Carl V. Hartman and the Costa Rica Collections


Carl V. Hartman
C.V. Hartman at the Chinchilla site during the initial phase of excavation

As the field of anthropology gained credibility in the scientific community, an increasing number of university and museum positions became available in the United States. Because of this increase in interest, Hartman actively sought employment in an American museum. His visit to New York City for the 13th International Congress of Americanists in October 1902 would prove invaluable in this search, for it was here that Hartman met W.J. Holland, Director of Carnegie Museum. This connection with Holland would open the door to a career at Carnegie Museum.

1902 –October

Hartman and Holland meet at the 13th International Congress of Americanists in New York City.

After the Congress, Hartman and a group of dignitaries travel to various American cities including Pittsburgh, where Holland presents his vision of an expanded Carnegie Museum.

1903 –January 28

Hartman writes to Holland inquiring if Carnegie Museum would be interested in engaging his services. His letter summarizes his previous experience and a proposal for further research in "Spanish America."

1903 –February 10

Holland responds, stating his interest in Hartman for the position of Curator of Ethnology and Archaeology. He requests from Hartman a list of his previous museum experience.

1903 –February 15

Hartman writes, acknowledging Holland's "honorable proposition" and indicating that he has been strongly advised by Franz Boas, of the American Museum of Natural History (who had written to Holland on Hartman's behalf), to accept the position if offered.

1903 –February 20

Hartman follows up with a letter providing extensive background information about his life and a detailed account of his research and museum experience. He also asks for a definite offer covering time, salary, and opportunities from Holland.

1903 –February 28

In a Museum Committee meeting, Holland presents his "Report of the Director of the Carnegie Museum" in which he states the following: "Dr. C. V. Hartman, whose acquaintance I formed at the recent Congress of Americanists...has had experience in Museum work, having been associated with Dr. Stolpe, the celebrated Swedish ethnologist, whose assistant he was at Stockholm. He was for a long time with Dr. Lumholtz in Mexico and has written extensively upon the ethnology of Costa Rica. It may be that he is the man, for whom we are looking." Upon his recommendation, the Museum Committee authorizes Hartman's appointment.

Later that day, Hartman receives and accepts a formal offer for the position of Curator of Ethnology and Archaeology.

The negotiations between Hartman and Holland were concluded in only one month!

1903 –March 17

Hartman reports for duty at Carnegie Museum.

1903 –March 31

Hartman is 'dispatched' on an expedition to Costa Rica.

Hartman's employment at Carnegie Museum included the seven-month expedition to Costa Rica and several years in Pittsburgh until his resignation in 1908. Although his employment in Pittsburgh lasted just over five years, his contributions to Costa Rican archaeology and Carnegie Museum were immeasurable.

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