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.
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.
History of the American Ethnological Society:
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.
This collection is stored off-site. Advance notice must be given to view the collection.
The American Ethnological Society records are open for research.
Access to the American Ethnological Society records requires an appointment.
Most of Ruth Landes's papers relate directly or indirectly to Landes's American Indian research, her work in Brazil, and her study of bilingualism. There is also a considerable amount of material that relates to her experiences (sometimes fictionalized) at Fisk University. There is only small amount of material related to her other interests. Her collection also has material of and relating to the Brazilian folklorist and journalist Edison Carneiro. There is also noteworthy material concerning Herbert Baldus, Ruth Benedict, Elmer C. Imes, Charles S. Johnson, and Robert E. Park. There is a large amount of printed and processed materials in the collection, mainly in the form of newspaper clippings and a collection of scholarly papers.
Scope and Contents:
This collection is mainly comprised of the professional papers of Ruth Schlossberg Landes. Included are correspondence, journals, published and unpublished manuscripts of writings, research materials including field notes and reading notes, photographs, drawings, scholarly papers and publications by other scholars, and clippings from newspapers and periodicals.
Landes's field research on Candomblé in Brazil is well-represented in this collection, consisting of her field journals, writings, and photographs. Also present are Maggie Wilson's stories that were the basis for Landes's The Ojibwa Woman. Unfortunately, Landes was unable to locate her journals for her early research with the Ojibwa/Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Dakota. There are, however, field photographs of the Ojibwa/Chippewa and Potawatomi in the collection. There is also a great deal of her research on groups, especially minorities, in multilingual states with particular focus on the French of Quebec, Basques of Spain and the United States, Boers and Blacks of South Africa, the several socio-linguistic groups of Switzerland, and Acadians (Cajuns) of Louisiana. In the collection are several drafts of her unpublished manuscript on bilingualism, "Tongues that Defy the State." There is also a small amount of material about Black Jews of New York and considerable material about Landes's experience among African Americans when she taught briefly at Fisk University, including her unpublished manuscript "Now, at Athens," containing fictional and autobiographical accounts of her time at Fisk.
Reflections of other facets of Landes's professional activities are also included. Some materials concern her teaching activities, and there is also documentation of her work with the Fair Employment Practices Commission (a federal government agency during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt) and a similar private organization which immediately succeeded the FEPA; Gunnar Myrdal's research into the plight of African Americans ("The Negro in America"); the Research in Contemporary Cultures project at Columbia University; and the American Jewish Congress.
Among Landes's correspondents are Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Ralph Bunche, Herbert Baldus, Edison Carneiro, Sally Chilver, Frances Densmore, Sol Tax, Elmer S. Imes, Charles S. Johnson, Robert E. Park, and Hendrik W. van der Merwe.
The collection is organized into 6 series: (1) Correspondence, 1931-1991; (2) Research Materials, circa 1930s-1990; (3) Writings, circa 1930s-1990; (4) Teaching Materials, 1935-1975, undated; (5) Biographical and Personal Files, 1928-1988; (6) Graphic Materials, 1933-1978, undated
Ruth Schlossberg Landes was born on October 8, 1908 in New York City. Her father was Joseph Schlossberg, an activist in the Yiddish labor socialist community and one of the founders of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. She studied sociology at New York University (B.A. 1928) and social work at the New York School of Social Work, Columbia University (M.S.W. 1929). While in graduate school, Landes studied Black Jews in Harlem for her master's thesis, a topic that developed her interests in anthropology.
After graduating in 1929, she worked as a social worker in Harlem and married Victor Landes, a medical student and son of family friends. Their marriage ended after two years when she enrolled in the doctoral program in anthropology at Columbia against her husband's wishes. She kept his surname due to the stigma of being a divorced woman.
