The Society for the History of Technology Records (SHOT) consists of documents relating to SHOT from its inception in 1958- [0ngoing]. The collection is divided into two subgroups: Subgroup I, General Records, 1956-2009 which consist of papers generated and received by Melvin Kranzberg in his various roles as an officer of SHOT, as well as papers of other SHOT officers. Subgroup II,Technology and Culture Records, 1958-2009, consists of documents relating to the Society's journal, Technology and Culture. T & C is a quarterly publication containing articles of interest to and written by historians and students of technology. The records consist of material generated by Melvin Kranzberg in his role as editor-in-chief, 1959-1981 and by succeeding T&C editors.
Scope and Contents:
The collection is divided into two subgroups: Subgroup I, General Records, 1956-2009 which consist of papers generated and received by Melvin Kranzberg in his various roles as an officer of SHOT, as well as papers of other SHOT officers. Subgroup II,Technology and Culture Records, 1958-2009, consists of documents relating to the Society's journal, Technology and Culture. T & C is a quarterly publication containing articles of interest to and written by historians and students of technology. The records consist of material generated by Melvin Kranzberg in his role as editor-in-chief, 1959-1981 and by succeeding T&C editors. The Melvin Kranzberg Papers (AC0266) consist of the personal papers of Dr. Kranzberg from his undergraduate years at Amherst College through his professional career. The collection documents his involvement with development of the new field of history of technology and his role as principal founder of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT); work as consultant and advisor to domestic and international agencies, colleges, and universities; personal affiliations, lectureships, publications; and teaching and administrative activities for more than forty years as a college professor.
Subgroup I: General Records, 1956-2009, consists of documents relating to SHOT from its inception in 1958 to 2009, papers generated and received by Melvin Kranzberg in his various roles as an officer of SHOT, as well as papers of other SHOT officers.
The General Records are divided into ten series based on the functions of this professional organization of scholars interested in the history of technology. Series one through three document committees and officers and their correspondence regarding day-to-day activities of the Society. Financial records and preparation for annual membership meetings and other more specialized meetings comprise other series. Newsletters and brochures describing SHOT's activities and the records of SHOT's relationships with other professional associations (such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science) complete the General Records.
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1956-1984, consists of materials documenting organizing work, including membership, officers, finances, publicity and drafting of a constitution for SHOT. Included are minutes of meetings to accomplish these purposes as well as for the first general membership meeting held in December, 1958. Papers incorporating SHOT and a history of the organization as of 1976 are included. These records are organized into three categories: the initial conceptualization and creation of SHOT; support activities in the early period; the constitution and history of SHOT. The material is arranged chronologically.
Series 2: Records Of Councils, Committees, and Other Groups, 1959-1989, consists of the records of SHOT councils, committees and other organizational groups. The Executive Council consists of nine elected voting members in addition to the officers of the Society, past presidents of the Society, and the editor-in-chief of the Society's journal. The Executive Council directs the affairs of the Society. In order to reflect the composition of the Society as an interdisciplinary organization which draws from both academe and the factory and industrial laboratory, the Executive Council has been made up of a combination of academicians and practicing engineers and industrialists.
Subseries 2.2a: Executive Council, 1959-1963; 1968; 1975-1978; 1983-1987, contain memoranda to the Executive Council from Melvin Kranzberg, Secretary, 1959-1974; correspondence to and from Secretary Carroll Pursell, 1975-1978; reports; minutes; and other memoranda regarding the SHOT Brochure and Museum Exhibit Awards Program. In addition, Series 5 contains the minutes of many Executive Council meetings, 1958-1992.
Subseries 2.2b: Advisory Council, 1960-1961, is composed of SHOT members selected on the basis of their distinquished scholarship or eminent service to the development of technological studies. The Advisory Council is consulted from time to time regarding the affairs of the Society. These records contain memoranda to the Advisory Council requesting advice, and a list and addresses of Council members as of March, 1961.
The Subseries 2.2c: Nominating Committee,1961-1984, is composed of three Society members appointed by the president; they serve for three years in rotation, one member being added and one retiring each year. Their duties are to nominate persons for the various offices, Executive Council, and the Advisory Council. In addition they make nominations to the Executive Council of candidates for corresponding membership. These records contain correspondence among Society officers, members and potential members of the Nominating Committee; memoranda to the Nominating Committee regarding the work of the committee; lists of officers and council members of the Society; and nominations and ballots.
