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Yale Peruvian Expedition papers

Call Number: MS 664

Scope and Contents


Series I, ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS, contains papers relating to the organization of each expedition, selection and instruction of staff members, official and legal arrangements, reference material, supplies, and travel arrangements. Plans for the expeditions and press releases and reports describe the organization, goals, budget, and partial accomplishments of the three expeditions. Applications, staff contracts, instructions for staff, and staff suggestions provide information about various members of the expeditions, their specific assignments, and general operating procedures for the staff while in Peru. Official documents and legal papers include copies of agreements among Yale University, the Government of Peru, the National Geographic Society, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Official and legal correspondence includes letters from H. Clay Howard, U. S. Minister to Peru, and Arthur T. Hadley, president of Yale, concerning Yale's efforts to obtain a concession from the Peruvian government for the right to excavate Inca remains. Cabled news of the expedition and circular letters contain information about staff activities and the progress of the 1914-1915 expedition.

These materials are arranged chronologically by type. Staff contracts are in alphabetical order under each expedition's date.

Reference material in Series I includes: bibliography lists and notes; notes concerning place names in Peru; typed copies, extracts, and translations of the Spanish chronicles of Peru, particularly Antonio de la Clanacha,A Chronicle of the Order of Saint Augustine in Peru; published articles about Peru; and brochures, instructions and notes concerning photography, weather observations, equipment, and scientific instruments. Supply inventory lists for the expedition and timetables and brochures of steamship, railroad and telegraph companies complete the administrative records series.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, is arranged in two sections,General Correspondence and Select Correspondence. The Yale Peruvian ExpeditionGeneral Correspondence, arranged chronologically, includes incoming and outgoing letters concerning organization and funding of the expeditions, procurement of supplies, exchanges of scientific information, publication of findings, and other business of the expeditions.

The process of organizing and outfitting the expeditions involved solicitations: for private donations to the South American exploration fund, inquiries concerning legal and diplomatic arrangements, and requests for reduced prices or gifts of equipment. Companies with which the expedition staff had important business dealings included W. R. Grace and Company, Abercrombie and Fitch, Henry Green and Company, and Cesar Lomellini and Company, a banking and commercial firm in Peru. Government and political leaders with whom Bingham, as director of the expeditions, corresponded include: Charles D. Hilles, secretary to President Taft (1912); Huntington Wilson, assistant secretary of state (1912); Rudolph Forster, a member of the White House staff (1912); Henry Breckinridge, acting secretary of war (1914 Mar 26); U. S. Senator Charles E. Townsend of Michigan (1912 Apr 22); U. S. Representative William W. Wedemeyer of Michigan (1912 Apr 22); and W. C. Gorgas, United States surgeon general (1914 Apr 7). Copies of Bingham's letters to British ambassador James Bryce (1912, 1916) discuss South American exploration, although other letters from Bingham and all of Lord Bryce's letters are located in the Bingham Family Papers (see register for MS Group No. 81). Correspondence concerning diplomatic relations and agreements between Yale and the Peruvian government includes letters exchanged, 1913-1914, between Bingham and A. B. Leguia, President of Peru; F. A. Pezet, Peruvian minister to the United States; and Edwardo Higginson, consul general of Peru. Bingham assumed responsibility for supervising the education of Leguia's son at a school in Virginia, and his correspondence with Leguia continued until after the former president was forced to leave Peru and seek refuge in the United States.

Prominent scientists and South American scholars whose letters are contained in theGeneral Correspondenceinclude: Sir Clements Markham, of the Royal Geographic Society (1911-1913); Alberto A. Giesecke, president of the University of Cuzco (1913-1915); Alexander G. Ruthven, director of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (1912); Edward C. Pickering, of the Harvard College Observatory (1912-1913); Samuel Henshaw (1913) and Thomas Barbour (1913-1915), of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology; Charles C. Willoughby (1913-1914) and Frederic W. Putnam (1914), of Harvard's Peabody Museum; Pliny E. Goddard, curator of ethnology, and Frank M. Chapman, curator of ornithology, of the American Museum of Natural History (1916); Ales Hrdlicka, curator of physical anthropology (1913-1915), William H. Holmes, head curator of anthropology (1913), Harrison G. Dyar, custodian of lepidoptera (1913), Gerrit S. Miller, Jr., curator of mammals (1914), and Joseph N. Rose, research associate (1914), of the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution; Edward S. Dana, professor of Physics, Yale University (1914); and Charles Schuchert, curator of geology at Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History (1913).

