Gordon, G. B. (George Byron), 1870-1927

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Sir Leonard Woolley directed the excavations at Ur in southern Iraq from 1922 to 1934 for the Joint Expedition of the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum. As part of this involvement, the University of Pennsylvania Museum sent Leon Legrain, Curator of the Babylonian Section, as a cuneiformist during the 1924–1925 and 1925–1926 seasons. Most of the records of the Ur expedition are located at the British Museum. The Museum Archives hold only a few records.

From the guide to the Ur, Iraq expedition records, Bulk, 1922-1934, 1920-1976, (University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives)

George Byron Gordon, explorer in Central America and Alaska, and first to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, was born in New Perth, Prince Edward Island, Canada on August 4,1870. He was the son of James Gordon and Jane MacLaren Gordon, one of six children. Gordon attended the University of South Carolina for one year in 1888 then completed his degree at Harvard University. Selected as an assistant to John G. Owens in 1892, Gordon accompanied Owens on the Harvard-sponsored excavation at Copan, Honduras. When Owens died in the field, Gordon was given the leadership to close down that portion of the work and then continued as Director of the next six sessions in Copan, until 1900. While performing these duties, Gordon attained his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1894.

Gordon joined the Free Museum of Science and Art(later the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology)in 1903 as Assistant Curator in the Section of General Ethnology. He led two expeditions to Alaska, in 1905 and 1907 with his brother MacLaren Gordon. The Gordons chose a new approach to exploration of the region. They descended the Yukon River to Tanana, then followed the Tanana south reaching formerly unknown Lake Minchumina, the source of the Kuskokwim River. Gordon named the hitherto unknown aboriginal tribe from this area as "Kuskwagamutes." His trip laid the groundwork for future exploration in the area and was described in Gordon's book, In the Alaskan Wilderness(Philadelphia:John C.Winston Company,1917).

While selected courses in Anthropology had been offered in the field at the University of Pennsylvania by Daniel Garrison Brinton, George Gordon was first to teach a regular schedule of undergraduate and graduate courses from 1907 through 1915. During this time, the Department of Anthropology was established by Frank G. Speck. Gordon was appointed Director of the Free Museum of Science and Art in 1910 and oversaw one of the largest periods of growth in its collection and prestige. He established the Museum Journal which later became the Museum Bulletin. Gordon is also known for his keen eye as a collector, purchasing the finest of antiquities and driving a hard bargain to obtain them. He oversaw additions to the Museum's collection of treasures from Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, and the American Continent. Gordon's most lasting gift is the Museum's Chinese collection.

Gordon was a voracious reader and writer of both scholarly works and those in the literary vein. He wrote on the history of London in, Rambles in Old London(Philadelphia:George W. Jacobs& Co.,1924) and the collection contains examples of his attempts to publish more popular material.

In 1926, the University of Pennsylvania conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Science on George Byron Gordon. Gordon died, following an accident at the Philadelphia Racquet Club, on January 30, 1927. At the time of his death, Gordon was Director of expeditions conducted by field staff in Beisan (Bet Sh'ean)in the area then known as Mesopotamia(Israel) and at Ur(Iraq).

Gordon was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Franklin Inn Club, the Lenape Club, the Rittenhouse Club, the Explorer's Club of New York, the American Anthropological Association, the American Ethnological Society, and the Authors Club of London. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

From the guide to the George Byron Gordon Central America expedition records, Bulk, 1893-1924, 1893-1956, (University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Child, William, b. 1834. Gordon, George. Godfrey Memorial Library
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn George G. Heye autograph collection, 1886-1928 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Sage, Gardner A. [Map of the area later bounded by 8th Street, 4th Avenue, Washington Place and Mercer Street, Manhattan, New York (N.Y.)] / G.A. Sage. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Ur, Iraq expedition records, Bulk, 1922-1934, 1920-1976 University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
referencedIn Bowditch, Charles P. (1842-1921). Papers, 1869-1918 Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
referencedIn Hilprecht, Hermann Vollrat, 1859-1925. Papers 1899 - 1942 1904 - 1910. University of Pennsylvania, Archives & Records Center
referencedIn Sage, Gardner A. [Map of the area later bounded by 8th Street, the Bowery, Great Jones Street and Broadway, Manhattan, New York (N.Y.)]. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Robert Burkitt excavation records, Bulk, 1913-1930, 1903-1939 University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
referencedIn Ballard, Roy Page. History of the Stanford campus, of 1894. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf George Byron Gordon Central America expedition records, Bulk, 1893-1924, 1893-1956 University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
referencedIn Lincoln, Edmund 1870-. Miscellaneous papers relating to the excavation of Maya ruins, circa 1880-1900. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Sage, Gardner A. [Map of the area later bounded by Astor Place, Lafayette Street, 4th Street and Broadway, Manhattan, New York (N.Y.)] / Gardner A. Sage. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Speck, Frank Gouldsmith. Frank Gouldsmith Speck Papers. 1903-1950. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Gordon, G. B. (George Byron), 1870-1927. Correspondence with Edgar Fahs Smith, 1911. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf University of Pennsylvania. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Correspondence with Henry Charles Lea, 1892-1909. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Stanford University. Records of Stanford properties, 1861-1927. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Spence, Irven. The Yankee Doodle mouse, 1943 July 2. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Allan-Higinbotham Papers, 1845-1884. Miscellaneous file of broadsides, postcards, documents, pictures, letters, etc. University of Guelph
referencedIn George Gordon Steamboat inspector's correspondence collection 1867-1874. The Mariners' Museum Library
creatorOf Smith, Erminnie Adele Platt, 1836-1886. [Peabody Museum director records, Frederic W. Putnam (1839-1915), 1870-1923]. Harvard University, Tozzer Library
creatorOf Baldwin, Charles Crittenton, 1888-. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1919. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882. Autograph letter signed : Concord, Mass., to George Gordon, 1850 Feb. [i.e. Mar.] 6. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn George G. Heye autograph collection, 1886-1928 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Stanford ranches and lands records, 1838-1896. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Mary Owen Guatemalan folktales collection, Bulk, 1915, 1915-1991 University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
referencedIn Graham, John. Land patent, 1809,1814. Clarke Historical Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allan-Higinbotham Papers, 1845-1884. corporateBody
associatedWith Baldwin, Charles Crittenton, 1888- person
associatedWith Ballard, Roy Page. person
associatedWith Burkitt, Robert James, 1869-1945 person
associatedWith Cavell, Edith, 1865-1915 person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Charles P. Bowditch person
associatedWith Child, William, b. 1834. person
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882. person
associatedWith George G.(George Gustav), Heye 1874-1957. person
associatedWith Graham, John. person
associatedWith Heye, George G. (George Gustav), 1874-1957. person
associatedWith Hilprecht, Hermann Vollrat, 1859-1925. person
associatedWith Jayne, Horace Howard Furness, 1898-1975 person
associatedWith Legrain, Leon, 1878-1962 person
associatedWith Lincoln, Edmund 1870- person
associatedWith Owen, Mary person
associatedWith Sage, Gardner A. person
associatedWith Speck, Frank Gouldsmith, 1881-1950 person
associatedWith Stanford University. corporateBody
associatedWith University Museum. University of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Pennsylvania. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Guatemala
Tall al-Muqayyar (deserted settlement)
Subject
Archaeological surveying
Guatemala--Antiquities
Excavations (Archaeology)
Archaeological expeditions
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1870-08-04

Death 1927-01-30

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