If not for Tom Wetherill's deathbed wish, paper wasps
might still be nesting in the century-old photo albums collected by
his grandfather, one of five brothers who made the modern
discoveries of Mesa Verde and other Indian ruins in the Southwest.
Though later archaeologists ignored the Wetherills, maligning their
work as insufficiently rigorous, the family kept records, books and
photographs that are unusually intact. Their collections documented
new plant species, an early dinosaur dig and artifacts of the
Anasazi basket makers. Now, sparked by Tom Wetherill's last wish,
the private "Wetherill Archive Planning Seminar" Oct. 18 will
gather 12 family members to hear legal and scholarly advice as they
decide where and how to preserve their individual collections.
Archaeologist Fred Blackburn, who organized and acquired grant
funding for the seminar, says, "This goes beyond a family reunion
to the opening of the West." Blackburn still needs some $2,000 to
videotape an oral history and the seminar, which he hopes could
serve as a model for family archival programs elsewhere. The
Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colo., displays Tom Wetherill's
collection. To learn more about the seminar or to attend the free
public welcome that opens the seminar, call Blackburn at
970/565-4747 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.