The collection is composed of photographs and copies of published illustrations which were collected for use in the Handbook of South American Indians (Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143). These include images of South American Indians, their artifacts, and their built and natural environments. There are also maps detailing the movements and location of various tribes. Also included are some original photographs that were probably made by Alfred Metraux and documenting Aymara, Chaco, Chane, Matako, Pilaga, and Toba people and artifacts.
In 1932, the National Research Council appointed a committee of anthropologists, including Robert H. Lowie, John M. Cooper, and Leslie Spier, to assess what work would be needed to prepare a comprehensive Handbook of South American Indians. The handbook's main objective would be to "provide a concise summary of existing data that will serve as a standard reference work for the scholar, a textbook for the student, and a guide to the general reader. At the same time, it is intended to take stock of the present state of knowledge, revealing its deficiencies and suggesting problems that will stimulate future research in both the field and library." In 1940, the Bureau of American Ethnology accepted the task of compiling the handbook under special appropriation through the Department of State and with the collaboration of over 100 scientists across the American continents. The result of this work was BAE Bulletin 143; six volumes were published in 1946-1950 and an index was published in 1959.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 90
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Copies of photographs published in BAE Bulletin 143, which were previously filed in Photo Lot 14, have been relocated and merged with Photo Lot 90. Materials associated with the relocation are available with the collection.
The National Anthropological Archives holds additional collections of illustrations for BAE bulletins in MS 3611, MS 3279, MS 3715-b, MS 3078, Photo Lot 80-39, MS 2894, MS 3251, Photo Lot R87-2Q, and Photo lot 133.
Additional materials relating to Aldred Metraux's work in South America are held in the Institute of Social Anthropology photographs (MS 4623) and the Handbook of South American Indians Records.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo lot 90, Bureau of American Ethnology photograph collection relating to the Handbook of South American Indians, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution