Paul S Martin Collection


The Field Museum has an extensive collection of valuable archaeological materials from the southwestern United States, most often referred to as the "Paul S. Martin Collection." These materials derive from work conducted between 1930 and the early 1970s, when Paul Martin was involved in single-season and multi-season excavations at 69 sites; six major surveys were also undertaken during this period. Research topics addressed by Martin's fieldwork include the origins of the Mogollon culture, early horticultural development in the American Southwest, the nature of human social relationships within and among communities in the prehistoric southwest, the nature of Chacoan outliers, and others.

Paul Sidney Martin was employed by the Field Museum of Natural History from 1929 until his death in 1974. For nearly thirty years, (1935-1964) he served as Chief Curator in the Department of Anthropology, and in many ways his influence and contributions are still felt more than two decades after his retirement.

Martin was born in Chicago on November 20, 1899, and stayed in his hometown to earn his Bachelor's Degree in English and anthropology at the University of Chicago in 1923. The faculty of that institution accepted his Ph.D. dissertation, entitled "Origins and History of the Kiva in the Southwest," in 1929.

Martin's inaugural fieldwork for the Museum focused on Lowry Ruin, a 12th Century pueblo consisting of approximately 50 rooms in three stories, with an associated Great Kiva, located in southwestern Colorado. Martin worked at Lowry Ruin and other sites in the area for a total of seven seasons between 1930 and 1938. In general, the 1930s bore witness to a number of significant archaeological discoveries in the American Southwest, including the identification and delineation of the prehistoric Mogollon and Hohokam cultures south of the Colorado Plateau. Martin was not to miss these important new research arenas, and in 1939 moved his field operation to Reserve, New Mexico, to investigate the major characteristics of the Mogollon Culture.

Image above: Paul Martin's excavation crew at work at a cave site in New Mexico, c.1950. © The Field Museum, A93205, Photographer W.Tod Egan.