- Collection ID:
Holstein, Otto, 1883-1934
- Physical Description:
Photographic prints and copy negatives made by Major Otto Holstein in and around the ruins of Chan Chan, Peru between 1925 and 1926. Some of these photographs were later used by Holstein to illustrate his article publication "Chan-Chan: Capital of the Great Chimu" in the American Geographical Society's publication Geographical Review.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection includes photographic prints and copy negatives made and collected by Major Otto Holstein of sites around Trujillo, Peru between 1925 and 1926. The photographs are predominantly of the ruins of Chan Chan and surrounding Chimu and Moche archaeological sites. Series 1: Before the 1925 rains, were taken previous to the torrential rains of March 1925 when much erosion occurred. It is unclear whether or not these photographs were shot by Holstein. Series 2: Photographs Illustrating "Chan-Chan: Capital of the Great Chimu," includes 34 photographic prints that were used in the American Geographical Society's 1927 publication. Series 3: General Chan Chan Photographs, 1925-1926, includes 77 photographic prints made in and around Chan Chan. These include aerial shots of Trujillo, general views of Chan Chan, views of the Huaca of the Sun and Moon, Huaca de Misa, Huaca Esperanza and Huaca Toledo. There are also several photographs that were shot in Cuzco. Also included are object photographs, many of them likely taken of Peruvian objects (Chimu and Moche) that were a part of the American Museum of Natural History collection.
The majority of the photographs in this collection are in Series 4: Study of Chan Chan, 1926, which includes 277 photographic prints and 67 copy negatives. These were made by Holstein during a 1926 study of Chan Chan, likely in the fall of that year. It is likely this study was done in conjunction with Dr. Julio C. Tello, Director of the Peruvian Archaeological Museum. These photographs are accompanied by a detailed catalog, written in 1927, which describe the various groups and sites photographed during the study. In addition to photographs at Chan Chan there are also photographs of nearby sites in Huanchaco, El Mampuesto, Pesqueda and at the Huacas of the Sun and Moon.
Arranged into four series based on how they arrived at the Museum of the American Indian and were cataloged. Series 1: Before the 1925 rains, circa 1925; Series 2: Photographs Illustrating "Chan-Chan: Capital of the Great Chimu," 1925-1926; Series 3: General Chan Chan Photographs, 1925-1926; Series 4: Study of Chan Chan, 1926.
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Otto Holstein was born in 1883 in Lexington, Kentucky. He later joined the United States Army where he attained the rank of Major and served in the Philippines, China, and Mexico, as well as taking part in World War I. Between 1922 and 1927 Holstein worked for the Northern Peru Mining and Smelting Company and was living in Trujillo, Peru in 1925 during a season of torrential rains which caused many archaeological materials at nearby pre-Incan sites, such as Chan Chan, to become unearthed. Holstein collected and sold many of these items both to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation and the American Museum of Natural History. In October of 1926, Holstein formed the "Archaeological Society of Trujillo" and served as its first president. During this time, he worked with other anthropologists and archaeologists to make plans of Chan Chan and other nearby sites in Trujillo. In 1927, the Geographical Review, the publication for the American Geographical Society published his article "Chan-Chan: Capital of the Great Chimu." He also was a member with the Explorers Club. Holstein died in New York City in 1934.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gifts of Otto Holstein and the American Geographical Society arriving in five different accession lots between 1926 and 1927.
Processed by Rachel Menyuk, Processing Archivist, in 2019.
A catalog of the photographs and object lists from Holstein can be found in the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records (NMAI.AC.001), Box 297, Folder 24 and 25.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Conditions Governing Use
and NMAI Archive Center's Digital Image request
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Major Otto Holstein photographs from Chan Chan, Peru, Item Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
The Harvard Peabody Museum has a collection of Otto Holstein glass plate negatives from Chan Chan, Peru which appear to contain the same images.
National Museum of the American Indian
4220 Silver Hill Rd
Suitland, Maryland 20746-2863