The collection comprises photographs documenting peoples of the Philippines, including Benguet, Bogobo, Igorot, Ifugao, Moro, and Negrito people and their environment. ALso included are photographs of the military presence in the Philippines. The photographs, including prints and postcards, were made or collected by Elizabeth H. and Sarah S. Metcalf during their time on the Philippine Islands and at the Louisiana Purchase (1904) and Lewis and Clark Expositions (1905). Images of Philippine peoples depict ceremonies and daily activities, including agriculture, hunting, construction of dwellings, and markets. Additional postcards and photographs in the collection were both made and collected during the Metcalf sisters' travels in Switzerland, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Japan, and Hawaii. Many of the postcards and some photographs were commercially made, but most of the photographs appear to have been made by the Metcalfs, including some photographs printed on postcard stock. The collection also includes correspondence, financial documents, artifact descriptions, lecture notes, and many newspaper clippings.
Sisters Elizabeth Henshaw and Sarah Sprague Metcalf became interested in the Philippines and Bagobo peoples after attending the Philippine Reservation at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis in 1904. They were particularly impressed by the Bagobo gong music, and developed acquaintances with several of the participants. The following year, the Metcalfs attended the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, and again interacted with the Philippine peoples there, who were mostly Igorot. Middle-aged and unmarried, the sisters set off for Mindanao the following year. They spent several months in Zamboanga before moving to Santa Cruz where they were closer to the Bagobo people. During their stay in the Philippines (1906-1910), the Metcalfs photographed and advocated for their Bagobo friends and amassed an extensive collection of indigenous material culture. Uncertainties relating to the First World War brought the sisters back to the United States in 1910 and Elizabeth presented their ethnological research to the American Anthropological Association the following year. Around 1915, they returned to the Philippines, where they settled in Manila and sold indigenous handicrafts in their "Little Home Shop." Elizabeth and Sarah remained in Manila until their deaths in 1925 and 1939, respectively.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 107
Biographical information mostly taken from Cherubim A. Quizon, "Two Yankee Women at the St. Louis Fair: The Metcalf Sisters and their Bagobo Sojourn in Mindanao," Philippine Studies 52, no. 4 (2004): 527-555.
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Additional photographs and material relating to the Metcalf sisters are held in the National Anthropological Archives in Photo Lot 97 and the Department of Anthropology records (Manuscript and Pamphlet file).
Artifacts collected by the Metcalf sisters are held in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and in the National Museum of Natural History Department of Anthropology collections in accessions 114868, 124603, 123977, and 57787.
Original nitrate negatives are in cold storage and require advanced notice for viewing.