The Subseries 2.2d: Editorial Committee,1980-1987, is chosen by members of the Executive Council and generally oversees and has ultimate responsibility for the Society's journal, Technology and Culture. The editor-in-chief of the journal is the chairman of the Editorial Committee. The records contain correspondence of the committee; annual reports of the committee; memoranda; and the editor's reports.
The Subseries 2.2e: Documents Committee,1961-1970; 1979-1985 mission was to monitor the preservation of important documents and archival materials that are or may be of value to historians of technology. A primary function is the encouragement of the maintenance and preservation of scientific and technological archives. These records contain correspondence to and from the chairman of the committee, Mel Kranzberg, and others regarding the committee's work and status.
The Subseries 2.2f: Program Committee, 1959; 1961; 1968; 1971; 1983-1984, has charge of arrangements for SHOT's annual meetings, any special meetings of the Society, and any other programs sponsored by the Society. For example, the committee has the responsibility of organizing SHOT sessions at annual meetings of the American Historical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and History of Science Society, among others. These records contain correspondence and memoranda among members of the committee--and with Kranzberg--regarding program sessions and participants at various meetings and other committee business and priorities; the program of the SHOT 1983 annual meeting; and various program reports, 1959-1985.
Subseries 2.2g: Other Committees, 1961-1987, consist of correspondence and memoranda regarding the myriad aspects of various small SHOT committees' work. Among the committees are: Fellowship Committee; Aims and Goals Committee; Industrial Archeology Committee; Electricity and Electronics Archives Committee; Bicentennial Committee; SHOT Research Committee; Technical Studies Committee; Museum Committee; Monograph Committee; Ad Hoc Committee on Library Services; Technical Studies and Educational Committee; Sites Committee; the Endowment Committee; and the Bibliographic Committee, which was organized to prepare an annual list of books and articles with critical comments or references to reviews when available. The bibliography is published annually in Technology and Culture. An analytical index is prepared annually to accompany the bibliography.
Subseries 2.2h: Officers and Committee Appointments, 1963;1966; 1970-1977; 19080; 1982, contains lists of SHOT committee officers, as well as correspondence and memoranda regarding committee and SHOT officers' appointments and acceptances.
Since SHOT's inception in 1958, members have formed special interest groups (SIGs) for the purpose of bringing together scholars and professionals with interests in specific fields of the history of technology.
Subseries 2.2i: Special Interest Groups, 1961-1988, material includes correspondence, memoranda, newsletters, directories, reports of chairmen, and articles of various special interest groups. These special interest groups are composed of SHOT members who have a common interest, e.g., women's roles in technological history and military technology.
The Subseries 2.2j: Awards Committee (Committee on Honors), 1961-1988, was an advisory committee created to establish conditions and to recommend recipients for various SHOT medals and awards, such as the Usher, Dexter and da Vinci. The power to confer the awards rests with the Executive Council of SHOT. The committee is also responsible for developing citations for the medals and carrying out the nomination process for awards. These records contain correspondence between committee members and Kranzberg regarding awards to recipients, vitae of award recipients, and edited copies of the "awards/honors section" of Technology and Culture.
The Subseries 2.2k: Leonardo da Vinci Medal, 1966-1986, is the Society's highest honor, presented to an individual who has greatly contributed to the history of technology through research, teaching, publications, and other activities. This material consists mostly of correspondence among officers of SHOT and the medal recipients. Also included is biographical material on three recipients of the medal. Photographs of the medal are also included.
The Subseries 2.2l: Dexter Prize, sponsored by the Dexter Chemical Corporation of New York City, is an annual prize of $1,000 dollars for the best book on the history of technology. This material is mainly correspondence regarding the establishment of the prize, development of the plaque, correspondence to and from the recipients, a photo of one recipient, and original illustrations of the plaque.
The Subseries 2.2m: Robinson Prize, 1968-1987, was established by the Executive Council and is awarded annually. It consists of a certificate and a check for $150 dollars for the best paper presented at a SHOT annual meeting by a person under thirty years of age. The material includes correspondence and memoranda regarding this prize. In addition, copies of many submission papers are included.
The Subseries 2.2n: Levinson Prize, 1984-1986, is awarded for an author's first manuscript intended for publication. There is a cash award of $250 dollars and an appropriate plaque. Included is correspondence to and from SHOT officers regarding the establishment and the awarding of this prize.
Subseries 2o: Miscellaneous Awards, 1984-1986, consists of correspondence and memoranda related to various small awards and prizes, including the Usher prize, a special certification award for meritorious work not covered by established prizes, and the IEEE Life Member's Prize in Electrical History, administered by SHOT.
