Ann Axtell Morris

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Ann Morris (Axtell)

Death: 1945 (44-45)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Charles Whitney Axtell and Private
Sister of Private and Private

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Ann Axtell Morris

Ann Axtell Morris (1900-1945) was an American archaeologist, artist, and author who largely worked in the U.S. southwest and Mexico.

Ann Axtell was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on February 9, 1900. She graduated from Smith College, after which she met archaeologist Earl Morris. The two were married in 1923, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth Ann and Sarah Lane. Elizabeth later went on to get a degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona. Ann and Earl were known to actively conduct archaeological fieldwork together in both the U.S. and Mexico. Some of Ann’s most notable work was at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, where she and her husband conducted multiple years of excavation. Though her husband is considered to be the more famous of the two, Ann was critical to his research and an important pioneer in the field of archaeology during a time when the discipline did not largely accept the participation of women.

In tandem with her husband and other notable figures in archaeology, Ann traveled throughout the Southwest United States and Mexico with support from the Carnegie Institution to conduct fieldwork in the 1920s and 1930s.[4] Among the many projects she was a part of, Ann was an important addition to the task of documenting and reconstructing the Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza.

Ann also wrote two influential books: Digging in Yucatan: Archaeological Explorations in 1924 (1931) and Digging in the Southwest (1933). As an artist as well, her drawings and watercolor paintings documented and drew interest to a number of significant archaeological sites, including Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde.



Ann Axtell, born February 9, 1900, was a prominent archeologist, artist, and author. After graduating from Smith College, Ann met Earl Halstead Morris and they married in 1923. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, "archeology power couple" Ann and Earl worked together during extensive multi-year excavations throughout the American Southwest and in Mexico, including five seasons at Chichen Itza, Yucatan in partnership with the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Although Earl's work tended to eclipse Ann's, she played a critical role in his research. She is significant as a pioneer in archeology at a time when the discipline largely did not accept women's participation.

Ann spent much of her time recording and painting architecture, petroglyphs and pictographs, and landscapes; as well as the everyday tasks of expedition life. She developed methods and standards for pictoral documentation that are still in use today. At a time when archeologists used black-and-white photography to record sites and artifacts, Ann's colorful drawings captured information that would have been lost. She also conducted ethnographic studies of indigenous people who had historically lived near archeological places.

Along with her artwork, Ann wrote two books about her experiences as an archeologist and the significance of her findings. “Digging the Yucatan” and “Digging in the Southwest” show her extensive knowledge and skill as an archeologist and provide a glimpse into her vibrant world. Ann worked at archeological excavations in places that are now national parks, including Aztec Ruins National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park.

Ann and Earl Morris had two daughters, Elizabeth Ann and Sarah Lane. Elizabeth studied Anthropology at the University of Arizona, and following in her parents footsteps, became an Archaeologist and Professor at Colorado State University.

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Ann Axtell Morris's Timeline

February 9, 1900
Age 44