At Columbia, Landes studied under Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, her main advisor. Under the guidance of Benedict, Landes moved away from further study of African Americans to focus on Native American communities. Upon Benedict's suggestion, Landes studied the social organization of the Ojibwa in Manitou Rapids in Ontario from 1932 to 1936 for her Ph.D. fieldwork. Her dissertation, Ojibwa Sociology, was published in 1937. Landes also contributed "The Ojibwa of Canada" in Cooperation and Competition among Primitive Peoples (1937), a volume edited by Margaret Mead. In 1938, Landes published Ojibwa Women (1938), a book written in collaboration with Maggie Wilson, an Ojibwa interpreter and informant.
In addition to studying the Ojibwa in Ontario, Landes also conducted fieldwork with the Chippewa of Red Lake, Minnesota in 1933, working closely with shaman or midé Will Rogers. Her book, Ojibwa Religion and the Midéwiwin (1968) was based largely on her research with Rogers and Maggie Wilson. In 1935 and 1936, she undertook fieldwork with the Santee Dakota in Minnesota and the Potawatomi in Kansas. Like Ojibwa Religion and the Midéwiwin, her books on the Santee Dakota and Potawatomi were not published until several years later—The Mystic Lake Sioux: Sociology of the Mdewakantonwan Sioux was published in 1968 while The Prairie Potawatomi was published in 1970. In between her field research in the 1930s and the publication of The Prairie Potawatomi, Landes returned to Kansas to study the Potawatomi in the 1950s and 1960s.
Landes's plan to continue her studies with the Potawatomi in 1937 changed when Benedict invited her to join a team of researchers from Columbia University in Brazil. Landes was to conduct research on Afro-Brazilians in Bahia, Brazil, while Walter Lipkind, Buell Quain, and Charles Wagley studied indigenous people in the Amazons. To prepare for her research, Landes was at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937 and 1938 to consult with Robert Park and Donald Pierson and to use the university's library collections of African and African American materials. During that time, Landes also held a teaching position at Fisk and lived in the non-segregated women's residence on campus. Landes later wrote "Now, at Athens," an unpublished memoir containing fictional and true accounts of her experiences at Fisk.
From 1938 to 1939, Landes conducted fieldwork on the role of Afro-Brazilian women and homosexuals in the Candomblé religion in Bahia, Brazil. Unable to move freely by herself in Brazil as a single woman, Landes was accompanied by Edison Carneiro, a Bahian journalist and folklorist. With Carneiro as her companion, Landes was allowed access to rituals and people that would have been closed off to her otherwise. Due to her association with Carneiro, a member of the Brazilian Communist Party, Landes was suspected of being a communist and was forced to leave Bahia early. Publications from her research in Brazil include "A Cult Matriarchate and Male Homosexuality" (1940) and City of Women (1947). She returned to Brazil in 1966 to study the effects of urban development in Rio de Janeiro. In 1967, a Portuguese translation of City of Women was published, a project that Carneiro had commissioned as the first director of the Ministry of Education and Culture's Special National Agency for the Protection of Folklore.
Landes returned to New York in 1939, working briefly as a researcher for Gunnar Myrdal's study of African Americans. Unable to obtain a permanent position at a university, she worked in several other short term positions throughout most of her career. During World War II, Landes was a research director for the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs (1941) and consultant for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practices Committee on African American and Mexican American cases (1941-44). In 1945, Landes directed a program created by Pearl S. Buck and a group of interdenominational clergy to analyze pending New York anti-discrimination legislation. She moved to California the following year to work for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Welfare Council on a study of race and youth gangs. After her contract ended, she moved back to New York and was hired as a contract researcher for the American Jewish Congress (1948-50). She also participated in Columbia University's Research in Contemporary Cultures (1949-51), studying Jewish families. She coauthored with Mark Zborowski, "Hypothesis concerning the Eastern European Jewish Family." From 1951 to 1952, Landes spent a year in London, funded by a Fulbright fellowship to study colored colonial immigrants and race relations in Great Britain.
After her fellowship ended, Landes returned to the United States and held short term appointments at several universities. She taught at the William Alanson White Psychiatric Institution in New York (1953-54), the New School for Social Research in New York (1953-55), University of Kansas (1957, 1964), University of Southern California (1957-62), Columbia University (1963), Los Angeles State College (1963), and Tulane University (1964). At Claremont Graduate School, Landes helped to develop and direct the Claremont Anthropology and Education Program (1959-62).
