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Christopher Day Collection

Identifier: Manuscripts-Collection 135

Scope and Contents

1910-(1959-1975)-1978. The Christopher Day Collection contains correspondence, field notes, papers and other research materials, written or collected by Day, who was an anthropologist specializing in the study of Jacaltec, a Mayan Language spoken in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. The majority of the collection consists of linguistic and lexicographic materials used by Day to study the Jacaltec language and prepare a Jacaltec-Spanish dictionary.

The material in the Christopher Day Collection spans the years 1910 to 1978, with the majority of documents dating between 1959 and 1975. The collection is currently (October, 2000) in good condition, although many pages of notes are starting to show their age. Most of the collection consists of Dr. Day's research materials for a Jacaltec-Spanish Dictionary, (see the linguistic note to explain the organization of this part of the collection.) Included in these materials are a copy of the final computer print out (manuscript) of Professor Day's Jacaltec/Spanish Dictionary and a number of lexical entries on cards for the dictionary.

The portion of the collection identified as Biographical-Personal-Professional-Research contains some of Dr. Day's personal correspondence, course materials from the University of Chicago, copies of several of his papers, which include his unpublished Master's Thesis, A The Phonology of Villa Las Rosa Tzeltal. This part of the collection also contains research on Jacaltec numeral classifers Christopher Day did in conjunction with the work on Tzetzal numeral classifers by Brent Berlin and Chuj numeral classifers by Nicholas Hopkins.

Over the course of his academic career Dr. Day collected a number of printed works including materials from the University of Chicago's Highland Maya Seminar. Among these works are the proceedings of the First, Second and Third Seminario Chicago-Chiapas. These also include works, questionnaires and other materials developed by noted University of Chicago Anthropologist Norman McQuown. Professor Day also collected Jacaltec language materials written by other individuals.

This part of the collection also includes materials about other Mayan Languages including Chontal, Chuj, Mam, Pocomchi, Quiche, Tzetzal, Tzoltzil and Yucatec. These documents included grammars, dictionaries and articles about aspects of the various languages. There is also material dealing with Mayan Comparative and Historical Linguistics, Ethnology, as well was Mayan Epigraphy and Calenderics. This part of the holdings also contain what has been titled other collected works which include a wide variety of printed materials about linguistics, other Mesoamerican, South American and North American Indian languages and related subjects.


  • 1910-(1959-1975)-1978
  • Other: Majority of material found in c. 1959-1975


Conditions Governing Access

Open to the public. No known restrictions.

Biographical or Historical Information

Christopher Day was born in Medford, Oregon on May 19, 1936. He received his B.A. in Physics from Reed College (1957) and an M.A. (1960) and Ph.D. (1967) in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Professor Day taught for many years in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Rochester, where he was a tenured professor. Dr. Day participated in the University of Chicago's Highland Maya Seminar during late 1950s in the Mexican state of Chiapas. He studied the Tzetzal Mayan language in Villa Las Rosas. After this Professor Day concentrated his studies on the Jacaltec Mayan language, spoken in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. His research centered on the semantics, grammar and the interrelations between the two of a form class of words for shape and position in the Jacaltec language. He also researched the semantics and grammar of Jacaltec numeral classifers. Christopher Day's notable publications include the grammar, The Jacaltec Language. Dr. Day also did extensive research for a Spanish-Jacaltec/Jacaltec-Spanish Dictionary based on semantic principles.


15.00 Linear Feet

Arrangement Note

12 Hollinger boxes



Education - University of Chicago

Employment/ Professional Activities

Miscellaneous Research Materials/Papers by Christopher Day


A) Jacaltec Linguistics





B) Jacaltec Lexicography

C) Jacaltec Texts

D) Historical & Miscellaneous documents

E) Photos and Negatives

F) Jacaltec Lexical Entries on Index Cards for Dictionary

G) Computer Print Outs

Final Dictionary--Jacaltec/Spanish--Spanish/Jacaltec

Draft Dictionary Entries

Miscellaneous Linguistic Analysis


A) Chiapas Project-Highland Maya Seminar Materials, University of Chicago

B) Jacaltec Language Materials by Other

C) Non-Jacaltec Mayan Language Materials Including Comparative and Historical Linguistics, Ethnology and Epigraphy and Calenderics

D) Other Collected Writings

Linguistic Note By Sergio Romero

This part of the Christopher Day Collection was divided into four basic categories: Jacaltec Linguistics, Lexicon, Texts and Historical & Miscellaneous Documents. Within the first group three additional divisions were set up according to the level of linguistic analysis addressed: Phonetics-Phonology, Morphosyntax and Semantics-Lexicography. Some documents included material from all four levels but it was decided to group them according to the most prominent. Semantics-lexicography includes materials such as semantic domain analysis and lists of words that could have been used in the preparation of the Jacaltec dictionary. However, it was decided to keep them separate from the actual dictionary material since they were independent studies that stood on their own.

The lexicon includes all the material directly related to the Jacaltec dictionary: dictionary copies, file slips, thematic vocabularies, etc. This comprises a sizable portion of the collection. Historical & Miscellaneous documents include pictures, copies of documents from archives, maps, censuses and other primary materials not directly related to linguistic work. There are some ethnographic questionnaires also. All of these directly refer to Jacaltenango and its surroundings.

Related Materials

Bibliographic information for The Jacaltec Language is available via the following link:

The Jacaltec Language.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Philip S. MacLeod with Sergio Romero, November 2000
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Latin American Library at Tulane Repository

7001 Freret Street
Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, 4th floor
Tulane University
New Orleans Louisiana 70118 US
(504) 865-5681