Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice

Agnese Nelms Haury

Agnese Nelms Haury was a dedicated philanthropist with a passion for investing in innovative scholarship. She passed away in March 2014, in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 90. During her life, she supported a wide range of people, organizations, and causes in environment, social justice, and the southwest United States. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Haury retained a commitment to her southwestern origins yet also developed international interests while studying and living abroad.

She attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, receiving a BA in History. In 1947, she became an editorial assistant with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, helping to edit the United Nations (UN) News and International Conciliation and supporting the work of the Conference Group of Non-governmental Organizations. She married Manice deForest Lockwood in 1950. In 1954, she began working at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as the assistant editor of International Conciliation. She traveled to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Libya, and Burma surveying and writing treatises on economic and social problems, as well as economic development possibilities, in those countries. She wrote several reports for the United Nations and edited the 1962 UN Yearbook.

Haury worked under Alger Hiss at the Carnegie Endowment and subsequently was active in the movement to clear Hiss’ name after he was accused of spying for the Soviet Union. In honor of Hiss, she established the Alger Hiss Distinguished Professorship at Bard College. She also provided financial support for the Emergency Civil Liberties Foundation; The Nation Institute; the National Security Archive, an independent nonprofit repository of declassified U.S. government documents; and individuals who were engaged in both legal research and writing about Hiss. Additionally, Haury helped establish New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War and the Alger Hiss Papers Project at NYU’s Tamiment Library.

When Haury moved to Tucson in 1965, she helped to process and catalog artifacts recovered from the Snaketown Archaeological Project in central Arizona, which was directed by Emil W. Haury, who became a close friend. In 1967, she helped research and edit Gunnar Myrdal’s renowned books Asian Drama and The Poverty of Nations. In 1968, she became the editor of the Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona. In 1978, she married Denver Lindley, who shared her interest in archaeology.

From 1981-1990, Haury was president of the Agnese N. Lindley Foundation, which funded projects concerning social and humanitarian problems, civil and human rights issues, the arts, the environment, and scientific research. The foundation also supported journalism, civic affairs, and economic advancement in less-developed countries. The foundation supported more than 200 projects, including the preservation of more than 100,000 photographs of the conflict in El Salvador; the startup of an Inter-American Environmental Policy Center, a project to help increase the number of Indian groups gaining federal tribal recognition; and research on the rapidly disappearing Native American languages of Yaqui and Samish. The foundation also provided grants for archaeological excavations and a field school, scholarships in the fields of art conservation and musical commissions, support for tree-ring research and training, an analysis of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species and risks to biodiversity on the US-Mexico border, native seeds, an intern program for The Nation magazine, support for the Guardian newspaper, and opportunities for young journalists to learn about political and social reporting. In 1983, she was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the University of Arizona Alumni Association.

In 1990, she married Emil Haury after they were both widowed. Emil Haury was a world-renowned authority on the Native people of the Southwest, head of the UA School of Anthropology and director of the Arizona State Museum. He is well known for his work on the Paleo-Indians of the Southwest, especially the Hohokam and the Mogollon Culture, as well as the famous mammoth kill sites at Whitewater Draw, Naco, and Lehner Ranch. He was very interested in the use of dendrochronology—or tree-ring dating—to establish dating for archaeological and ecological remains. He passed away in 1992.

In memory of Emil Haury, Agnese Nelms Haury established endowments for anthropology graduate students, the Agnese and Emil Haury Fellow in Archaeological Dendrochronology, and the construction of the Agnese and Emil Haury Southwest Native Nations Pottery Vault at the Arizona State Museum. In 1999, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the UA. In 2007, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society gave her the Victor R. Stoner Award.

With Haury’s support, the University of Arizona established programs in public interest law and immigration paralegal training and established the Agnese N. Haury Institute of Court Interpretation, an intensive professional court interpretation training program.

Haury also supported the work of the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona, a unit devoted to studies of the greater southwest region. She was instrumental in bringing writer, conservationist, and food activist Gary Nabhan to the Southwest Center. She also was a long-term supporter of David Yetman and his work on the ecology and culture of Sonora, as well as his TV programs, "The Desert Speaks" and "In the Americas". Haury gave a major gift in support of the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building, opened in 2013, which houses the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and its irreplaceable collection of tree-ring specimens from around the world.