It was not until 1965 that Landes obtained a permanent faculty position at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario; she was recruited for the position by Richard Slobodin. Due to Ontario's age retirement law, Landes was forced to retire in 1973 at the age of 65. She continued to teach part-time until 1977, when she became professor emerita.
Landes passed away at the age of 82 on February 11, 1991.
Cole, Sally. 2003. Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.
1908 October 8 -- Born Ruth Schlossberg in New York City
1928 -- B.A. in sociology, New York University
1929 -- M.S.W., New York School of Social Work, Columbia University
1929-1931 -- Social worker in Harlem Married to Victor Landes
1929-1934 -- Studied Black Jews in Harlem
1931 -- Began graduate work in anthropology at Columbia University
1932-1936 -- Studied the Ojibwa in Ontario and Minnesota (in field periodically)
1933-1940 -- Research Fellow, Columbia University
1935 Summer-Fall -- Studied the Santee Sioux (Dakota) in Minnesota
1935-1936 -- Studied the Potawatomi in Kansas
1935 -- Ph.D., Columbia University
1937 -- Instructor, Brooklyn College
1937-1938 -- Instructor, Fisk University
1938-1939 -- Studied Afro-Brazilians and Candomblé in Brazil, especially at Bahia
1939 -- Researcher on Gunnar Myrdal's study, "The Negro in America"
1941 -- Research Director, Office of Inter American Affairs, Washington, D.C.
1941-1945 -- Representative for Negro and Mexican American Affairs, Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), President Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration
1944 -- Interim Director, Committee Against Racial Discrimination, New York
1946-1947 -- Researcher, study of Mexican American youth, gangs, and families, Los Angeles Metropolitan Council
1948-1951 -- Researcher, American Jewish Congress, New York
1949-1951 -- Research consultant, study on Jewish families in New York for Research in Contemporary Cultures Project, Columbia University
1951-1952 -- Fulbright Scholar, to study colored colonial immigration into Great Britain
1953-1954 -- Lecturer, William Alanson White Psychiatric Institution, New York
1953-1955 -- Lecturer, New School for Social Research, New York
1956-1957 -- Married to Ignacio Lutero Lopez
1957 Summer -- Visiting Professor, University of Kansas
1957-1958 -- Visiting Professor, University of Southern California
1957-1965 -- Consultant, California agencies (Department of Social Work, Bureau of Mental Hygiene, Department of Education, Public Health Department) and San Francisco Police Department
1958-1959 -- Director, Geriatrics Program, Los Angeles City Health Department
1959-1962 -- Visiting Professor and Director of Anthropology and Education Program, Claremont Graduate School
1962 -- Extension Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Berkeley
1963 -- Extension Lecturer, Columbia University Extension Lecturer, Los Angeles State College
1963-1965 -- Consultant, International Business Machines (IBM)
1964 January-June -- Visiting Professor, Tulane University
1964 Summer -- Field work with Potawatomi in Kansas Professor, University of Kansas
1965-1975 -- Professor at McMaster University
1966 -- Studied urban development in Rio de Janeiro
1968-1975 -- Studied bilingualism and biculturalism in Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, United States, and Canada (in Spain and the United States concentrated on Basques)
1975 -- Became part-time faculty member at McMaster University
1977 -- Professor Emerita, McMaster University
1978 -- Award of Merit from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
1991 February 11 -- Died in Hamilton, Ontario
1991 -- Establishment of the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund at Research Institute for the Study of Man (RISM)
Correspondence from Ruth Landes can be found in the William Duncan Strong Papers, the Leonard Bloomfield Papers, and MS 7369. The Ruth Bunzel Papers contains a copy of a grant application by Landes.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Ruth Landes in 1991.
The Ruth Landes papers are open for research. The nitrate negatives in this collection have been separated from the collection and stored offsite. Access to nitrate negatives is restricted due to preservation concerns.
