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Catalog Data

Harrington, John Peabody 1884-1961  Search this
Steward, Julian Haynes 1902-1972  Search this
Mason, John Alden 1885-1967  Search this
Farfán, José M. B  Search this
Physical description:
18 boxes
Indians of South America  Search this
Aymara Indians  Search this
Bora Indians  Search this
Campa Indians  Search this
Cocama Indians  Search this
Guarani Indians  Search this
Shuar Indians  Search this
Kaingang Indians  Search this
Mataco Indians  Search this
Otomi Indians  Search this
Quechua Indians  Search this
Puquina Indians  Search this
Uru Indians  Search this
Witoto Indians  Search this
Yagua Indians  Search this
Yunca Indians  Search this
Zaparo Indians  Search this
Field notes
Microfilm and digital surrogates of microfilm are available. See Volume 7, reels 27-35. Only original documents created by Harrington, his coworkers and field assistants, or field notes given to him by others were microfilmed.
Harrington's earliest work in the field of South American languages resulted in a paper which he coauthored with Luis E. Valcarcel, director of the Museo Nacional in Lima, Peru. Correspondence indicates that the two men met during a visit which Valcarcel made to Washington in March 1941. By April 6 Harrington had already drafted a manuscript of the article "Quichua Phonetics. A Shortcut to the Scientific Writing of the Language of the Incas of Peru," which he then forwarded to Valcarcel in New York City for translation. In July Harrington rewrote the paper in English and sent it to Peru for publication.
In early 1943 Harrington was called back from the field to B.A.E. headquarters in Washington, D.C. Among his official duties at the bureau was the examination of data for the linguistic sections of the "Handbook of South American Indians." The bureau had accepted responsibility for preparing the handbook and had begun work on it in 1940 under the editorship of Julian H. Steward. J. Alden Mason of the University Museum in Philadelphia was given the task of "classifying and tabulating the languages of South America." As it was possible for Mason to make only a few independent studies of these languages himself, he relied on the assistance of scholars such as Harrington to provide information to him through correspondence. He inserted a number of Harrington's findings into his final report as notes.
For the most part Harrington's method entailed examining secondary sources, extracting and compiling linguistic and morphological data from them, and comparing these data for various languages with a view to establishing linguistic affiliations. He also had limited opportunities to obtain first-hand information from native speakers of Guarani, Quechua, and Otomi and from a non-native speaker of Jivaro.
In May 1943 Harrington undertook an extensive study of the Jivaro language. The vocabulary which he compiled and reheard was used for comparison with that of the Zaparo language. During the same year Harrington examined data on Campa and Witoto and compiled working vocabularies (which he called "springboards") for Cocama and Quechua. He also found preliminary evidence of the interrelationships of several groups of languages. He felt that Miranya was related to Tupi-Guarani, that Uru-Puquina should be grouped with Arawakan, and that Aymara should be assigned to the Hokan family. He also published "Hokan Discovered in South America," a discussion of the affinity of Quechua with Hokan in terms of phonetics, morphology, and vocabulary. Comparisons were drawn from a number of Hokan languages of North and Central America: Chimariko, Choctaw, Salinan, and Subtiaba, several of which Harrington had studied at earlier periods.
Harrington reported "winding up" a comparison of Witoto, Miranya, and Guarani in January 1944. By April he had undertaken a study of Cholon, finished a paper on Witoto ("Sobre fonetico Witoto"), and was at work on an article on Zaparo. He also prepared "a long screed on Yunca" which was later published as "Yunka, Language of the Peruvian Coastal Culture."
During the 1944-1945 fiscal year, Harrington proceeded to work on Guarani and Quechua, which he described as "the Indian languages of South America." He made use of a publication by Dr. Bertoni with whom he met briefly. In addition, he published three papers relating to Quechua: "Earliest Navajo and Quechua," "La lengua Aynlara, hermana mayor de la Quichua," and "Quechua Grammarlet."
Harrington continued to work intermittently on South American languages for the next several years. At the end of fiscal year 1947-1948 he submitted a large report on Guarani, which held official status with Spanish in Paraguay, as well as a smaller paper on Mataco which was published under the title "Matako of the Gran Chaco." He also wrote another piece on the phonetics of Quechua.
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).
Addl. KW Subjects:
This subseries of the Mexico/Central America/South America series contains Harrington's records relating to South American languages. His research covered the following languages: Awishira, Aymara, Campa, Cholon, Cocama, Guarani, Jivaro, Kaingang, Mataco, Miranya, Otomi, Quechua, Uru-Puquina, Witoto, Yagua, Yunca, and Zaparo.
