; Series 3. Research, 1930-2011, undated; Series 4. Correspondence, 1922-2012; Series 5. Conferences and Seminars, 1949-2010, undated; Series 6. Museum and Institute Subject Files, 1973-2011, undated; Series 7. Smithsonian Institution Amazon Ecosystem Program, 1962-2008, undated. Series 8. National Program of Archeological Research in Brazil, 1961-1989, undated; Series 9. Paleoindian Research: Paleoclimatology and Paleofauna Programs, 1960-1992, undated; Series 10. Latin American Archaeology Fund, 1971-1991, undated; Series 11. Photographs, 1937-2008, undated; Series 12. Maps and Charts, 1957- circa 2009, undated.

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Clifford Evans Chronology
1920
Born in Dallas, Texas.
1941
Bachelors degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California.
1946
Married Betty Meggers.
1948-1949
Field research: Lower Amazon archaelogical expedition to Marajo, Mexiana, Caviana, and Territory of Ampa, Brazil. With Betty Meggers.
1950
Ph.D., Columbia University.
1950-1951
Instructor, Anthropology, University of Virginia.
1951-1962
Associate Curator, Smithsonian Department of Anthropology.
1952-1953
Field research: Archaelogical and ethnographic investigations in British Guiana. With Betty Meggers.
1954
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1956
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations along the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador. With Betty Meggers.
1957
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1958
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1961
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Betty Meggers and Emilio Estrada.
1962-1964
Curator of the Division of Archaeology.
1963
Field research: Archeological investigations of megalithic structures on Nan Madol, Ponape, Caroline Islands. With Betty Meggers.
1964-1970, 1975-1981
Supervising Curator of the Department of Anthropological Research.
1965-1970
Co-principal investigator with Betty Meggers of PRONAPA.
1966
Field research: Archeological survey on Dominica. With Clifford Evans.
1968-1975
Co-principal investigator with Betty Meggers of the Proyecto Andino de Estudios Arqueologicos.
1970-1975
Chairman of the Department of Anthropology.
1971
Creates the Latin American Archaeology Fund with Betty Meggers.
1972
Creates the Paleo-Indian, Paleoecology, and Paleoenvironmental Research Program.
1974
Creates the Amazon Ecosystems Research Program.
1975-1980
Co-principal investigator with Betty Meggers of PRONAPABA.
1976
Field research: Paleoindian and Archaic sites and museum collections in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. With Betty Meggers and Dennis Stanford.
1981
Dies in Washington, D.C.
Betty Meggers Chronology
1921
Born December 5 in Washington, D.C.
1943
A.B. in anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
1944
M.A., University of Michigan
1948-1949
Field research: Lower Amazon archaelogical expedition to Marajo, Mexiana, Caviana, and Territory of Ampa, Brazil. With Clifford Evans.
1950-1951
Instructor, Anthropology, American University
1952
Ph.D., Columbia University
1952-1953
Field research: Archaelogical and ethnographic investigations in British Guiana. With Clifford Evans.
1954
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1954-2012
Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, national Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
1956
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations along the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador. With Clifford Evans.
1957
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1958
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1961
Field research: Archaelogical survey and excavations on coastal Ecuador. With Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada.
1963
Field research: Archeological investigations of megalithic structures on Nan Madol, Ponape, Caroline Islands. With Clifford Evans.
1965-1970
Co-principal investigator with Clifford Evans of PRONAPA.
1966
Field research: Archeological survey on Dominica. With Clifford Evans.
1968-1975
Co-principal investigator with Clifford Evans of the Proyecto Andino de Estudios Arqueologicos.
1975-1980
Co-principal investigator with Clifford Evans of PRONAPABA.
1976
Field research: Paleoindian and Archaic sites and museum collections in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. With Clifford Evans and Dennis Stanford.
1976-1996
Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society
1982-1985
Consultant, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem, Brazil
2012
Dies in Washington, D.C.
Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans were anthropologists specializing in the archeology of lowland South America. Their combined careers at the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology totaled over 100 years. Evans was born in 1920 in Texas. He received his bachelor's degree in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Southern California in 1941. Following his service as a bombardier during World War II, he enrolled in the anthropology doctoral program at Columbia University where he met Meggers, a fellow student in the department. Meggers was born in 1921 in Washington, D.C., and was the daughter of well-known archaeologist William Frederick Meggers. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelors degree in anthropology in 1943 and from the University of Michigan with a masters in anthropology in 1944 before being admitted to Columbia.
Meggers and Evans did their dissertation research together in South America— Meggers worked on the island of Marajo at the mouth of the Amazon River while Evans did archaeological research in the Amapa territory of Brazil. The two were married on September 13, 1946.
After Evans received his Ph.D. in 1950, he was hired by the Smithsonian Institution as an associate curator in the Department of Anthropology in 1951. After graduating in 1952, Meggers worked as an anthropology instructor at American University for one year before being hired as a research associate in the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology in 1954.
Evans was named Curator of the Division of Archaeology in 1962, and Supervising Curator of the newly created Office of Anthropological Research in 1964. Under his leadership, standardized operating procedures were created that centralized accessioning, cataloging, storing, and lending of objects. This freed curators from many complicated and routine activities. In 1970, Evans was appointed the Chairman of Anthropology for a five year term, where he initiated many large-scale research programs with Meggers that continued to operate many years after his chairmanship ended.
The first program that Evans and Meggers created was the "Paleo-Indian, Paleoecology, and Paleoenvironmental Research Program" in 1972, which was designed to study prehistoric peoples in the Western Hemisphere. The second program, implemented in 1974 was the "Amazon Ecosystems Research Program," which organized Brazilian scientists and Smithsonian staff members interested in environmental studies of the Amazon region.
Meggers and Evans conducted much of their field work together, which resulted in hundreds of articles, essays, presentations, and books. The majority of their work was done in the Amazon and Andean regions of South America, particularly Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Aside from these publications, they were also able to collect many archaeological specimens that are still part of the Smithsonian's holdings.
The conclusions that Meggers and Evans drew from their research and field work, while ground-breaking, were often controversial. In the early 1960s local businessman and amateur archaeologist Emilio Estrada excavated pottery from the Valdivia area in Ecuador and shared his results with Meggers and Evans. After finding significant similarities between Valdivian artifacts and those from Japan's ancient Jomon culture, they theorized that there was transpacific contact between Japan and South America around the beginning of the third millennium B.C. Their theory remains controversial.
Meggers and Evans also argued that despite the rich forests of the Amazon region, the river basin's thin, poor soil could not hold enough nutrients to sustain intensive agriculture. As a result, they argued, large and complex societies could not have existed in the Amazon River basin as other archaeologists and anthropologists have suggested.
After finishing his tenure as chairman of the Department of Anthropology, Clifford Evans died in 1981 of a heart attack at the age of 60. Following his death, Meggers continued in her position as research associate in the Department of Anthropology for another 40 years. Though she did not conduct additional fieldwork after her husband's death, Meggers wrote prolifically and was heavily involved in analyzing field work data and collaborating with colleagues working throughout South America. She made it possible for many researchers to study and conduct research at the National Museum of Natural History, and presented in many conferences and seminars locally and internationally. In addition, Meggers advocated on the behalf of colleagues to the National Geographic Society and other organizations to procure funding for archaeological and anthropological expeditions all over the world. Betty Meggers died in 2012 at the age of 90.