Access to the Ruth Landes papers requires an appointment.
Interview of Paul Burlin, conducted on December 5-6, 1962, by Dorothy Gees Seckler, for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Burlin speaks of his childhood education in England; working for the magazine Delineator; his education at the National Academy of Design; his travels in the American Southwest; his early exhibitions in New York; his first wife's writings on folk music; visiting Europe before the first World War; discovering Cubism and Fauvism; working on the WPA under the Whitney Museum; joining and then leaving the American Artists' Congress in protest; his thoughts on overtly political art; exhibiting at the Downtown Gallery; his image-making process; and his critique of Pop art. Burlin also recalls James Huneker, Franz Boas, Albert Gleizes, Henri Matisse, Edith Halpert, Georgia O'Keeffe, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Paul Burlin (1886-1969) was a painter in New York, New York.
Originally recorded on 5 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 39 min.
This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
Photographs probably depicting Kwakiutl Indians, including a man in a blanket, a man wearing a bird mask and cedarbark dress, and a woman holding up a cradle or load.
Franz Boas (1858-1942) was a German-American anthropologist and pioneer of modern anthropological practice. He studied physics and geography at the universities at Heidelberg and Bonn before completing a doctoral program in physical geography at Kiel in 1881. After graduation, he joined an expedition of Baffin Island (1883-1884), which influenced his decision to him to focus on cultural tradition rather than biological and physical influences. In 1885, Boas emigrated to the United States, where he took an editorial position with the journal Science and started what would become his most famous ethnographic project, working among the Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw) Indians, in 1886. Boas spent three years teaching at Clark University in Massachusetts, then took an appointment at the Field Museum in Chicago in 1892. Boas then moved to New York, where he joined the American Museum of Natural History (1895-1905) and began teaching at Columbia University in 1896. For 37 years, Boas established himself as an academic and mentored numerous future influential anthropologists, including Margaret Mead, Alfred Kroeber, Edward Sapir, and Zora Neale Hurston. He also served as one of the founders of both the American Anthropological Association and the International Journal of American Linguistics.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot R97-19
Copy prints made by Smithsonian Institution, 1996.
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Additional Boas photographs held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 24.
Northwest Coast Indian legends and vocabularies by Boas held in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 948, MS 1753, and other Numbered Manuscripts.
Correspondence from Boas held in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 4846, MS 4558, MS 1746, MS 4821, American Ethnological Society records, Bureau of American Ethnology records, and collections of personal papers.
The American Philosophical Society holds the Franz Boas Papers.
Donated by Valerie Pinsky, 1996.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo Lot R97-19, Copies of Franz Boas photographs of Kwakiutl Indians, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
8 Prints (halftone (including one newspaper clipping))
124 Prints (circa, silver gelatin, albumen, and platinum)
50 copy prints (circa)
3 copper printing plates
1 color print
1 Print (wood engraving)
3 copy negatives (glass)
Scope and Contents note:
This collection is an artificial collection of photographs, copper plates, and a few notes, all of which depict or relate to anthropologists, many of which were associated with the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Included are portraits of Franz Boas, Q. M. Bond, Arno B. Cammerer, Frank Hamilton Cushing, Edwin Hamilton Davis, J. Woodbridge Davis, Frances Densmore, James Owen Dorsey, Philip Drucker, Jesse Walter Fewkes (including photographs of his home by Frances Densmore), Albert Samuel Gatschet, James A. Geary, De Lancey W. Gill, George Brown Goode, Horatio Hale, Henry Wetherbee Henshaw, John Napoleon Brinton Hewitt, John K. Hillers, William Henry Holmes, William Henry Jackson, Eugene Irving Knez, Alfred Louis Kroeber, Pere Albert Lacomb, Augustus Le Plongeon, James Mooney, Lewis Henry Morgan, Carl Oschsicanes, James Constantine Pilling, John Wesley Powell, Frau Signe Rink, Frank Harold Hanna Roberts, Jr., Charles C. Royce, Robert Lloyd Stephenson, James Stevenson, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, Julian Haynes Steward, Steward Struever, James Gilchrist Swan, John Reed Swanton, Edwin P. Upham, Wilcomb E. Washburn, and Gordon Randolph Willey. Groups depicted include the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1936; the De Soto Commission; officers of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1885; a 1920 expedition group to Hawikuk; staff of the Great Lakes Division, United States Geological Survey, in Salt Lake City, 1882; a group at Moundville, Alabama, 1932; the University of Nebraska archeological field party, 1920; the Pecos conference, 1927; John Wesley Powell with Wild Hank, Kentucky Mountain Bill, and Jesus Aloiso; and the United States Geological Survey staff, ca. 1894.
