The records of the American Ethnological Society (AES) document its activities from its founding in 1842 through the mid-1960s. The American Ethnological Society is the oldest anthropological association in America. It has been interested in publishing and promoting study of different cultures in the Americas from its founding in 1842 to the present. Materials include correspondence, reports, and financial records relating to the administrative functions of the organization.
Scope and Contents:
The records of the American Ethnological Society (AES) document its activities from its founding in 1842 through the mid-1960s.
The early years of the AES (1840s to 1880) are documented through correspondence, newspaper clippings, and proceedings. The bulk of the collection relates to the administrative functions of the AES from its reorganization in 1906 through 1965 including changes to the constitution and the elections of officers. The offices of Secretary-Treasurer and Editor are well documented through correspondence and reports. There is also a significant amount of correspondence to and from members, financial records, and information on the AES‟ interactions with other organizations such as the American Anthropological Association and the New York Academy of Sciences.
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 As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today.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 material is arranged in the following series: (1) Early records, 1834-1886; (2) AES Meetings, 1910-1964; (3) Reports of the officers, 1925-1964; (4) Election records: Officer lists, constitutions, and amendments, 1917-1959; (5) Office correspondence, 1924-1956; (6) Membership records, 1862-1960; (6) Publication records, 1934-1962; (7) Financial records, 1902-1962; (8) Miscellany, 1860-1957.
The American Ethnological Society is the oldest anthropological association in America. It has been interested in publishing and promoting study of different cultures in the Americas from its founding in 1842 to the present.
The American Ethnological Society was founded in 1842 by Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and founder of New York University. Early members were doctors, lawyers, businessmen and included Henry Schoolcraft, William Prescott and Theodore Dwight. Meetings were usually held at the home of the President and accounts of missionaries and explorers, who were "corresponding" members, were read. Local papers frequently covered these meetings. The Society published three periodicals in its early years including Transactions which first appeared in 1845. Interest in the Society declined after the Civil War. In 1906 a group of professional anthropologists led by Franz Boas joined the Society and reorganized it, adding the Office of Editor. Since then, the Society has been very active and has had a strong publications program, beginning with a linguistic series begun by Franz Boas. The Society holds annual meetings, usually in the spring at which prominent anthropologists present their findings. In addition to Franz Boas, the Society has included among its members such famous anthropologists as Ruth Benedict, E. Adamson Hoebel, Margaret Mead and Ward Goodenough.
The treasurer's records dating from 1916 to 1924 were transferred to the archives by the American Museum of Natural History. All other records came to the archives from the American Ethnological Society.
The American Ethnological Society records are open for research.
Access to the American Ethnological Society records requires an appointment. Advance notice must be given to view materials stored off-site.