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Catalog Data

Harrington, John Peabody 1884-1961  Search this
Gates, William 1863-1940  Search this
Physical description:
12 boxes
Quiché Indians  Search this
Indians of Central America Guatemala  Search this
Field notes
Microfilm and digital surrogates of microfilm are available. See Volume 7, reels 8-12. Only original documents created by Harrington, his coworkers and field assistants, or field notes given to him by others were microfilmed.
For approximately eighteen days from late November to mid-December 1922, Harrington interviewed Cipriano Alvaredo (abbreviated "Cip."), a native of Guatemala. This study was undertaken with the close cooperation of William Gates, founder of The Maya Society, at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gates had brought the "peasant farmer" to the United States the preceding July and prepared for their joint sessions by reviewing Domingo Basseta's Vocabulario de lengua quiche with Alvaredo shortly before Harrington's arrival.
Together they reexamined the dictionary, word by word with Harrington recording Alvaredo's commentary in phonetic script. Alvaredo then dictated the entire "Popul Vuh" (P.V.), a Quiche text which deals with the mythology and historical traditions of the ancient Maya tribe. They also recorded some seventy pages of another native text, the "Annals of Cakchiquel." In addition, some grammatical work was undertaken based on Brasseur de Bourbourg's Grammaire de la langue quichee.
Four days were spent making phonetic tracings on the Rousselot kymograph, which Harrington had brought with him. Under the direction of Professor Charles A. Hoxie of the General Electric Company, pitch studies were made using the pallophotophone, an instrument which records vibrations on film. A series of motion pictures was also taken.
Harrington had intermittent plans to return to his early study of Quiche. In 1937 and 1938 he proposed that Edgar L. Hewett publish a new edition of the "Popul Vuh" text to be coauthored by himself and Robert W. Young. In 1943, 1944, and 1947 he corresponded with Dr. Henry McComas, brother-in-law of William Gates; Edward Brown Allen; and M. Wells Jakeman of Brigham Young University regarding publication of the text, this time in mimeograph format. None of these proposals resulted in the preparation of a new manuscript. It appears that all publication plans were abandoned for lack of funds.
Electronic inventory available. Consult with archivist. For a comprehensive description of these materials, see "The papers of John Peabody Harrington in the Smithsonian Institution, 1907-1957, Volume 7: A guide to the field notes: Native American history, language, and culture of Mexico/Central America/South America," edited by Elaine L. Mills (1988).
This subseries of the Mexico/Central America/South America series contains Harrington's Quiche research. The materials consist of linguistic notes, documents from the files of William Gates, grammar, records relating to the "Popul Vuh," and miscellaneous notes.
The linguistic notes contains material elicited from Cipriano Alvaredo. The contents include Quiche (Q.) vocabulary as well as phrases and short texts, including a Quiche poem. Some terms were evidently elicited as a rehearing of Cakchiquel words (labeled "Cak.") excerpted from Brinton's published version of the "Annals of Cakchiquel" and lexical items extracted from Brasseur de Bourbourg's version of the "Popul Vuh." There is extensive commentary on the phonetics of the language, much of which makes reference to kymograph tracings (abbreviated "Tr.;" see "Documents from the Files of William Gates," Items 1 and 2), to the alphabet pronounced into the pallophotophone, and to vowels pronounced for the motion picture footage. Many notes deal with regressive assimilation and diphthongs. Pages 21 to 24 contain notes in the hand of William Gates and sheets 58 and 59 provide a summary by him of the work which he undertook with Harrington and Alvaredo. Also included are a few miscellaneous notes on early English and the science of language. A portion of the notes, dated December 24, 1922 and labeled "Esselen," may be a rehearing of the Esselen vocabulary compiled and published by A. L. Kroeber. It is not clear whether Harrington was utilizing this source merely as an aid to elicitation or for comparative purposes.