Among photographers represented are Vernon Orlando Bailey, Blackston Studios of New York, Dana of New York, Frances Densmore, Gene Garrett, C. W. Gilbert, De Lancey W. Gill, John K. Hillers, William H. Jackson, Kets Kemethy, Paul Koby, David McDonough, H. C. Phillips, Rice of Washington, D. C., and J. A. Shuck of El Reno, Oklahoma.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 33
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Four photographs with negatives by Matilda Coxe Stevenson have been relocated to Photo Lot 23.
This collection includes photographs that have been removed from other collections in the National Anthropological Archives, including MS 4970, MS 4851, MS 4780, MS 4250, MS 4751, MS 4516, MS 4860, MS 4695, MS 4970, MS 4558, and Photo Lot 33.
See others in:
Portraits of anthropologists, 1860s-1960s
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Copy prints of photographs held by the American Philosophical Society, National Geographic Society, and National Archives cannot be copied. Copies may be obtained from these repositories.
Photo lot 33, Portraits of anthropologists, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
This is an English translation done for the British Columbia Indian Language Project that was made from Boas's German publication issued in Verhandlungen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte, 1895.
NAA MS 7224
Xerox copy of typescript
Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Küste Amerikas
Material cannot be reproduced without permission of the British Columbia Indian Language Project or the repository for their records.
These papers reflect the professional and personal life of Frederica de Laguna. The collection contains correspondence, field notes, writings, newspaper clippings, writings by others, subject files, sound recordings, photographs, and maps. A significant portion of the collection consists of de Laguna's correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and students, as well as her informants from the field. Her correspondence covers a wide range of subjects such as family, health, preparations for field work, her publications and projects, the Northwest Coast, her opinions on the state of anthropology, and politics. The field notes in the collection mainly represent de Laguna and her assistants' work in the Northern Tlingit region of Alaska from 1949 to 1954. In addition, the collection contains materials related to her work in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario in 1947 and Catherine McClellan's field journal for her research in Aishihik, Yukon Territory in 1968. Most of the audio reels in the collection are field recordings made by de Laguna, McClellan, and Marie-Françoise Guédon of vocabulary and songs and speeches at potlatches and other ceremonies from 1952 to 1969. Tlingit and several Athabaskan languages including Atna, Tutochone, Upper Tanana, and Tanacross are represented in the recordings. Also in the collection are copies of John R. Swanton's Tlingit recordings and Hiroko Hara Sue's recordings among the Hare Indians. Additional materials related to de Laguna's research on the Northwest Coast include her notes on clans and tribes in Series VI: Subject Files and her notes on Tlingit vocabulary and Yakutat names specimens in Series X: Card Files. Drafts and notes for Voyage to Greenland, Travels Among the Dena, and The Tlingit Indians can be found in the collection as well as her drawings for her dissertation and materials related to her work for the Handbook of North American Indians and other publications. There is little material related to Under Mount Saint Elias except for correspondence, photocopies and negatives of plates, and grant applications for the monograph. Of special interest among de Laguna's writings is a photocopy of her historical fiction novel, The Thousand March. Other materials of special interest are copies of her talks, including her AAA presidential address, and the dissertation of Regna Darnell, a former student of de Laguna's. In addition, materials on the history of anthropology are in the collection, most of which can found with her teaching materials. Although the bulk of the collection documents de Laguna's professional years, the collection also contains newspaper articles and letters regarding her exceptional performance as a student at Bryn Mawr College and her undergraduate and graduate report cards. Only a few photographs of de Laguna can be found in the collection along with photographs of her 1929 and 1979 trips to Greenland.
