The collection documents George Eaton Simpson's fieldwork in Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Nigeria and consists of 704 unique images. The 1936 images of Haiti were primarily made at Milot, Fort Liberté, and Cap Haitien. The 1937 images were predominantly taken in Plaisance, Haiti; these include images of people, buildings, houses, street views, coumbites (communal work groups), a wedding ceremony and procession, markets, social gatherings with drumming and dancing, dancing demonstrations, and Vodun ceremonies. Images of Jamaica in 1953 and 1957 were made primarily in Kingston, Spanish Town, and Morant Bay; these depict people, buildings, houses, outdoor scenes, Revival Zion leaders and ceremonies, Jonkonnu (John Canoe) dancers, Rastafarian activists and leaders, and Kumina-related instruments. Images from Trinidad in 1960 primarily depict Maracas Bay, Tunapuna, and Port of Spain, and relate to the Shango Cult and the Spiritual Baptists (sometimes referred to as Shouters); included are religious participants, ceremonies, processions, baptisms, temples, and shrines and altars. The Nigerian images date to 1964, and largely depict subjects in Ibadan and Lalupon, including people, markets, a dance festival, temples, ceremonies, and shrines.
The photographs were primarily made by Simpson, but some were made in Jamaica by Frederic Ramsey, Jr. Many prints and slides are annotated by Simpson. The collection also includes a few reprints of articles based on Simpson's field work and words and musical transcription from Savalou Ricourt, a musician of Port au Prince in 1937.
George Eaton Simpson (1904-1998) was an anthropologist who researched the various social aspects of Caribbean religions. Simpson received his BS from Coe College (1926), his MA from the University of Missouri (1927), and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (1934). He taught in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Oberlin College from 1947-1971. Simpson conducted fieldwork in numerous locales, including Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Nigeria, focusing primarily on Caribbean religions such as Vodun in Haiti, Rastafarianism in Jamaica, and the Spiritual Baptists in Trinidad. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including "The Vodun Service in Northern Haiti," "The Shango Cult in Nigeria and Trinidad," and Black Religions in the New World.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 93-14
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Simpson's film footage of Plaisance, Haiti, held in Human Studies Film Archives HSFA 92.12.1.
Additional photographs from Simpson held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 2001-24.
Oberlin College Archives holds the George E. Simpson Papers, 1940-1985.
Sound recordings by Simpson held in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections in the Folkways Records Collection and the Moses and Frances Asch Collection.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.