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Robert Moody Laughlin papers

Creator:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Extent:
39 videocassettes (vhs)
1 videocassettes (betamax)
20 cd-rs
6 electronic discs (dvd)
65.09 Linear feet
50 floppy discs
147 sound recordings
Culture:
Tzotzil  Search this
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Videocassettes (vhs)
Videocassettes (betamax)
Cd-rs
Electronic discs (dvd)
Floppy discs
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Audiotapes
Paper tapes
Photographs
Vocabulary
Manuscripts
Date:
1899-2016, bulk 1954-2016
Summary:
Robert Moody Laughlin was an American ethnologist specializing in the study of Mayan language, history, customs, and folklore. He spent the majority of his career working for the Smithsonian Institution, first with the Bureau of American Ethnology, then with the Department of Anthropology. He was a curator emeritus with the department from his retirement in 2006 until his death in 2020.

The Robert Moody Laughlin papers (1899-2016, bulk 1954-2016) document his research and professional activities and primarily deal with language and folktales he recorded and studied, as well as the culture and history of the Tzotzil and other Mayan groups in the Chiapas region. His involvement in language education and training, advocacy for the Tzotzil and language and cultural revitalization, and administrative matters at the Smithsonian are also represented. The collection consists of materials created for books and other publications, field notes, research materials, correspondence, administrative files, sound recordings, video recordings, photographs, and electronic records.
Scope and Contents:
The Robert Moody Laughlin papers (1899-2016, bulk 1954-2016) document his research and professional activities and primarily deal with language and folktales he recorded and studied, as well as the culture and history of the Tzotzil and other Mayan groups in the Chiapas region. His involvement in language education and training, advocacy for the Tzotzil and language and cultural revitalization, and administrative matters at the Smithsonian are also represented. The collection consists of materials created for books and other publications, field notes, research materials, correspondence, administrative files, sound recordings, video recordings, photographs, and electronic records.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged in 14 series: Series 1. Tzotzil Dictionaries, 1963-1988, undated; Series 2. Of Wonders Wild and New, 1963-1976; Series 3. Of Cabbages and Kings, 1960-1977; Series 4. Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax, 1963-1980; Series 5. Other Writings by Laughlin, 1956-2006; Series 6. Writings by Others, 1954-2002; Series 7. Biographical Files, 1906-2003; Series 8. Correspondence, 1899-1900, 1948-2002; Series 9. Research and Field Notes, 1954-1993; Series 10. Sna Jtz'ibajom, 1983-2016; Series 11. Administrative Files, 1961-2014; Series 12. Sound Recordings, circa 1960-2004; Series 13. Video Recordings, 1985-2002, undated; Series 14. Photographic Material, 1985-circa 2007, undated; Series 15. Electronic Files, 1985-circa 2004.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Moody Laughlin (also known as Lol Bik'it Nab in Tzotzil) was an ethnologist in the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology specializing in modern and colonial Tzotzil lexicography as well as Tzotzil oral history, worldview, dreams, prayers, ethnobotany, and history. As a pioneer in advocacy anthropology, Laughlin spent the majority of his career working to support the Chiapas Mayas through his publications, research, and other professional efforts. Among his most notable contributions to local and global understandings of the Chiapas Mayas and the Tzotzil language were his publication of The Great Tzotzil Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantan (1975) and his work in founding Sna Jtz'ibajom, a writers collective based in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Laughlin was born in 1934 in Princeton, New Jersey, and graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelors degree in English in 1956. He first visited the Chiapas area of Mexico in 1957 as a graduate student at the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia in Mexico City. He then transferred to Harvard University and began studying under cultural anthropologist Evon Vogt who had recently started the Harvard Chiapas Project. Laughlin completed his field work in Zinacantan, where he learned to speak Tzotzil. After receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard in 1963, he collected myths and folk tales in Zinacantan as an ethnologist for the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology. During regular trips to the field in Chiapas, Mexico, he also worked to compile a dictionary of Tzotzil words. After fourteen years of work, The Great Tzotzil Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantan was published in 1975.