Scope and Contents:
These papers reflect the professional and personal life of Frederica de Laguna. The collection contains correspondence, field notes, writings, newspaper clippings, writings by others, subject files, sound recordings, photographs, and maps.
A significant portion of the collection consists of de Laguna's correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and students, as well as her informants from the field. Her correspondence covers a wide range of subjects such as family, health, preparations for field work, her publications and projects, the Northwest Coast, her opinions on the state of anthropology, and politics. Among her notable correspondents are Kaj Birket-Smith, J. Desmond Clark, Henry Collins, George Foster, Viola Garfield, Marie-Françoise Guédon, Diamond Jenness, Michael Krauss, Therkel Mathiassen, Catharine McClellan, and Wallace Olson. She also corresponded with several eminent anthropologists including Franz Boas, William Fitzhugh, J. Louis Giddings, Emil Haury, June Helm, Melville Herskovitz, Alfred Kroeber, Helge Larsen, Alan Lomax, Margaret Mead, Froelich Rainey, Leslie Spier, Ruth Underhill, James VanStone, Annette Weiner, and Leslie White.
The field notes in the collection mainly represent de Laguna and her assistants' work in the Northern Tlingit region of Alaska from 1949 to 1954. In addition, the collection contains materials related to her work in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario in 1947 and Catharine McClellan's field journal for her research in Aishihik, Yukon Territory in 1968. Most of the audio reels in the collection are field recordings made by de Laguna, McClellan, and Marie-Françoise Guédon of vocabulary and songs and speeches at potlatches and other ceremonies from 1952 to 1969. Tlingit and several Athapaskan languages including Atna, Tutochone, Upper Tanana, and Tanacross are represented in the recordings. Also in the collection are copies of John R. Swanton's Tlingit recordings and Hiroko Hara's recordings among the Hare Indians. Additional materials related to de Laguna's research on the Northwest Coast include her notes on clans and tribes in Series VI: Subject Files and her notes on Tlingit vocabulary and Yakutat names specimens in Series 10: Card Files.
Drafts and notes for Voyage to Greenland, Travels Among the Dena, and The Tlingit Indians can be found in the collection as well as her drawings for her dissertation and materials related to her work for the Handbook of North American Indians and other publications. There is little material related to Under Mount Saint Elias except for correspondence, photocopies and negatives of plates, and grant applications for the monograph. Of special interest among de Laguna's writings is a photocopy of her historical fiction novel, The Thousand March.
Other materials of special interest are copies of her talks, including her AAA presidential address, and the dissertation of Regna Darnell, a former student of de Laguna's. In addition, materials on the history of anthropology are in the collection, most of which can found with her teaching materials. The collection also contains copies of photographs from the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899. Although the bulk of the collection documents de Laguna's professional years, the collection also contains newspaper articles and letters regarding her exceptional performance as a student at Bryn Mawr College and her undergraduate and graduate report cards. Only a few photographs of de Laguna can be found in the collection along with photographs of her 1929 and 1979 trips to Greenland.
Frederica Annis Lopez de Leo de Laguna was a pioneering archaeologist and ethnographer of northwestern North America. Known as Freddy by her friends, she was one of the last students of Franz Boas. She served as first vice-president of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) from 1949 to 1950 and as president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) from 1966-1967. She also founded the anthropology department at Bryn Mawr College where she taught from 1938 to 1972. In 1975, she and Margaret Mead, a former classmate, were the first women to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Born on October 3, 1906 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, de Laguna was the daughter of Theodore Lopez de Leo de Laguna and Grace Mead Andrus, both philosophy professors at Bryn Mawr College. Often sick as a child, de Laguna was home-schooled by her parents until she was 9. She excelled as a student at Bryn Mawr College, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in politics and economics in 1927. She was awarded the college's prestigious European fellowship, which upon the suggestion of her parents, she deferred for a year to study anthropology at Columbia University under Boas. Her parents had recently attended a lecture given by Boas and felt that anthropology would unite her interests in the social sciences and her love for the outdoors.
