A family preserves the West

  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 [email protected]
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