The Homer Garner Barnett papers, 1934-1973, consist of papers, photographs, slides, maps, and periodicals primarily documenting his ethnological work among American Indians, Palauans, and the people of Netherlands New Guinea (Irian Jaya).
Scope and Contents:
The Homer Garner Barnett papers, 1934-1973, contain papers, photographs, slides, maps, periodicals, field notes and copies of studies done by others. Dr. Barnett, an ethnologist, anthropologist, author and teacher spent his early professional years, 1934-1943, studying Northwest Coast Indians. After the second World War, her focused on Micronesia, especially Palau, and later Netherlands New Guinea, now known as West Irian. It was during this time that he observed at close hand and became an expert in cultural change.
Between 1947 and 1970, years of drastic change for natives of Oceania, Dr. Barnett made three long stays and many shorter ones in the islands. He used his research in writing, teaching, and consulting.
His early study of Yurok, Hupa, Karok, Nuqually, Oakville and Skopomish Indians is contained in research notebooks, field notebooks and photographs. There is an interesting section on Indian Shakerism (not related to the Shaker Movement of the East). One notebook records his experience while conducting a class at Berkeley in 1943 on inter-cultural exchange of information. The later field notebooks record his observations while on Palau and New Guinea. There are also approximately 900 slides that he used in class lectures.
Dr. Barnett amassed a large collection of scholarly papers and periodicals dealing with the South Pacific area, especially during the years 1952-1960. There are a few publications in Japanese reflecting the interests of the prior trustees of Palau. There are significant numbers of scientific papers in Dutch on natives of New Guinea. He also preserved interesting examples of literature in Palauan, pidgin English and Papuan.
There is no personal correspondence other than that pertaining to setting up a study of displaced communities in the South Pacific. This study was funded over a 5-year period by the National Science Foundation. The resulting papers are on deposit at the University of Oregon.
Dr. Barnett spent 2 years (1944-1946) as Senior Fellow in ethnogeography at the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE). There are no papers in this collection dating from those years, but the BAE Correspondence files contain letters to and from Barnett during this period.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
The Homer Garner Barnett papers are arranged in the following series:
(1) Material relating to the "Displaced Communities" Study, 1963-1970;
(2) Writings, 1938-1959;
(3) Field notebooks, 1934-circa 1955;
(4) Dissertation notebooks, undated;
(5) Linguistic material, 1941-1965;
(6) Scholarly serials and periodicals, 1950-1971;
(7) Processed and printed items, 1942-1974;
(8) Photographs, 1895-1955;
(9) Micronesian Monthly/Reporter, 1951-1963;
(10) Quarterly Bulletin of the South Pacific Commission, 1953-1963;
(11) Photographic slides, 1947-1953;
(12) Maps, 1887-1959
Homer G. Barnett trained at the University of California at Berkeley and practiced as an ethnologist and archeologist. He specialized in culture change and applied anthropology.
Barnett's earliest field work was among American Indians of Oregon, Washington, and northwestern California--particularly the Yurok, Hupa, Yakima, and several small groups of the Oregon coast. Some of his research concerned diverse ethnological matters but much of it focused primarily on the Indian Shaker religion and the potlatch, the latter being the subject of his doctoral dissertation.
In 1939, while he was on the faculty of the University of New Mexico, Barnett served as field director of the Jemez Archeological Field School and was in charge of a project in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. Later in the same year, he joined the faculty of the University of Oregon and has been chiefly identified with that institution since then. In the summer of 1943, however, he participated in a World War II Far Eastern Language and Area Training Program of the University of California at Berkeley. There he helped train voluteer service men in techniques of eliciting cultural information from native informants.
In the following year, he joined the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology and became a researcher associated with the Ethnogeographic Board, the World War II agency formed to provide scientific information about human and natural resources of the world. He served as the executive secretary of the Board's Pacific Survey Project and, later, undertook a War Document Survey concerning the Pacific to determine and advise on the disposition of documents that had been accumulated by the government.
Returning to the University of Oregon after the war, Barnett continued to work with Pacific cultures. He carried out field work in the Palau Islands under the sponsorship of the National Research Council, served as staff anthropologist for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and was a consultant for the government of Netherlands New Guinea. In the 1960s, he directed a program of research among communities of the Pacific displaced because of natural disasters and atomic bomb tests.
In 1939, Dr. Barnett was the director of an archeological excavation in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. The report of this dig is NAA MS 4070. Another paper Barnett wrote, Yakima Indians in 1942 is NAA MS 4867.
Dr. Homer G. Barnett donated this collection to the National Anthropological Archives in 1975.
The Homer Garner Barnett papers are open for research.
Access to the Homer Garner Barnett papers requires an appointment.