The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

James Collier Gifford

James Collier Gifford was born in October of 1927 in Stamford, Connecticut, the son of Katherine and Isaac Gifford, a banker in a brokerage house. He later lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the 1940s, by which time he had taken up mineral collecting, and purchased mineral specimens from Pohndorf's in Denver in 1945. He moved to the Tucson Heights area of Tucson, Arizona in May of 1951 and enrolled to study archeology at the University of Arizona; he received both his BA and MA Degrees in Archeology from that institution (despite being drafted into military service in 1953). From 1959 to 1964 he was a research archeologist at Harvard University, where he received his PhD in 1963.

Gifford was the founder and editor of the newsletter/journal Ceramica de Cultura Maya in 1961, and also served as editor of The Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Archeological Society.. He joined the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia in 1964, and held the position of Associate Professor there until his death. Gifford conducted field work in both Arizona and Pennsylvania, but his main contributions came in the field of Mayan archeology, especially ceramic studies. He was the author of Prehistoric Maya Settlement in the Belize Valley (1965), and was co-author of Ancient Maya Pottery (1973, 1975). In later years he was co-editor with his wife, Carol, of the New World book review section in The American Journal of Archeology.

Gifford collected minerals prior to his college years (as evidenced by his label, which give his address as Colorado Springs). In 1964 he presented a display collection of Arizona minerals to the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. He died following a long illness, at the age of 45, on January 8, 1973.

Obituary: Anthropology Newsletter (1973) vol. 14(no. 3), page 3.
US Federal Census, 1930.
Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff, March 16, 1974.
To contribute more information please E-mail us at:

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 1 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 1

The Mineralogical Record - James Collier Gifford 38 x 56 mm;
Label for a specimen Gifford purchased from Pohndorf's in Denver, in July 1945
Contents copyright © 2019 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by