Series 3: Correspondence, 1963-1988, contains correspondence of SHOT officers and is divided into three subseries: general correspondence, correspondence of SHOT presidents, and correspondence dealing with particularly important subjects. The general correspondence deals with routine administrative matters from 1966-1988. The presidential letters and the letters to which they reply relate to the official responsibilities of the SHOT president 1978-1986. The final category contains correspondence, 1975-1985, on subjects such as preparations for commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage and the offer of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to be the repository for the records of SHOT.
Series 4: Financial Records (Budget), 1959-1993, consists of financial statements and bank records, 1960-1993, including reports of SHOT treasurers to the membership and to appropriate committees regarding SHOT finances, as well as bank statements, check stubs, and other records of transactions and investments. Copies of required reports to the Internal Revenue Service, 1960-1991 are filed separately as is the general correspondence of SHOT Treasurers, 1985-1991. Financial reports on individual SHOT Meetings, 1976-1993 consititute a final category.
Series 5: Meetings, 1958-1992, contains minutes of the Executive Council and annual general membership meetings, as well as records of preparatory work for annual meetings of SHOT, and is arranged chronologically. Records of other membership meetings concerned with particular subjects are listed separately. Correspondence relating to a conference on "Critical Issues in the History of Technology" organized by SHOT in Roanoke, Virginia in 1978, is also included.
Series 6: Secretary's Membership Records, 1958-1984, consists of reports and correspondence to and from officers and members of SHOT, and is arranged chronologically. Included are inquiries from prospective members, responses by the SHOT secretary, statistics of membership, questionnaires, and invitations to join SHOT.
Series 7: Newsletter, 1958-1997, contains the SHOT newsletter and records of its publication and is arranged chronologically for 1977-1989. Materials for the years preceding 1977 include the actual newsletters for 1958-1964, arranged chronologically, and the rough draft of the 1960 newsletter. Series 9 contains additional copies of the SHOT newsletter.
Series 8: Publication of Monographs, 1961-1984, contains correspondence and committee meeting minutes relating to editorial review, printing problems and royalties. These are arranged by subject.
Series 9: SHOT Professional Relations with Other Organizations, 1964-1988, consists of materials documenting SHOT's numerous official contacts with other professional societies, including joint meetings, correspondence, and minutes. These records are arranged chronologically. Papers relating to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Council of Learned Societies are grouped separately.
Series 10, Officers Files, 1958-2009, contains materials submitted periodically by former officers of SHOT, beginning in the mid-1980s. Included are documents relating to their administrative functions, as well as their correspondence conducted while in office. Received material which obviously fits into the body of the collections has been so incorporated, in the order of their donation.
Subgroup II: Technology and Culture Records, 1958-1995, consists of documents relating to the Society's journal, Technology and Culture. T & C is a quarterly publication containing articles of interest to and written by historians and students of technology. The records consist of material generated by Melvin Kranzberg in his role as editor-in-chief, 1959-1981 and by succeeding T&C editors.
The papers are divided into ten subseries according to the editorial and other activities involved in producing T & C. In addition to the Organizational Records, 1958-1962, the Technology and Culture records include book reviews, editorial reviews of articles, indexes and tables of contents, printing (by the University of Chicago Press), costs, promotions, and special projects.
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1958-1962 , contains correspondence, minutes of meetings and memoranda relating to the creation of the quarterly journal, T&C, and its first issue. the series includes records of a membership poll to choose the journal's name. A speech by Melvin Kranzberg in 1981 entitled "Quirks and Jerks of Editing Technology and Culture" outlines the early considerations in publication and later editorial problems.
Series 2: Correspondence, 1965-1988, is restricted and contains articles and reviews of articles submitted to T&C for publication. This material is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The folder dates represent the dates of all the correspondence in the folder. The older date usually represents the date when the correspondence was initiated regarding the submission of an article to T&C. However, the latest date does not always represent correspondence regarding a submission to T&C, since Kranzberg sometimes included general correspondence in the folders.
All articles went through a refereeing process, during which referees wrote recommendations, either for or against publication. These judges wrote their recommendations with the understanding that their identities and their evaluations would remain confidential. In order to maintain the confidentiality of all parties, this separate correspondence series and the confidential referee reviews have been restricted for thirty years from the most recent date of the correspondence. Exceptions will be made if written permission is obtained from SHOT's Editorial Board.The majority of folders contain correspondence between Kranzberg and the referees about articles, but not the articles themselves. The judges' recommendations contain a great deal of information. Some papers were revised two, three, or more times in preparation for publication and referees' reports follow each revision.
