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Frank D. Rathbun Archaeology Papers (MS-00209)


The Frank D. Rathbun Archaeology Papers (1918-1983) consist of photographs, field note books and sketchbooks reflecting Rathbun's interest in petroglyphs throughout Nevada, Arizona, and California. The materials also include high school yearbooks, school term papers, scrapbooks, postcards, and memos pertaining to Native American history, water projects, and engineering topics. Additionally included is an unpublished report of an archaeological survey of the petroglyph sites identified by Rathbun, conducted in 1968 by Michael Moen.

Finding Aid PDF


1918 to 1983
bulk 1931 to 1941


1.29 Cubic Feet (3 boxes, 1 oversized box, and 1 flat file)
4.89 Linear Feet
17 digital_files (0.136 GB) JPG

Related People/Corporations

Scope and Contents Note

The Frank D. Rathbun Archaeology Papers (1918-1983) contain materials detailing Rathbun’s archaeological and hydrological studies in California, Arizona, and Nevada. The collection contains index books, 1918 United War Work Campaign newspapers, postcards, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, field note books, books of Native American trails and localities, an unpublished survey of the Southern Nevada petroglyphs by Michael Moen for the Museum of Natural History Archaeological Research Center at Nevada Southern University, Las Vegas, Nevada (now the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada), high school yearbooks and school term papers. The collection also includes water research materials, newspaper articles and maps concerning the Colorado River Aqueduct, and an instruction for surveyors with hand drawn illustrations. Select material has been digitized for preservation purposes and is noted at the file level of this inventory.

Access Note

Collection is open for research, with the exception of materials that are restricted to protect cultural resource areas. Restrictions are noted at the file level of this inventory. Arrangements must be made in advance to access digital files; please contact UNLV Special Collections and Archives for additional information.

Publication Rights

Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.


Materials remain in original order.

Biographical / Historical Note

Frank D. Rathbun (1908-1968) was born in 1908 to Frank De Graff and Mary Goldacker Rathbun. His father was a mining engineer and encouraged his son's interest in geology and archaeology. The younger Rathbun worked for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District as an engineer and surveyor. He worked on water development and dam projects throughout the Southwestern United States, primarily in California, Nevada, and Arizona. Most notably Rathbun was employed on the Colorado River Aqueduct in the 1930s. Rathbun documented archaeological sites throughout his surveying work, identifying areas with Native American petroglyphs, artifacts, and structures, as well as areas of unusual geological interest. Frank D. Rathbun died in 1968 and was buried in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Related Collections

The following resource may provide additional information related to the materials in this collection:

Frank Rathbun Photograph Collection, undated. PH-00163. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Preferred Citation

Frank D. Rathbun Archaeology Papers, 1918-1983. MS-00209. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Acquisition Note

Materials were transferred to the University Archives in 1971 from the Barrick Museum of Natural History, Archaeological Research Center, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada; accession numbers T-144 and 1971-004.

Processing Note

In 2018, as part of an archival backlog project, Lee Hanover arranged the materials, wrote the finding aid, and entered the information into ArchivesSpace. In 2019, Melise Leech rehoused the materials and revised the collection description to bring it into compliance with current professional standards. Some items in this collection are digital surrogates. In 2020, due

to insurmountable preservation issues, Sarah Jones digitized select materials from the collection for preservation purposes.

Resource Type




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