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Herbert Spinden was born in Heron, South Dakota in 1879. In 1902, Spinden entered Harvard University where he studied with Frederick Putnam and Alfred Tozzer. He received a PhD in Anthropology in 1909, completing a thesis on Maya art.
Upon the completion of his doctorate, he joined the American Museum of Natural History as an assistant curator. Spinden continued to research Maya culture and was particularly interested in creating a correlation between the Maya and Christian calenderers. Spinden remained at the AMNH until 1921 when he left to join Harvard's Peabody Museum (1921-1926). From there he went to the Buffalo Museum of Arts and Sciences (1926-1929), but spent most of his career at the Brooklyn Museum (1929-1951) where he worked to build the pre-Columbian and Colonial collections from Mexico, Central, and South America. Spinden was involved in a number of professional societies and served as the president of the American Anthropological Association from 1936-1937.
|1929-1951||Curator, Brooklyn Museum, NY|
|1926-1929||Curator, Buffalo Museum of Arts and Sciences|
|1921-1926||Curator, Harvard Peabody Museum|
|1912||Fieldwork in Yucatan, Mexico, and Southwestern US|
|1909-1921||Assistant Curator, AMNH|
|1909||Ph.D., Harvard University|
|1908||MA, Harvard University|
|1905||BA, Harvard University|