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Imaging rare, unusual, and intriguing objects at the Brown University Library

Professor Smiley and the Mayans


Already noted by Brown anthropology professor Stephen Houston last summer, the long-count Mayan calendar has now also been pragmatically confirmed to be of no grave cataclysmic import. Brown astronomy professor Charles H. Smiley (1903–1977) had contributed detailed work on the Mayan calendar system. He also happened to keep extensive travel scrapbooks throughout his career, several of which have been digitized by the library (as full volumes, per page, and also as individual objects within pages). His scrapbooks preserve miscellaneous travel ephemera — ticket stubs, restaurant menus — as well as personal photographs and letters. Shown below are some items from his winter 1959–1960 visit to Mayan ruins relating to the resulting publication of his cross-calendar correlation research.

Professor Smiley at Mayan site

Mayan hieroglyphs as drawn by Professor Smiley (detail)

Pre-print of Professor Smiley’s calendar research (detail)

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