T. A. (Theodore Arthur) Willard (1862-1943) was an inventor, musician, and amateur archeologist. Willard published several
books on ancient Mayan culture in the 1930s. This collection of papers dating from 1756-1938 and regarding Mayan languages,
Chichen Itza, and the Cocom family include correspondence and manuscripts by and to T. A. Willard, correspondence and papers
collected by T. A. Willard, original artworks by and collected by T. A. Willard, and photographic negatives and positives
from his 30 journeys to Mexico and Central America.
Theodore Arthur Willard was an engraver, inventor (arguably a mechanical genius), musician, and amateur archeologist. Willard
was born in Castle Rock, Minnesota on December 10, 1862. His mother died in childbirth, and a strained relationship resulted
between Theodore and his father. When Willard was four or five years old, his father gave him away to a childless farming
couple, and Willard could only attend school in the winters when the farm was non-operational. Willard had artistic and mechanical
talent besides his drive for knowledge, and graduated second in his class. After excelling in school, he worked for his eldest
brother, learning to be a wood engraver. Using his skills as an engraver, he started experimenting with battery cells. In
1886 he went to Cleveland, Ohio, where he lived with his uncle Archibald M. Willard (the artist who painted the famous "Spirit
of '76" portrait) and in the 1890s founded the Willard Electric Battery Company, which later became the Willard Storage Battery
Company, a hugely successful and profitable company.
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