Series 3: Book Reviews, 1969-1995, consists of drafts of reviews which appeared inT&C with correspondence relating to those reviews. The material is arranged chronologically according to theT&C issue in which they appeared.
Series 4: Editorial Review of Articles, 1960-1993, consists of drafts of articles considered for publication and other editorial material, for example, exhibit reviews, communications, notes and announcements, correspondence (with authors and reviewers; the latter included comments on the draft articles) and email printouts. The material is arranged alphabetically by name of author and is restricted. Judges wrote their recommendations with the understanding that their identities and their evaluations, would remain confidential. In order to maintain the confidentiality of all parties, this series and the confidential referee reviews have been restricted for thirty years from the most recent date of the correspondence. Exceptions will be made if written permission is obtained from SHOT's Editorial Board.
Series 5: Indexes (Cumulative) and Tables of Contents, 1965-1987 (Boxes 54-56), contains tables of contents of each quarterly edition of T&C, 1965-1981, together with cumulative indexes through 1987.
Series 6: Technology and Culture Printing and Costs, 1959-1994, consists of correspondence with printers of the T&C quarterly journal (primarily the University of Chicago Press), including instructions for printing and negotiation of costs. Also included are arrangements for reprints, cover designs and membership lists. Correspondence relating to campaigns to promote sales of T&C and annual reports of revenues and costs is arranged chronologically.
Series 7: Special Projects, 1962-1986, includes materials documenting miscellaneous projects related to T&C and its editing and publication, and is arranged chronologically.
Series 8: Technology and Culture Editor, 1982-1995, consists of records of the editor documenting the functions of soliciting, reviewing, refereeing and giving final approval for articles and book reviews appearing in T&C. Correspondence with members of SHOT and others is arranged alphabetically. Letters relate to proposed articles and comments on them, as well as other subjects. Also included is correspondence relating to Post's own publications, exhibits, and public presentations, assessments of grant applications, records of his involvement in the affairs of the National Museum of American History and other museums, and correspondence with other periodicals with which he was editorially involved, such as Invention and Technology and Railroad History.
Series 9: Published Files, 1982-1994,contains edited typescript (as submitted to publisher) for articles, research notes, conference reports, organizational notes, reviews, obituaries, and all other material published in Technology and Culture for one calendar year. Correspondence with authors, advisory editors, referees (between two and five for each article), and editorial and production staff of the University of Chicago Press is also included. The materials are arranged chronologically by year. These files are closed for thirty years from the date of the last correspondence in the individual folder. They may be opened, on a case-by-case basis, through appeal to the SHOT Editorial Committee.
Series 10: Office Business Files, 1983-2007, consists of files from the Technology and Culture offices. Many of the files relate to the journal's redesign, editors, and search for a university press to publish the journal.
The collection is divided into two subgroups.
Subgroup I: General Records, 1956-2009
Subgroup II:Technology and Culture Records, 1958-2010
Subgroup I: General Records, 1956-2009
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1956-1984
Subseries 1.1a: Conceptualization and Creation of SHOT, 1956-1959
Subseries 1.1b: Support Activities, 1958-1972
Subseries 1.1c: Constitution and History of SHOT, 1958-1976
Series 2: Records of Councils, Committees, and Other Groups, 1959-1989
Subgroup II:Technology and Culture Records, 1958-2012
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1958-1962
Series 2: Correspondence, 1965-1988
Series 3: Book Reviews, 1969-1995
Series 4: Editorial Review of Articles, 1960-1993
Series 5: Indexes (cumulative and tables of contents), 1965-1987
Series 6:Technology and Culture, 1959-1994
Series 7, Special Projects, 1962-1986
Series 8, Technology and Culture Editor, 1982-2010
Series 9: Published Files, 1982-1994
Series 10: Office Business Files, 1983-2007
Series 11:Technology and Culture (journal), 1992, 1994, 2005-2012
Biographical / Historical:
The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) was formed in 1958 to encourage the study of the development of technology and its relations with politics, economics, labor, business, the environment, public policy, science, and the arts. The Society is incorporated in the State of Ohio as a nonprofit educational organization. Membership is international, open to individuals, organizations, corporations, and institutions interested in the purposes and activities of the Society. An international society, SHOT meets annually in North America or Europe and also sponsors smaller conferences focused on specialized topics, often jointly with other scholarly societies and organizations. The Society's quarterly journal, Technology and Culture, is published by the Johns Hopkins University Press (http://www.techculture.org/). In addition to Technology and Culture, SHOT publishes a quarterly newsletter and, jointly with the American Historical Association, a booklet series, Historical Perspectives on Technology, Society, and Culture.
