Skip to main content

Rhoads and Morley families papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1587

Scope and Contents

The collection contains papers from the Rhoads and Morley families, including correspondence, writings, notes, drafts, journals, pictures, scrapbooks, and other personal papers.


  • 1881-1986


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Rhoads and Morley families papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Sylvanus (Vanus or Vay) Griswold Morley was born June 7, 1883 to Benjamin F. Morley and Sarah Eleanor Constance De Lannoy. Sylvanus attended school at Harvard University, where he received bachelors and masters degrees in archaeology. In 1908, he married Alice Gallinger Williams, and they had one child, Alice Virginia Morley. Sylvanus and Alice got divorced around 1914. After finishing school, Sylvanus worked with the Carnegie Institute and investigated the ancient Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. He also visited sites throughout Mesoamerica, including Copan, Tikal, Chichen Itza, and Uxmal. His interests included heiroglyphics, monumental architecture, and the Classic and Postclassic Maya. In 1927, Sylvanus G. Morley married Frances Rose Lou Rhoads, and she began to accompany him on excavations and they owned houses in Mexico and Sante Fe. In 1946, Morley wrote The Ancient Maya, a large volume detailing Maya archaeology. Sylvanus died on September 2, 1948 and Frances died March 15, 1955.

Biographical History

The Franklin Koons and Frances May Cook Rhoads family lived in Pekin and Rock Island, Illinios. Franklin Koons Rhoads was born October 23, 1867 in Pekin, Illinois to Samuel Rhoads and Anna Koons. Frances (Fannie) May Cook was born around 1880 to John Spafford Cook and Sarah Dexter. Franklin and Fannie got married April 27, 1892, and they had two children, Dorothy Mary and Frances Louella. Dorothy was born March 19, 1895 and Frances was born September 8, 1898. The family lived in Illinois for many years, near other family members. Frances May died March 28, 1924 and Franklin died March 27, 1943 in Rock Island, Illinois. Dorothy and Frances moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico in about 1920, and Dorothy lived there until 1986, when she died. In 1927, Frances married Sylvanus Morley, and spent her remaining years between Mexico and Sante Fe. Dorothy was a children's book author, and spent time with her sister in Mexico. The family had a Maya godchild named Dorita, who was featured in one of Dorothy's books. Frances died in 1955 and Dorothy died in 1986, both in Sante Fe. Both Franklin and Frances were amateur photographers, and took hundreds of photographs on family trips and other events.


67 cartons (67 linear ft.)




The collection contains papers from the Rhoads and Morley families, including correspondence, writings, notes, drafts, journals, pictures, scrapbooks, and other personal papers.


Arranged in four series: 1. Rhoads family papers, 1881-1986; 2. Sylvanus G. Morley papers, 1915-1955; 3. Rhoads and Morley families photographs, dates; and 4. Rhoads and Morley families photo negatives.

Custodial History

Dennis Rowley, Department Chair of Special Collections at the Herald B. Lee Library initiated the acquisition of this collection in June of 1975. Mr. Rowley had requested information on Maya manuscripts from Robert L. Brunhouse of Mobile, Alabama. Mr. Brunhouse suggested looking into the personal papers of Dr. Sylvanus G. Morley, and referred Rowley to Dorothy Rhoads, sister-in-law to Dr. Morley, for more information. Rowley then proceeded to contact Dorothy and confirm possession of a few materials that might be of interest. After confirmation, Rowley began a long process with Dorothy of correspondence through letters, phone calls, and visitations. At the time of her death, Dorothy willed her personal papers, Franklin K. Rhoads papers, and Sylvanus G. and Frances Rhoads Morley papers to Brigham Young University. The collection was originally received in 57 cartons that were packed by Dennis Rowley and Dorothy's personal representative, Robert Lee, between June and August of 1986. Dennis Rowley taught a class at BYU that included the processing of documents and cataloging of manuscripts. A portion of the collection was sorted and labeled by a few of his students. Their names are noted in the preliminary rough draft inventory taken by Jeffrey Rockwood, student curator, in December of 2000. Jeffrey proceeded to re-number all of the boxes in this preliminary inventory because the previous students mentioned had only worked on a small portion of the collection and disturbed the original order at the time of acquisition. Starting in August 2009, a complete rehousing and processing of the collection commenced. This included the creation of a finding aid, and the processing of the papers and photographs, including correct housing.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Estate of Dorothy Rhoads; 1986.


Utah and American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Processing Information

Processed; John Murphy, Curator for 20th–21st Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts and Thomasina Morris, student manuscript processor; 2009-2010.



Register of Rhoads and Morley families papers
In Progress
Thomasina Morris (student processor)
June 25, 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States