WS Ranch Archives

Papers from the WS Ranch Excavation

The WS Ranch Project encompasses the work of the University of Texas Archaeological Field School in west-central New Mexico between 1977 and 1994. Participants got hands-on experience learning the principles of archaeological excavation while working on a site left behind by people from the Mogollon culture. This work resulted in a significant number of artifacts and scientific documentation that have never been available to the public. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science acquired the collection in 2017. Archivists, archaeologists, and collections managers are actively processing the papers and photos; we hope to finish that work in late 2019 or early 2020. The artifacts will arrive in Denver in 2021.


Sam Schiller, MLIS

Archivist and Collections Data Manager

WS Ranch Project Background

The WS Ranch Project encompasses nearly 20 years of archaeological excavation and survey in the Gila National Forest and surrounding areas in west-central New Mexico. Excavations occurred mainly at the WS Ranch site but also included work at nine other locations.

Surveys and test excavation began at the WS Ranch site in 1977 under the guidance of James A. Neely, PhD. Shortly thereafter, surveys and test excavations began at the nearby WS-17 (or HO-Bar) site. Similar test excavations occurred at the WS-5 and WS-41 sites (also known as the McKeen Ranch Site), Eva Faust Site, Devil’s Park, Apache Creek Pueblo, O Block Cave, and the Squirrel Springs Site. Several of these sites—including the WS Ranch site, Eva Faust site, and the McKeen site—are partially located on private land. Volunteers from Earthwatch also participated during the field seasons. The archives contain field research reports, scholarly research, student reports, theses, and dissertations, and other materials.

Processing Notes

The archival papers of the project were transferred to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in December 2017; we began processing the papers shortly thereafter. We began by conducting a survey and inventory of the materials, which measured in excess of 70 linear feet. Minimal culling was done—items removed include blank forms, duplicate and irrelevant materials, and non-annotated maps.

We are currently in the process of cataloging this massive collection. We are organizing the papers chronologically by each subsite name within the project, followed by additional surveying work performed on and around the site. Once complete, this collection of papers will support the work of our colleagues in the Anthropology Department, whose job will be to catalog the thousands of artifacts excavated from the site over the two decades that the field school was active.

To view a current inventory of the papers, click "Collection Finding Aid" from the menu on the left.

Interns and Volunteers

Many thanks are due to anthropology graduate student Kathleen Jacobs, who has dedicated many hours to this project over the past several months. Jacobs was instrumental in helping us appraise, evaluate, organize, and catalog the WS Ranch papers. She has been the heart and soul of the project, and her expertise has been invaluable. We would also like to thank volunteers Pat Martin and Daren Fischer, who have contributed their time and efforts to this project as well.

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