Adventures in Mayaland

On one 10-month trip to Mexico and Central America, they saw 70 Maya sites and put 20,000 miles on their Volkswagen bus. That figure doesn’t count the mileage they covered in trucks, Jeeps, small planes, and on foot. They encountered obstacles ranging from rocky roads to poisonous snakes to bureaucracy.

Who are these intrepid adventurers? George and Gerrie Andrews—and the Alexander Architectural Archive houses their papers. In their 40+ years of work documenting Maya architecture, the Andrews amassed about 50 linear feet in manuscript material, plus thousands upon thousands of photographic prints, slides, negatives, and drawings.

Kabah with Gerrie
One of the structures of Kabah, a Puuc region site in the Yucátan. See Gerrie (near the portal) for a sense of scale.

To make those records more accessible to researchers, I am working on arranging and describing these materials. So far I’ve arranged a series of Faculty and Professional Records, more than half of which consists of George’s correspondence with his architecture and archaeology colleagues. I also have started work on grouping his slides together by site—so far I’m up to about 6,500! (I also have learned that the Andrews visited more than 30 sites whose names begin with “X”—Xelha, Xlabpak, Xpuhil, etc.—which kind of boggles my English-oriented mind.) An enhanced finding aid to the George F. and Geraldine D. Andrews papers is part of my goal for this project.

But that won’t be all. In addition to working at the archive, I’m doing my capstone project to finish my master’s in information studies. To that end, I also am creating an online exhibition about the Andrews papers, hoping to draw attention to these important records and attract more researchers. I’m keeping up a webpage about the project, Building Mayaland, and invite anyone interested in the archival process to check it out.

By Amanda Keys, processing assistant in the Alexander Architectural Archive and School of Information student focusing on archival enterprise and special collections

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