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Desert Diary

Archaeology/Harriet Cosgrove


Near the end of her 94 years, the heiress to a hardware fortune stated, "My heart is in the work," and went on to declare that if she could only lop off 3 or 4 decades, she'd do it all again. That would mean sleeping in the rain in a canvas bedroll, using a crude pine-tree ladder to climb into caves, or even being lowered by a rope over cliff edges to explore ceremonial sites. It would mean beginning archaeology fieldwork for Harvard University at age 47.

Hattie and Burt Cosgrove had settled in the mining town of Silver City, in southwestern New Mexico, in 1907 and discovered that the abundant treasures of the Mimbres ruins were fascinating but also disturbing because of the destruction of sites and thus the loss of information. The Cosgroves searched out professionals in the young discipline of Southwestern archaeology, and they became so adept that they were hired by Harvard University to lead the Peabody Museum's Mimbres Valley Expedition.

Hattie stayed at the job for 24 years and was one of the first women to be employed professionally in archaeology.
pen and ink


Contributor: Florence E. Schwein, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

In her wedding dress.   Typing notes.

Clicking on the thumbnails will take you to full sized pictures. Left: In her wedding dress. Right: Typing notes. Photographs courtesy of Silver City Museum.



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