Correspondence with expedition members concerns preparations, instructions, field activities in Peru, and publication of reports and articles. In 1913 and 1914, Bingham corresponded with Edward S. Harkness, Yale '97, concerning donations to the expedition fund. Correspondence with President Arthur T. Hadley of Yale includes Hadley's letters dated: 1912 Apr 25, May 7, Aug 21; 1913 Apr 15, Jun 10; 1914 Mar 11; 1915 Aug 5, Nov 4, Nov 22, Dec 4, Dec 7, Dec 16; 1916 Jan 27, Apr 14, Dec 8; n.d. There is also an undated note with enclosed poem from Walter Camp, Yale athletic director.

Select Correspondenceincludes correspondence between the expedition office and the three supporting organizations with which the expedition had extensive administrative dealings, Eastman Kodak Company, the National Geographic Society, and Yale University, Treasurer's Office. Bingham's correspondence concerning publication ofInca Land, and a small amount of correspondence of H. B. Ferris, donated with his manuscripts and articles concerning the expeditions of 1912 and 1914-1915, have been placed inSelect Correspondencebecause they are not part of the expedition's official file. Eastman Kodak contributed photographic equipment to the 1911 expedition but not to later expeditions. Bingham's correspondence with George Eastman and T. J. Craig (1911-1917) discusses proper use of cameras, film and equipment, and the results of experiments in using and developing film at various altitudes and climates in Peru. A large part of the correspondence consists of orders for enlargements and lists of prints to be mounted.

National Geographic Society correspondence, 1912-1917, provides information about the society's partnership with Yale in sponsoring the expeditions of 1912 and 1914-1915. Bingham's extensive correspondence with Gilbert H. Grosvenor, the society's director and editor, concerns selection of expedition personnel, progress reports on archaeological, geographical and osteological discoveries, and publication of articles by Bingham and other expedition members. Correspondence with the Yale University Treasurer's Office (1911-1917) deals largely with financial arrangements for the expeditions, including expenses for salaries, equipment and supplies. There are also many brief notes exchanged by Bingham and Yale treasurer George Parmly Day.

Correspondence, 1921-1925, concerning publication ofInca Land, Bingham's first full-length book about the Peruvian explorations, includes letters from Houghton-Mifflin concerning book format and advertising schemes, and letters thanking Bingham for copies and complimenting the book. orrespondence of Dr. H. B. Ferris of the Yale Medical School, who compiled physiological data collected by the 1912 and 1914-1915 expeditions and published the results of these findings, concerns his association with the work of these two expeditions. The letters are dated from 1912 to 1921.

Series III, JOURNALS AND NOTEBOOKS, contains daily records of activities for most members of the expeditions. The journals, which include both original manuscript volumes and typewritten copies of some journals, vary in length from one page to half a dozen volumes. These materials are arranged alphabetically by author under section headings for each of the three expeditions. Of special interest for the 1911 expedition are the journals of Hiram Bingham and Paul B. Lanius. For the 1912 expedition, the journals of Bingham, George F. Eaton, Ellwood C. Erdis, Osgood Hardy, and Joseph P. Little are the most detailed. Edwin L. Anderson, Bingham, Erdis, and Joseph J. Hasbrouck kept the most complete journals of the 1914-1915 expedition. One unidentified note-book describes pottery found in the caves at Machu Picchu.

Series IV, REPORTS AND ARTICLES, contains summaries of the expeditions' activities written by staff members and other scientific experts. Published articles from the 1911 expedition include: Isaiah Bowman, "A Burial Wall at Cuzco and Its Relation to the Question of a Pre-Inca Race"; William G. Erving, "Medical Report of the Yale Peruvian Expedition": and seven articles based on the expedition's findings, by Lawrence Bruner, Ralph V. Chamberlain, William H. Dall, Harrison G. Dyar, Alexander W. Evans, P. R. Myers, and Leonhard Stejneger. There are manuscript reports for 1911 by Kai Hendriksen and Casimir Watkins. Reports for the 1912 expedition include manuscripts by Paul Bestor, Albert H. Bumstead, Orator F. Cook, George F. Eaton, H. B. Ferris, Kenneth C. Heald, Joseph P. Little, and Luther T. Nelson. Published articles from 1912 include four articles on geology and geography by Herbert E. Gregory; Osgood Hardy, "Cuzco and Apurimac"; and articles based on the expedition's findings by Thomas Barbour and C. H. Mathewson. Also included in this series are three articles based on the Yale Dominican Expedition of 1913, by Harrison G. Dyar, A. N. Caudell and J. C. Crawford. Reports and manuscript articles describing the 1914-1915 expedition were written by Edwin L. Anderson, Albert H. Bumstead, Orator F. Cook and G. Bruce Gilbert, David E. Ford, Osgood Hardy, Joseph J. Hasbrouck, Edmund Heller, Clarence F. Maynard, and Gladys M. Wrigley. The only published article for the 1914-1915 expedition is H. B. Ferris, "Anthropological Studies on the Quichua and Machiganga Indians," including page proofs, manuscript draft, and research material.