After a year studying at Columbia with Boas, Gladys Reichard, and Ruth Benedict, de Laguna was still uncertain whether anthropology was the field for her. Nevertheless, she followed Boas's advice to spend her year abroad studying the connection between Eskimo and Paleolithic art, which would later became the topic of her dissertation. In the summer of 1928, she gained fieldwork experience under George Grant MacCurdy visiting prehistoric sites in England, France, and Spain. In Paris, she attended lectures on prehistoric art by Abbe Breuil and received guidance from Paul Rivet and Marcelin Boule. Engaged to an Englishman she had met at Columbia University, de Laguna decided to also enroll at the London School of Economics in case she needed to earn her degree there. She took a seminar with Bronislaw Malinowski, an experience she found unpleasant and disappointing.
It was de Laguna's visit to the National Museum in Copenhagen to examine the archaeological collections from Central Eskimo that became the turning point in her life. During her visit, she met Therkel Mathiassen who invited her to be his assistant on what would be the first scientific archaeological excavation in Greenland. She sailed off with him in June 1929, intending to return early in August. Instead, she decided to stay until October to finish the excavation with Mathiassen, now convinced that her future lay in anthropology. When she returned from Greenland she broke off her engagement with her fiancé, deciding that she would not able to both fully pursue a career in anthropology and be the sort of wife she felt he deserved. Her experiences in Greenland became the subject of her 1977 memoir, Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology.
The following year, Kaj Birket-Smith, whom de Laguna had also met in Copenhagen, agreed to let her accompany him as his research assistant on his summer expedition to Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. When Birket-Smith fell ill and was unable to go, de Laguna was determined to continue on with the trip. She convinced the University of Pennsylvania Museum to fund her trip to Alaska to survey potential excavation sites and took as her assistant her 20 year old brother, Wallace, who became a geologist. A close family, de Laguna's brother and mother would later accompany her on other research trips.
In 1931, the University of Pennsylvania Museum hired de Laguna to catalogue Eskimo collections. They again financed her work in Cook Inlet that year as well as the following year. In 1933, she earned her PhD from Columbia and led an archaeological and ethnological expedition of the Prince William Sound with Birket-Smith. They coauthored "The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska," published in 1938. In 1935, de Laguna led an archaeological and geological reconnaissance of middle and lower Yukon Valley, traveling down the Tanana River. Several decades later, the 1935 trip contributed to two of her books: Travels Among the Dena, published in 1994, and Tales From the Dena, published in 1997.
In 1935 and 1936, de Laguna worked briefly as an Associate Soil Conservationist, surveying economic and social conditions on the Pima Indian Reservation in Arizona. She later returned to Arizona during the summers to conduct research and in 1941, led a summer archaeological field school under the sponsorship of Bryn Mawr College and the Museum of Northern Arizona.
By this time, de Laguna had already published several academic articles and was also the author of three fiction books. Published in 1930, The Thousand March: Adventures of an American Boy with the Garibaldi was her historical fiction book for juveniles. She also wrote two detective novels: The Arrow Points to Murder (1937) and Fog on the Mountain (1938). The Arrow Points to Murder is set in a museum based on her experiences at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the American Museum of National History. Fog on the Mountain is set in Cook Inlet and draws upon de Laguna's experiences in Alaska. Both detective novels helped to finance her research.
De Laguna began her long career at Bryn Mawr College in 1938 when she was hired as a lecturer in the sociology department to teach the first ever anthropology course at the college. By 1950, she was chairman of the joint department of Sociology and Anthropology, and in 1967, the chairman of the newly independent Anthropology Department. She was also a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania (1947-1949; 1972-1976) and at the University of California, Berkeley (1959-1960; 1972-1973.)