The files of William Gates is comprised of numbered documents based on the work which Gates undertook with Harrington and Alvaredo. Each subsection is preceded by an index card drafted by Gates. Section 1, consisting of twelve pages of kymographic tracings of Quiche words, is followed by 210 pages of photostatic copies of mounted tracings, which are arranged in book form. These are followed by India ink copies of the tracings. Part 3 contains field notes recorded by Harrington; some of these notes duplicate material filed under "Linguistic Notes." Section 4 is a bound checklist (nineteen pages) by Gates of kymographic cylinders made at Auburn Hill. Section 5 is a bound typescript (220 pages) of Vocabulario de lengua quiche, by Domingo Basseta. Gates recorded commentary which he obtained from Alvaredo in the margins in pencil. He recorded any annotations provided by Harrington in ink and labeled them "JPH." A related typescript, labeled as item 6, presents Harrington's transcription of the Basseta vocabulary. There is no item number 7. Section 8 is a five-page typed carbon of an article by Gates titled "Modern Linguistic Apparatus." It includes a discussion of the work undertaken with Harrington and Alvaredo using the kymograph and the pallophotophone. Additional notes on the second device are filed as item 9. Also in Gates' hand is a "list of words for study of accent," classified as item 10. Sections 11 and 12 consist of correspondence. The first concerns work with Alvaredo on the kymograph and the pallophotophone. The second contains letters exchanged between Alvaredo and Gates in Quiche, Spanish, and English. The final numbered section, part 13, includes photographs and a newspaper article from the Washington Star, January 1923. Also from Gates' files are several unnumbered items: a letter to Harrington from E. B. Allen regarding a plan to publish Maya material; notes on phonetics, presumably taken from a notebook by Gates, and interleaved with heading sheets by Harrington; and a brochure on the Gates Collection which was to be put up for sale in New York.
Grammatical notes on the Quiche language are arranged in four sections. The first part consists of a draft of a grammar under the heading "Quiche Grammar and Restored Popul Yuh Text wIth Translation." Material on hand includes notes and an outline for the proposed paper, interspersed with slips from Harrington's early fieldwork. Topics covered encompass phonetics, interjections, verbs, numerals, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. A great deal of data were excerpted from the works of Brasseur de Bourbourg (abbreviated "Bras.") and Basseta, as well as from the Diccionario cakchiquel-espanol (abbreviated "Cak-dict."), compiled by Carmelo Saenz de Santa Maria. A second rough draft for a grammar of Quiche comprises the second section. A typed manuscript of 421 pages (former B.A.E. ms. 4781) titled "Quiche Grammar" was submitted to the bureau on March 25, 1948. Although it was prepared for publication as B.A.E. Bulletin 167, it was never released by the editor's office. This version of the grammar consists of textual descriptions and illustrative examples covering phonetics and morphology. A selection from the first part of the "Popul Vuh" is appended at the end of the grammar. Interlinear translations and notes accompany the native text. The two remaining sections of grammatical material consist of slipfiles, which Harrington compiled during the course of his fieldwork in 1922. The first set of slips, labeled "Quiche appendix -not yet put into typewriting," was to be the source of the semantic vocabulary for the first draft of the grammar. The second group, termed by Harrington "Rejects 1947 & Jan. 1948," constitutes the residue of his files after he had removed all slips which he intended to use in the body of his grammar or the appendix.
Harrington considered the "Popul Vuh" to be "the most remarkable manuscript survival . . . from ancient times in all the Maya area." The records he accumulated which relate to this literary work are of several types. The first is a file of a 491-page transcription of the text as dictated by Cipriano Alvaredo in December 1922. It contains occasional interlinear translations in a mixture of Spanish and English with some annotations on orthography. A second set of notes consists of copies of the text which Harrington and his associate John T. Linkins made from January to March in 1948. Quiche, French, and Spanish versions of the text are interfiled: they continue only through chapter five. The Quiche text and French translation were extracted from Brasseur de Bourbourg and the two Spanish translations and some additional notes from Adrian Recinos and Villacorta and Rodas. Related documents include commentary from Brasseur de Bourbourg and Villacorta and Rodas which was not incorporated into the previous file. There are also miscellaneous notes on various secondary sources.
The remaining material in this subseries include a typed vocabulary from an unidentified written source, excerpts from Aleman's Quiche grammar, and notes on a meeting which Harrington had with William Gates on September 13, 1935.
Cite as:
Mexico/Central America/South America: Quiche, John Peabody Harrington papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.:
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland
Quiché language  Search this
Cakchikel language  Search this
Esselen language  Search this
Mayan languages  Search this
Language and languages--Documentation  Search this
Linguistics  Search this
Phonetics  Search this
Local number:
Accession #1976-95
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John Peabody Harrington papers: Mexico/Central America/South America, circa 1907-1960
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National Anthropological Archives