Series V contains WRITINGS OF HIRAM BINGHAM, arranged chronologically from 1912 to 1948. Bingham's writings about Peru include reprints of published articles, manuscripts of articles and speeches, manuscript drafts and notes of books, and a corrected first edition of one book. His official reports for the expeditions include: "Preliminary Report of the Yale Peruvian Expedition [1911" (1912 Jan); "Preliminary Report of the Peruvian Expedition of 1912" (ca. 1913 Jan); and "Further Explorations in the Land of the Incas" (1916 May). This series contains the manuscript, contract, bills, and royalty statements forInca Land(1922); correspondence concerning publication of the book is in Series II, and reviews are in a scrapbook in Series VI. ForMachu Picchu: A Citadel of the Incas(1930), there are the manuscript, partial drafts, and notes. Bingham's manuscript and his corrected copy of the first edition ofLost City of the Incas(1948) are also included in this series.

Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS, MAPS AND SCRAPBOOKS, contains glass slides, taken by H.W. Foote, of Peru, South America and elsewhere; glass negatives of Peruvian crafts and artifacts; photographs of Quichua Indians, pottery, landscapes, and other subjects; photograph exhibition catalogs; lists of captions and of photographs ordered; hand-drawn and printed maps; newspaper clippings about Peru; and scrapbooks of the Peruvian expeditions, 1911-1917, and ofInca Landreviews, 1922-1923.

Series VII, FINANCIAL RECORDS, contains general expenses papers, 1911-1915; expense books for members of the 1912 and 1914-1915 expeditions; record books, 1913-1914; check books and stubs, 1914-1915; expense records for members of the 1911 and 1912 expeditions; expense record book, 1916-1917; work schedule records and time cards, 1913-1914; and bills and receipts, 1911-1917.

Note: The Bingham Family Papers contain additional personal papers of Hiram Bingham, including some materials relating to his work with the Peruvian expeditions. Series III, General Correspondence, includes some letters referring to Peru; of special interest are letters exchanged with James Bryce. Series IV contains Bingham's teaching materials. Series V contains papers relating to Latin America. Although most materials concerning Peru have been integrated with the Yale Peruvian Expedition Papers, Bingham's note cards concerning place names in Peru are filed with reference material in the Bingham Family Papers, Series V. See the register for the Bingham Family Papers for more specific information.


  • 1908-1948


Conditions Governing Access

While this collection as a whole is available for research, parts of it may be restricted due to law, university policy or fragility. Any restricted material will be noted as such.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Hiram Bingham III in 1936. Additional materials given by Bingham and his sons, Woodbridge and Alfred M. Bingham, through the 1970s. Some material was transferred from the Bingham Family Papers (MS 81) in 1977. The papers of H. B. Ferris were transferred from the Yale Medical School Library in 1977. The materials in accession 2014-M-038 were purchased from Sally M. Ivey in 2014 with funds provided by the Yale University Library Associates. Accession 2015-M-024 is gift of New York Public Libary for the Performing Arts.


Arranged in seven series and two additions: I. Administrative Records. II. Correspondence. III. Journals and Notebooks. IV. Reports and Articles. V. Writings of Hiram Bingham. VI. Photographs, Maps and Scrapbooks. VII. Financial Records.


19.54 Linear Feet (46 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, administrative records, scientific reports, writings, and illustrative material on the three expeditions to Peru sponsored by Yale University between 1911-1915. The most celebrated discoveries, the finding of Machu Picchu and of Vitcos, the last capital of the Incas, were studied during the expeditions by scientific specialists who were drawn principally from the Yale faculty. The papers include their diaries, manuscripts, and published reports of their work, as well as the writings of Hiram Bingham III, professor of Latin American history at Yale, and leader of the expeditions.Among Bingham's papers are the official reports of the expedition, and essays and manuscripts of his books. A collection of glass slides showing views of Peru and other parts of South America makes up a part of the visual documentation. Other illustrative materials are maps, clippings, scrapbooks, and photographs of the sites, of Quechua Indians, and of Peruvian artifacts. Among the prominent members of the expeditions were: Isaiah Bowman, Orator F. Cook, George F. Eaton, William G. Erving, H. W. Foote, Herbert E. Gregory, Edmund Heller and Philip Ainsworth Means. Correspondents included scientists and government officials both in South America and the United States. Among these are: Sir Clements Markham, Alberto A. Giesecke, Edward C. Pickering, Thomas Barbour, Pliny E. Goddard, A. B. Leguia (President of Peru), F. A. Prezet, and Edwardo Higginson.