Harrington's records relating to Quechua are the most extensive set he compiled on a South American language. The first section of notes, labeled "Quechua Springboard," is a semantically arranged file consisting of lexical items extracted from Ernst W. Middendorf's Quechua dictionary. Harrington copied his entire dictionary, one item per page, in order to have a basic vocabulary for comparison with other languages of the region. The remainder of Harrington's Quechua records have to do with articles which he was preparing for publication. These include notes and drafts for the papers on Quechua phonetics and grammar that he coauthored with Valcarcel, a paper titled "Hokan Discovered in South America," and a review of "Poesia Folklorica Quechua" by J. M. B. Farfan.
Harrington's Witoto files also form a large section of this subseries. Materials include files of data for analysis as well as drafts of several papers. The first paper, titled "The Sounds of Witoto," is a brief undated article referring to the work of Preuss. Included are a two-page final version, a one-page carbon of a variant version, a two-page carbon of a Spanish translation, and a page of miscellaneous notes on phonetics. There are notes and rough drafts for articles on Witoto, Miranya, and Cocama. The highly unorganized records include excerpts from Harrington's "Cocama Grammarlet" and personal communications with Julian Steward and J. Alden Mason. There is also a comparative vocabulary of Witoto, Miranya, and Cocama. This so-called "analphabetikon" includes notes arranged under numerous semantic headings: age, rank, kinship, plants, animals, material culture, etc. This file was used in preparing vocabulary lists for inclusion in Harrington's second large paper on Witoto.
Harrington prepared at least four papers on Jivaro (abbreviated "Jiv."), a language which he felt was a "very divergent type of Arawakan." While most other linguists gave it an independent status, he felt that the resemblances with Arawak were genetic. The first article, "Jibaro Epitome," consists of a review of Juan Ghinassi's grammar (1938). The file continues with notes and drafts of "The Jivaro Language." Harrington presents ethnological data of the Jivaro by way of introduction and proceeds to give an outline of the language. A draft of a third paper, "Vocabulary of the Jivaro Language," actually consists of a working copy of a Jivaro vocabulary. The title page, labeled "Jivaro Spingboard" lists the dictionary by Ghinassi (Gh. or Ghin.) as the major source of the semantically arranged vocabulary. The file concludes with notes and a draft for the article "The Jivaro Indians."
The materials which Harrington compiled on the Miranya language are fairly extensive. The files begin with a comparative vocabulary organized in what he termed a "loose-leaf system." Miranya terms, as well as Witoto, Guarani, Cocama, and Arawak forms, are arranged in a number of standard semantic and grammatical categories. Extracts were taken from the works of Adam, Farabee, Kinder, Preuss, Rivet, Ruiz de Montoya, Tessman, and Whiffen. There are also three separate sections labeled "Farabee M. Voc.," "Tessman M. Voc.," and "Whiffen M. Voc." in which lexical items from these sources are listed, one word per page. Writings based on Harrington's study of the secondary sources follow. The file concludes with a short draft by Mason of a write-upon Miranya for "The Languages of the South American Indians" and a letter from Harrington to Steward dated April 4, 1943. Enclosed with the letter are pages one to four of a paper and pages 10 and 11 of a bibliography. They deal with a review of the problem of assigning Miranya to a larger linguistic stock.
The remaining materials on the other South American languages consist of notes from secondary sources, drafts of papers, and some correspondence. His notes on Otomi include field notes recorded by Harrington from Pablo Galicia, a native of San Juan Tutxtepec, interviewed in Xochimilco, Mexico in 1951. The miscellaneous notes section contains materials of a more general nature and include notes from conversations Harrington had with Mason and Steward. There are also notes on various South American languages with subsections on: Awishira (Abishira), Aymara, Arawakan, Campa, Chipaya, Cholon, Fitita, Guaranian, Mataco, Miranya, Okaina, Quechua, Resigaro, Tupi, Uru-Puquina, Witoto, Yunca, and Zaparo. Harrington's notes include general observations, bibliographic references, extracts from secondary sources, and partial drafts of papers. Of particular interest is an item filed under Quechua: a letter to Julian Steward from J. M. B. Farfan, dated July 9, 1943, enclosing a list of one hundred basic words in Quechua. The last four files of miscellany consist of drafts of various writings.
Cite as:
Mexico/Central America/South America: South American languages, John Peabody Harrington papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.:
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland
Language and languages--Documentation  Search this
Indians of South America--Languages  Search this
Aymara language  Search this
Bora language  Search this
Campa language  Search this
Cholon language  Search this
Cocama language  Search this
Guarani language  Search this
Shuar language  Search this
Kaingang language  Search this
Mataco language  Search this
Otomi language  Search this
Quechua language  Search this
Puquina language  Search this
Uru language  Search this
Witoto language  Search this
Yagua language  Search this
Yunca language  Search this
Zaparo language  Search this
Linguistics  Search this
Phonetics  Search this
Grammar, Comparative and general  Search this
Local number:
Accession #1976-95
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John Peabody Harrington papers: Mexico/Central America/South America, circa 1907-1960
Data Source:
National Anthropological Archives