Seonaid Valiant, the Curator for Latin American Studies and Interim Curator for Rare Books and Manuscripts at the ASU Library, holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago with special fields in Latin American and Art History and an MLIS from the University of Illinois. Her book,Ornamental Nationalism: Archaeology and Antiquities in Mexico, 1876-1911 (Brill, 2018) examines international debates over the meaning of Aztec symbols and the professionalization of archaeology in Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century. Valiant works on the professionalization of archives and has traced the provenance of several important books, such as the Popul Vuh. Her current research project is a social biography of the anthropologist and manuscript scholar Zelia Nuttall, who worked in Mexico at the turn of the last century.
The Mixtec pictorial manuscript, now known as the Codex Tonindeye, was stolen from an Italian monastery library in 1859. Several decades later, the Mexican American anthropologist Zelia Nuttall located the document after many years of searching. Determined to reinstate its historical identity, Nuttall closely studied the codex and reproduced it in a lush facsimile; it was named the Codex Nuttall (1902) in her honor. Using Nuttall’s correspondence with her publishers at the Peabody Museum, this article investigates the role of archives and museums in nineteenth-century textual scholarship, explores how Nuttall relocated the codex and labored over creating the facsimile, and addresses the ongoing importance of the document.