Biographical / Historical

The Yale Peruvian Expeditions of 1911, 1912 and 1914-1915 were organized and led by Hiram Bingham III, professor of Latin American History at Yale University. The expedition of 1911 was sponsored by Yale University and the expeditions of 1912 and 1914-1915 were undertaken under the joint auspices of Yale and the National Geographic Society. These expeditions performed extensive archaeological, geological and topographical exploration, and conducted important studies of Peruvian flora, fauna and native inhabitants. The most significant accomplishments of the expeditions were the discovery, excavation and investigation of the Inca citadel at Machu Picchu, and the identification and exploration of the last capital of the Incas at Vitcos. Machu Picchu was the site of the first Inca ruler's birthplace and of a sacred city of the last Incas, where they sought refuge from the Spanish conquerors.

Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956) studied at Yale (B.A., 1898), the University of California (M.A., 1900), and Harvard (M.A., 1901; Ph.D., 1905). After teaching at Harvard from 1901 to 1904 and at Princeton from 1905 to 1907, he became lecturer in South American History and Geography at Yale (1907-1910), curator of the Collections on South American History (1908-1930), assistant professor of Latin American History (1910-1915), and professor of Latin American History (1915-1924). Bingham subsequently entered politics, and served as lieutenant governor and governor of Connecticut before being elected to the United States Senate, where he served from 1925 to 1933. [Note: For additional biographical information and the personal papers of Hiram Bingham III, see the Bingham Family Papers and the register for that collection.]

Bingham's research in South American History prompted him to embark on an expedition in 1906-1907 to trace the route of Simon Bolivar's march of June, 1819, in Venezuela and Colombia. After attending the First Pan American Scientific Congress in Santiago, Chile (1908 Dec), Bingham undertook a second expedition, following and exploring the old Spanish trade route from Buenos Aires to Lima. During this first trip to Peru in 1909, he visited Cuzco and saw the celebrated Inca ruins at Choqquequirau.

Soon after his return, Bingham began planning and organizing a scientific expedition to explore the land of the Incas. A study of the Spanish chronicles of Peru led him to believe that Choqquequirau was not really the last Inca capital, and he hoped to prove this by discovering the site of the true capital. Bingham secured financial support from Yale University, diplomatic assistance from the United States government, and cooperation from the Peruvian government in obtaining free entry for all supplies and the services of several soldiers to assist in dealings with local officials. The staff assembled for the 1911 Peruvian expedition included prominent scientists in many fields, whose work would complement and overlap at some points in order to provide as much scientific knowledge as possible in a variety of areas. Bingham was director of the expedition. Isaiah Bowman, assistant professor of Geography at Yale and later director of the American Geographical Society and president of Johns Hopkins University, joined the expedition as geologist-geographer. Yale Chemistry professor Harry Ward Foote served as collector-naturalist, and student Paul B. Lanius (1912 Sheffield) served as staff assistant. Other members of the expedition included Dr. William G. Erving, surgeon; Kai Hendriksen, formerly of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, topographer; and Herman L. Tucker, archaeological engineer.

The major goals of the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911 were to climb Mt. Coropuna, believed to be the highest peak in America, to collect geographical and biological data, and above all to search for the last Inca capital. The expedition established headquarters at Cuzco for five months of field work, beginning in June, 1911. Three parties engaged in archaeological, geological and topographical exploration in the region of the Urubamba River, Mt. Coropuna and Lake Parinacochas. Under Bingham's leadership, the expedition made several important archaeological discoveries, including the first investigation of the ruins at Machu Picchu; the Inca temple of Yuracrumiu; the ruins of Vitcos, which Bingham declared to be the palace and last capital of the Incas, built after the retreat from Pizarro's army; Inca ruins at Vilcapampa, also called Espiritu Pampa; and a wall at Cuzco, where vertebrate bones at first believed to be of a pre-Inca race were discovered. Bingham and Tucker also made the first ascent of Mt. Coropuna, which proved not to be the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, and surveyed the previously uncharted Lake Parinacochas. Bowman directed an extensive cross-section survey through the almost unknown region from Urubamba south over the Andes to the Pacific, and Hendriksen made a number of topographical maps and plans of ruins. Foote gathered large natural history collections, including many new species of insects. Tucker and Lanius surveyed Machu Picchu and compiled data for a plan of the ruins, which Bingham used to indicate the importance of the site for further exploration.

