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William Gates Papers

Identifier: Manuscripts-Collection 018

Scope and Contents

1923-1925.  Correspondence accumulated while Gates was director of the Middle American Research Institute of Tulane University (1924-1925), 847 pieces.

The William E. Gates Papers were accumulated while Gates served as Director of the Tulane University Middle American Research Institute from its inception in the Spring of 1924 until March, 1926. Arranged chronologically, correspondence from 1923 through 1925 together with invoices from 1924 and 1925 comprise the majority of the collection.

Gates exchanged substantial correspondence with Mr. Walter Parker, General Manager for the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to develop New Orleans as the principal North American commercial hub for Mexico and Central America. In November 1924, Gates traveled to Tabasco with Parker and a group of New Orleans businessmen at the invitation of the governor of that state to study economic and social conditions for the purpose of furthering trade. Following the visit in January 1925, the Governor of Tabasco requested that Tulane undertake a study of the natural plant resources of the state and offered substantial a contribution toward the expense. Gates envisioned development of a far-reaching division of tropical plant research at Tulane, and correspondence with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, botanists, and other interested parties is well represented. Gates drafted a letter to Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles requesting permission to study "plantas, recursos naturales, enfermedades - como se encuentra hoy día."

Also included in the correspondence are letters from individuals seeking employment, among them, J. Eric Thompson (John Eric Sidney Thompson, 1898-1975) and Henry B. Collins, Jr. (Henry Bascom Collins, 1899- ). Correspondence with Frans Blom (Frans Ferdinand Blom, 1893-1963) relative to his hiring at Tulane is filed separately in Folder 37. Professional correspondence with Manuel Gamio (1883-1960), Nicolás León (1859-1929), Sylvanus G. Morley (Sylvanus Griswold Morley, 1883-1948), and A.V. Kidder (Alfred Vincent Kidder, 1885-1963) is present thought not excessive.

Materials concerning the Blom-La Farge 1925 expedition to Central America include correspondence, the expedition report, and account of expenditures. These materials are filed separately in Folder 38, as are press releases concerning archaeological discoveries and other newsworthy information regarding the MARI (Folder 36).

Invoices for 1924/25 cover supplies, equipment, and furniture ordered by Gates for the Middle American Research Institute (MARI).


  • 1923-1925


Conditions Governing Access

Open to the public. No known restrictions.


847.00 Pieces

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

2 Hollinger boxes

William Gates Papers
Manuscript Collection 18, Manuscripts, The Latin American Library, Tulane University
Joan Walraven, October 1980
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script 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