Volume 63 1954 > Volume 63, No. 3-4 > The Guam Museum, by J. Henry Baird, p 253-254
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THE GUAM MUSEUM

IN 1933 the Guam Museum was organized in the City of Agaña, Guam. Three years later Governor Alexander, by executive orders, established the museum as a Government activity. The small but well arranged museum grew steadily, its collections contained many historical old documents, and prehistorical specimens of the ancient culture, together with other items of general interest. During the American liberation of Guam from Japanese control the building and its contents were totally destroyed. Many of the historical and prehistoric sites and monuments have been destroyed since World War II to make room for armed forces facilities on the island. The present Governor, Ford Q. Elvidge, wishing to arrest the destruction and to provide a suitable place for study and display of the many culture items of interest, appointed on November 24, 1953, a “Parks, Monuments, and Museum Committee” to re-establish, equip and operate the Guam Museum; to conduct studies in archaeology, geology, entomology and Folklore; to restore and preserve the old Spanish landmarks, and such other historical and prehistorical monuments and sites as may now exist on the island. The Governor appointed Dr. J. Henry Baird, chairman of the committee and curator of the museum. The museum staff will consist of Albert Bronson, Joseph W. Brookhart, George D. Peterson, Isydrio Y. Manilisay, Paul Souder, Dr. John T. Stark, Dr. Joshua I. Tracey, Jnr., Lucile Woelfl, and Isabel P. Perez, all of who are eminently qualified in their particular fields. Seven others representing various civil groups have been included in the committee to aid in the beautification and maintenance of the various areas. Dr. Baird who was appointed archaeologist for Guam by the previous Governor, has been busy in research and a field survey definitely locating and clearing all recorded sites now covered by heavy jungle growth. Many new sites and items of interest have been uncovered. Present plans provide for the opening of the new museum in May of this year with a complete geological and marine life exhibit. The archaeological display will consist of available materials now on hand.

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The Marianas Islands were visited by Magellan in 1521. The first permanent mission was established at Agaña, Guam, by Spanish padres and soldiers in 1668, at which time the islands were thickly populated by what appears to have been a Malayo-Polynesian people. Forty years later the first census showed that only 3,678 of the inhabitants survived in the entire Marianas. The little that is known at this time of the cultural history of these people is taken from old Spanish documents and a few descriptive observation by visitors during the Spanish era. After the American occupation of Guam in 1899, many articles by naval officers were published in the Guam Recorder. The principal source of information is the publication by the Bishop Museum, based principally on Hornbostel's collection made in the 1920's are described by Laura Thompson in Archaeology of the Marianas Islands (1932), the same author wrote “The Function of Latte in the Mairanas,” in the Journal of the Polynesian Society. One of the outstanding archaeological sights of Guam are the parallel rows of upright stones, locally called “latte.” Human skeletal remains, stone implements, sherds, weapons, etc., are often associated with these sites to a depth of 40 to 50 inches. A carbon dating of 1375 B.C. plus or minus 200, is reported by Dr. Alex Spoehr in an excavation at Saipan in 1949 (about 130 miles north of Guam). It would appear from the available data that the ancient people had a highly developed neolithic culture with many similarities to the Malayo-Polynesians levels in Southeast Asia. Since available data is incomplete, detailed field investigations, classification, and comparative studies of their culture will be made by the Museum staff.