The National Geographic Society and Yale University jointly sponsored the Peruvian Expedition of 1912. The chief objectives of the expedition were to make a detailed examination of Machu Picchu, to prepare a topographical map of the vicinity, and to collect as much anthropological and archaeological material as possible. Bingham, as director, was the only member of the 1911 expedition to return. Herbert E. Gregory, Silliman Professor of Geology at Yale, served as geologist. The expedition also included osteologist George F. Eaton, curator of osteology at Yale's Peabody Museum; chief topographer Albert H. Bumstead, formerly of the U. S. Geological Survey; Ellwood C. Erdis, archaeological engineer; Dr. Luther T. Nelson, surgeon; Kenneth C. Heald and Robert Stephenson, assistant topographers; and assistants Paul Bestor, Osgood Hardy and Joseph P. Little.

From June to December, 1912, the expedition staff performed intensive work in a small part of the region which had been explored in 1911. Investigations made in 1912 included: archaeology and osteology of Machu Picchu; topography and archaeology of the surrounding region; geology, osteology and topography of the Cuzco region, especially the age of vertebrate remains; topography and archaeology of the Vitcos area; identification of ancient Inca place names; and an anthropological study of the highland Indians of Peru.

The Yale University-National Geographic Society Peruvian Expedition of 1914-1915 was undertaken in two stages. Between April and November, 1914, the region near Machu Picchu was mapped, some ruins visited in 1911 were surveyed, and an old Inca road leading toward Machu Picchu was discovered. The 1914 staff included Albert H. Bumstead, topographical engineer; Ellwood C. Erdis, chief engineer; Edwin A. Meserve, surgeon; Edwin L. Anderson and C. Frederick Westerberg, assistant topographers; Osgood Hardy, interpreter and chief assistant; and assistant Philip Ainsworth Means, a Harvard student who later became a prominent historian, explorer, and author. Bingham returned to Peru in 1915 as director of the expedition. Anderson, Hardy and Erdis remained in Peru from the 1914 staff. New members of the expedition for 1915 included: botanist Orator F. Cook and assistant botanist G. Bruce Gilbert, both from the Bureau of Plant Industry of the U. S. Department of Agriculture; Edmund Heller, veteran of expeditions to East Africa, Mexico, Guatemala and elsewhere, as naturalist; Clarence F. Maynard, topographer; Dr. David E. Ford, surgeon; Joseph J. Hasbrouck, engineer; Geoffrey W. Morkill, assistant in charge of headquarters; and Ricardo Charaja, assistant to the director.

The principal objective of the 1915 expedition was to secure information about the former inhabitants of Machu Picchu and the nearby region. In the course of exploring Inca roads near Machu Picchu, more ruins were discovered and examined, revealing that the mountain citadel had been the center of a densely populated region. Examination of burial caves and other parts of the Inca ruins yielded numerous potsherds, bronzes and other artifacts, which provided information about the inhabitants of Machu Picchu. Studies of birds and animals in the region produced additional information about living conditions of the Incas, and anthropometric measurements of the local Quichua and Machiganga peoples revealed anthropological characteristics of the descendants of the Incas. Zoological collections of the expedition included specimens of 80 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 15-20 species of snakes, and numerous specimens of fish and insects. These zoological specimens were turned over to the United States National Museum, and the expeditions' artifacts and photographs were placed in the Peabody Museum, Yale University.

Bingham planned to continue his explorations in Peru, but in 1917 the National Geographic Society denied his request for funding another expedition. Yet Bingham retained his interest in Peru, and published several more articles and books giving accounts of his experiences and discoveries as director of the Yale Peruvian expeditions.

Custodial History

The major records of the Yale Peruvian Expeditions were given to Yale University Library in 1936 by Hiram Bingham III. Additional materials were added during the following forty years by Bingham and his sons, Wood-bridge Bingham and Alfred M. Bingham. In 1977, some materials relating to Peru were transferred from the Bingham Family papers, and personal papers in the Yale Peruvian Expedition papers were transferred to the Bingham Family papers. The diary of Paul B. Lanius was given to the library in 1977 by Miss Mary C. Lanius, Denver, Colorado, through the courtesy of Alfred M. Bingham. Also in 1977, papers of H. B. Ferris were transferred from the Yale Medical School Library to be included in the Yale Peruvian Expedition papers.

Separated Materials

Landscapes in Peru (glass slides), originally in Box 34, folder 45, were discarded due to condition.

Guide to the Yale Peruvian Expedition Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Randall C. Jimerson and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
June 1978
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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