After his dictionary was published, Laughlin returned to the study of folk tales and culture in Tzotzil and other Mayan cultural groups in Central America. He published several books on stories, dreams, marriage and other customs, ethnobotany, and history of the Tzotzil peoples. Laughlin's efforts at revitalizing the Tzotzil language and promoting the area's culture sparked significant Tzotzil interest in their own language and history, but illiteracy was still a major barrier to cultural revitalization. In 1983, Laughlin helped found Sna Jtz'ibajom (House of the Writer), a writers cooperative that took writings about Tzotzil history, folklore, and customs and translated them into Tzotzil. Sna Jtz'ibajom also created Teatro Lo'il Maxil (Monkey Business Theater), a group that wrote and performed plays related to Mayan folklore and education about social issues such as family planning and alcoholism.

Laughlin received the Premio Chiapas in Science in 2002 and the PEN Gregory Kolovakos Award for the translation of Spanish (including Native American) literature in 2004. He retired in 2006 and is currently a curator emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution.

Laughlin died on May 28, 2020, of Covid-19 complications.

Sources Consulted

Genzlinger, Neil. "Robert Laughlin, Preserver of a Mayan Language, Dies at 85." New York Times, June 24, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/science/robert-laughlin-preserver-of-a-mayan-language-dies-at-85.html

1934 -- Born on May 29 in Princeton, New Jersey

1956 -- Received Bachelor's Degree in English from Princeton University

1957 -- First trip to Chiapas area of Mexico in 1957 as a graduate student at the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia in Mexico City

1959 -- Traveled to Chiapas as a member of the Harvard Chiapas Project

1961 -- Received Masters Degree in Anthropology from Harvard University

1962 -- Hired as an ethnologist by the Bureau of American Ethnology (Smithsonian Institution).

1962-1964 -- Ethnologist, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution

1963 -- Received a Ph. D. in Anthropology from Harvard University

1964-1969 -- Associate Curator, Smithsonian Office of Anthropology

1969-1973 -- Associate Curator, Smithsonian Department of Anthropology

1973-2006 -- Curator, Smithsonian Department of Anthropology

1983 -- Aided in the foundation of Sna Jtz'ibajom (House of the Writer) in Chiapas.

2006 -- Retired from the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology.

2020 -- Died on May 28 of Covid-19 complications.
Separated Materials:
Material in Series 13. Video Recordings has been transferred to the National Anthropological Film Collection (NAFC), but is described in the this finding aid.
Provenance:
These papers were donated and transferred to the National Anthropological Archives by Robert M. Laughlin in 1985, 2011, and 2016 under accessions 1974-15, 2011-06, and 2016-16.
Restrictions:
The Robert Moody Laughlin papers are open for research.

Electronic media is currently restricted due to preservation concerns.

Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the National Anthropological Film Collection may not be played.

Access to the Robert Moody Laughlin papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Topic:
Language and languages -- Documentation  Search this
Dreams  Search this
Genre/Form:
Transcripts
Audiotapes
Paper tapes
Photographs
Vocabulary
Manuscripts
Citation:
Robert Moody Laughlin papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NAA.2011-06
See more items in:
Robert Moody Laughlin papers
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-naa-2011-06
Online Media:

Mayan Indians and the Passamaquoddy of Maine

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Bragdon, Kathleen J.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1998
Topic:
Anthropology  Search this
Natural History  Search this
See others in:
Anthropology
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_115881

A Traveller to the Other World: In Memory of Anselmo Perez

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Francisco, Alvarez Q.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1998
Topic:
Anthropology  Search this
Natural History  Search this
See others in:
Anthropology
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_115890

Great Tzotzil Dictionary of Santo Domingo Zinacantán, with Grammatical Analysis and Historical Commentary, Volume I: Tzotzil-English

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Haviland, John B.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1988
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113376

Flowering of Man: A Tzotzil Botany of Zinacantán, Volume I

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Breedlove, Dennis E.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1993
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113407

Flowering of Man: A Tzotzil Botany of Zinacantán, Volume II

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Breedlove, Dennis E.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1993
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113417

Great Tzotzil Dictionary of Santo Domingo Zinacantán, with Grammatical Analysis and Historical Commentary, Volume II: English-Tzotzil

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Haviland, John B.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1988
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113418

Great Tzotzil Dictionary of Santo Domingo Zinacantán, with Grammatical Analysis and Historical Commentary, Volume III: Spanish-Tzotzil

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Haviland, John B.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1988
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113419

Tzotzil and Tzeltal: Who in the World?