Administration
Processing Information note
The collection arrived at the National Anthropological Archives in 2013 after being stored in Meggers' office at the National Museum of Natural History since her death in 2012. Where present, original folder titles have been retained. All others were supplied by the archivist.
Processed and encoded by Tyler Stump and Adam Fielding, 2015
Separated Materials note
2 rolls of 16mm film, 22 audio cassettes, and 1 VHS of South and Central American research were transferred to the Human Studies Film Archives in 2015.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Tyler Stump and Adam Fielding
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution’s Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by the estate of Betty J. Meggers in 2013.

Bibliography
Bibliography
1952
Cultural Stratigraphy in the Viru Valley, Northern Peru: The Formative and Florescent Epochs
. New York: Columbia University Press.
1955
A Ceramic Study of Virginia Archaeology
. Washington: United States G.P.O.
1957
Archaeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon
. Washington: United States G.P.O.
1959
Cultura Valdivia
. Guayaquil, Ecuador: Editorial Vida.
1960
Archaeological Investigations in British Guiana
. Washington: United States G.P.O.
1964
The Jambali Culture of South Coastal Ecuador
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1963
Aboriginal Cultural Development in Latin America: An Interpretive Review
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1965
Guia Para Prospecção Arqueológica No Brasil
. Belem, Brasil: Museau Goeldi.
1965
Early Formative Period of Costal Ecuador: The Valdivia and Machalilla Phases
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1966
Ecuador
. New York: Praeger.
1968
Archaeological Investigations on the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1971
Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise
. Chicago: Aldine.
1976
Traditional Pottery Techniques of Pakistan: Field and Laboratory Studies
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1972
Prehistoric America
. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.
1977
Estudios Arqueológicos : Antillas y Tierras Bajas de Sudamérica, Ecuador
. Quito, Ecuador: Centro de Publicaciones, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador.
1986
Andean Archaeology: Papers in Memory of Clifford Evans
. Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles University Press.
1973
Tropical Forest Ecosystems in Africa and South America; A Comparitive Review
. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1992
Prehistoria Sudamericana : Nuevas Perspectivas : Ponencias Presentadas al Segundo Simposio Conmemorando el Quinto Centenario
. Washington: Taraxacum.
1996
Personalidades y Dilemas en la Arqueología Ecuatoriana
. Quito, Ecuador: Ediciones Abya-Yala.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use note
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Preferred Citation note
Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Access note
The Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans papers are open for research.
Personal correspondence, however, is RESTRICTED until 2026.

Related Archival Materials note
There are about 25 slide cases, each containing about 200 to 300 kodachrome slides, that are currently stored at the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. These were created in the late 1940s and early 1950s and contain images of field work and other trips to South American locations such as Peru, British Guiana, the Peru Highlands, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Hondouras, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Mexico. Contact repository for more information.

Other Finding Aids note
Other Finding Aids note
See also: Clifford Evans Papers, 1946-1975 and Records of the Department of Anthropology, 1887-1980.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Amazonia Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Indian--South America Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archaeology Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archaeology--Ecuador Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archaeology--Ponape, Nan Matol Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archeology--British Guiana Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archeology--Meso-America Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field notes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indians of South America--Brazil Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Names, place--geographic--South America Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paleo-Indians--North America Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paleoindian Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peru--archeology Geographical Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Venezuela--archeology Geographical Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland , 20746
Phone: 301.238.1300
naa@si.edu