May Mandelbaum Edel (1909-1964) taught anthropology at Brooklyn College and the New School for Social Research, and founded the Anthropology Department at Rutgers University in 1960. She conducted fieldwork in Washington; Oregon; Uganda; and Brownsville, New York. The collection consists of field notes, lecture notes, language notes, manuscripts, books, correspondence, teaching materials, conference files, and personal papers. Included are lecture notes taken from courses with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, and extensive field notes for her work with the Okanagan Indians in Washington, the Bachiga (Bakiga) in Uganda, and Jewish families in Brownsville, New York.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of May Mandelbaum Edel document her student and professional career as an anthropologist. The collection consists of field notes, lecture notes, language notes, manuscripts, books, correspondence, teaching materials, conference files, and personal papers. Some of Edel's lecture notes reflect courses taken with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. The language notes include vocabulary lists, and are for Bullom, and possibly Salish and Tillamook. There are also extensive field notes for her work with the Okanagan in Washington, the Chiga in Uganda, and Jewish families in Brownsville, New York. Writings include annotated drafts of manuscripts on the Chiga of Uganda as well as an annotated draft of her book The Story of People. Correspondence includes letters from Franz Boas and Ernest B. Kalibala. Also included is correspondence for Abraham Edel regarding Edel's published works and the donation of her papers.
This collection is arranged in 7 series:
Series 1: Research, circa 1930s - circa 1960s;
Series 2: Writings, 1933-1995;
Series 3: Writings By Others circa 1920s-1966;
Series 4: Personal Files, circa 1950s-1967;
Series 5: Student Files, 1928-1935;
Series 6: Correspondence, 1932-1996, undated;
Series 7: Professional Files, 1929-1963;
May Mandelbaum Edel was born on December 1, 1909 in New York. As a student at Barnard College, she took graduate anthropology classes at Columbia University under Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. She continued her graduate studies at Columbia University and was awarded her Ph.D. in 1940. Her first fieldwork experience was with the Okanagan in 1930, and in the following year she conducted linguistic research among the Tillamook. As a fellow of the National Research Council, she traveled to Western Uganda in 1932 and stayed in the village of Bufuka (with the Bachiga people) where she did ethnographic work. In 1934 she married philosopher Abraham Edel, whom she would later collaborate with on the book Anthropology and Ethics. She taught anthropology at Brooklyn College and at the New School for Social Research, and in 1960, founded the Anthropology Department at Rutgers University. May Mandelbaum Edel passed away on May 23, 1964 at the age of 54.
1909 -- Born on December 1 in New York
1929 -- B.A. from Barnard College
1930 -- Field research in Washington among the Okanagan
1931 -- Field research in Oregon among the Tillamook
1932 -- Field research among the Chiga in Uganda
1934 -- Married Abraham Edel
1940 -- Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University
1947 -- Field research among Jewish families in Brownsville, New York
1956 -- Professor, New School for Social Research
1960 -- Founded the Anthropology Department at Rutgers University
1964 -- Died of illness on May 23
The Bullom and Kru materials complement three tape recordings, apparently of these same individuals, and said to have been "collected by Franz Boas," that are deposited in the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by May Mandelbaum Edel's daughter, Deborah Edel, in 2005.
The May Mandelbaum Edel papers are open for research.