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Sartor, Margaret  Search this
Harris, Alex  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1984
Topic:
Natural History  Search this
Anthropology  Search this
See others in:
Anthropology
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_95880

Notes from the Underground

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Martin, Laura  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1980
Topic:
Natural History  Search this
Anthropology  Search this
See others in:
Anthropology
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_95936

Cultural Significance and Lexical Retention in Tzeltal-Tzotzil Ethnobotany

Author:
Berlin, Brent  Search this
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Raven, Peter H.  Search this
Breedlove, Dennis E.  Search this
Edmonson, Munro S.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1973
Topic:
Natural History  Search this
Anthropology  Search this
See others in:
Anthropology
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_95712

De cabo a rabo: Las expresiones metaforicas de la anatomia tzotzil de Zinacantan

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Montes de Oca Vega, M.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
2004
Topic:
Anthropology  Search this
Natural History  Search this
See others in:
Anthropology
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_21026

Laughlin, Robert M., 1997

Collection Creator::
Smithsonian Institution. Office of Fellowships and Internships  Search this
Container:
Box 5 of 64
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Rights:
Restricted for 15 years; until Jan-01-2028. These records contain sensitive information and will be redacted by SIA before use by researchers. Boxes 1, 6-7, 12-14, and 58-64 contain materials restricted indefinitely; see finding aid.; Transferring office; 8/19/2013 memorandum, Johnstone to Murphy; Contact reference staff for details.
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 14-099, Smithsonian Institution, Office of Fellowships and Internships, Program Records
See more items in:
Program Records
Program Records / Box 5
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-sia-fa14-099-refidd1e6307

Of Cabbages and Kings: Tales from Zinacantán

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1977
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113364

Of Wonders Wild and New: Dreams from Zinacantán

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1976
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113365

Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax: Sundries from Zinacantán

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1980
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113368

Great Tzotzil Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantán

Author:
Laughlin, Robert M.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1975
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_113387

Laughlin, Robert M. "El Símbolo de la Flor en la Religión de Zinacantán"

Container:
Box 18
Type:
Archival materials
Text
Date:
1962
Scope and Contents:
Inscribed by author
Collection Restrictions:
Materials with student grades were separated and have been restricted. Most of the restricted materials are not open for access until 2030.
Collection Rights:
Contact repository for terms of use.
See more items in:
Ruth Leah Bunzel Papers
Ruth Leah Bunzel Papers / Series 6: Writings by Others
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-naa-2006-22-ref410

Laughlin, Robert M.

Collection Creator:
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Anthropology  Search this
Smithsonian Institution. Department of Anthropology  Search this
Smithsonian Institution. United States National Museum. Department of Anthropology  Search this
Container:
Box 49
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Some materials are restricted.

Access to the Department of Anthropology records requires an appointment.
Collection Rights:
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Collection Citation:
Department of Anthropology Records, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Department of Anthropology records
Department of Anthropology records / Series 3: Alpha-Subject File / Advisory Cmte Mtg., Jan. 3-5, 1968
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-naa-xxxx-0311-ref1808

Laughlin, Robert M.

Collection Creator:
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Anthropology  Search this
Smithsonian Institution. Department of Anthropology  Search this
Smithsonian Institution. United States National Museum. Department of Anthropology  Search this
Container:
Box 49
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Some materials are restricted.

Access to the Department of Anthropology records requires an appointment.
Collection Rights:
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Collection Citation:
Department of Anthropology Records, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Department of Anthropology records
Department of Anthropology records / Series 3: Alpha-Subject File / Center for Investigation of Short-Lived Phenomena
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-naa-xxxx-0311-ref1992

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