During World War II, de Laguna took a leave of absence from Bryn Mawr College to serve in the naval reserve from 1942 to 1945. As a member of WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), she taught naval history and codes and ciphers to women midshipmen at Smith College. She took great pride in her naval service and in her later years joined the local chapter of WAVES National, an organization for former and current members of WAVES.
In 1950, de Laguna returned to Alaska to work in the Northern Tlingit region. Her ethnological and archaeological study of the Tlingit Indians brought her back several more times throughout the 1950s and led to the publication of Under Mount Saint Elias in 1972. Her comprehensive three-volume monograph is still considered the authoritative work on the Yakutat Tlingit. In 1954, de Laguna turned her focus to the Atna Indians of Copper River, returning to the area in 1958, 1960, and 1968.
De Laguna retired from Bryn Mawr College in 1972 under the college's mandatory retirement policy. Although she suffered from many ailments in her later years including macular degeneration, she remained professionally active. Five decades after her first visit to Greenland, de Laguna returned to Upernavik in 1979 to conduct ethnographic investigations. In 1985, she finished editing George Thornton Emmons' unpublished manuscript The Tlingit Indians. A project she had begun in 1955, the book was finally published in 1991. In 1986, she served as a volunteer consultant archaeologist and ethnologist for the U. S. Forest Service in Alaska. In 1994, she took part in "More than Words . . ." Laura Bliss Spann's documentary on the last Eyak speaker, Maggie Smith Jones. By 2001, de Laguna was legally blind. Nevertheless, she continued working on several projects and established the Frederica de Laguna Northern Books Press to reprint out-of-print literature and publish new scholarly works on Arctic cultures.
Over her lifetime, de Laguna received several honors including her election into the National Academy Sciences in 1976, the Distinguished Service Award from AAA in 1986, and the Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. De Laguna's work, however, was respected by not only her colleagues but also by the people she studied. In 1996, the people of Yakutat honored de Laguna with a potlatch. Her return to Yakutat was filmed by Laura Bliss Spann in her documentary Reunion at Mt St. Elias: The Return of Frederica de Laguna to Yakutat.
At the age of 98, Frederica de Laguna passed away on October 6, 2004.
Darnell, Regna. "Frederica de Laguna (1906-2004)." American Anthropologist 107.3 (2005): 554-556.
de Laguna, Frederica. Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology. New York: W.W. Norton Co, 1977.
McClellan, Catharine. "Frederica de Laguna and the Pleasures of Anthropology." American Ethnologist 16.4 (1989): 766-785.
Olson, Wallace M. "Obituary: Frederica de Laguna (1906-2004)." Arctic 58.1 (2005): 89-90.
Although this collection contains a great deal of correspondence associated with her service as president of AAA, most of her presidential records can be found in American Anthropological Association Records 1917-1972. Also at the National Anthropological Archives are her transcripts of songs sung by Yakutat Tlingit recorded in 1952 and 1954 located in MS 7056 and her notes and drawings of Dorset culture materials in the National Museum of Canada located in MS 7265. The Human Studies Film Archive has a video oral history of de Laguna conducted by Norman Markel (SC-89.10.4).
Related collections can also be found in other repositories. The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania holds materials related to work that de Laguna carried out for the museum from the 1930s to the 1960s. Materials relating to her fieldwork in Angoon and Yakutat can be found in the Rasmuson Library of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the papers of Francis A. Riddell, a field assistant to de Laguna in the early 1950s. Original photographs taken in the field in Alaska were deposited in the Alaska State Library, Juneau. Both the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress and the American Philosophical Library have copies of her field recordings and notes. The American Museum of Natural History has materials related to her work editing George T. Emmons' manuscript. De Laguna's papers can also be found at the Bryn Mawr College Archives.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Frederica de Laguna.
Some of the original field notes are restricted due to Frederica de Laguna's request to protect the privacy of those accused of witchcraft. The originals are restricted until 2030. Photocopies may be made with the names of the accused redacted.