Melvin Kranzberg was the driving force behind the organization of SHOT. He chaired its Executive Council, 1958-1959, and also served as secretary of the organization, 1959-1974; vice president, 1981-1982; president, 1983-1984; and chairman of the editorial committee, 1985-1988. From 1959 to 1981, he was editor-in-chief of SHOT's quarterly journal, Technology and Culture (T&C). In addition to his long, intimate involvement with SHOT, Kranzberg, as a professor at Case Institute of Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology, 1952-1988, was deeply engaged in studying aspects of technological development over the course of human history. Kranzberg participated in many scholarly committees and other organizations, both domestic and international. He also contributed to governmental commissions and international bodies. His correspondence, speeches and published articles constitute the Melvin Kranzberg Papers, 1934-1988 (AC0266), in the National Museum of American History's Archives Center.
The Archives Center was officially designated the respository for the SHOT records and the editorial records of Technology and Culture in October 1994.
Material in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Melvin Kranzberg Papers (AC0266)
Personal papers of Dr. Kranzberg from his undergraduate years at Amherst College through his professional career. Collection documents his involvement with development of the new field of history of technology and his role as principal founder of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT); work as consultant and advisor to domestic and international agencies, colleges, and universities; personal affiliations, lectureships, publications; and teaching and administrative activities for more than forty years as a college professor.
S. Colum Gilfillan Papers (AC0461)
Gilfillan was a charter member of SHOT in 1958. The papers include correspondence with Melvin Kranzberg concerning articles that he published in SHOT's journal, Technology and Culture.
Materials in Smithsonian Institution Archives
Brooke Hindle Papers, 1944-1985 (RU 7363)
These papers document Hindle's teaching career; his tenure as an academic dean, historian, and professor of science and technology at New York University; his service as president of SHOT; and, to a lesser extent, his years as director of the National Museum of the History of Technology (NMHT). Papers consist of correspondence and memoranda with historical, scientific, and technological institutes and societies concerning research; correspondence and memoranda with prominent historians of science and technology, particularly Carl Bridenbaugh, Whitfield J. Bell, and A. Hunter Dupree; historical research proposals, manuscripts, publications, index cards, and related material; biographical information; slides and photographs of scientific illustrations and portraits of historic American figures; files concerning his presidency of SHOT and as a member of various visiting committees to review academic programs in the history of science and technology; and copies of course materials prepared during his teaching career at New York University.
Dr. Melvin Kranzberg donated the collection on August 29, 1988.
The collection is open for research, but is stored offsite. Arrangements must be made with the Archives Center staff two weeks prior to a scheduled research visit.
Subgroup II: Technology and Culture Records
Series 2: Correspondence, 1965-1988
Files are restricted for thirty years from the most recent date of the correspondence. They may be opened, on a case-by-case basis, through appeal to the SHOT Editorial Committee.
Series 4: Editorial Review of Articles, 1960-1993
Files are restricted for thirty years from the most recent date of the review. They may be opened, on a case-by-case basis, through appeal to the SHOT Editorial Committee.
Series 9: Published Files, 1982-1994
Files are restricted for thirty years from the date of the last correspondence in the individual folder. They may be opened, on a case-by-case basis, through appeal to the SHOT Editorial Committee.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees apply when requesting reproductions.
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Search this
24.96 Linear feet (59 document boxes plus 1 oversize box)
Monte Castello di Vibio (Italy)
The Sydel Silverman papers, 1939-2010 (bulk 1949-2010) document her field research in Italy, her work as an educator and foundation executive, and her involvement in professional organizations. Sydel Silverman taught at Queens College in New York, was Executive Officer of the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Anthropology, and served as president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Her primary fields of research have been agrarian communities in Italy and the history and practice of anthropology. Materials in the collection include field notes, journals, correspondence, calendars, published and unpublished writings, conference papers and lectures, teaching files, student files, photographs and slides, and sound recordings.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains the professional papers of anthropologist Sydel Silverman. Included are research materials consisting of field notes, journals, other scholars' publications, and newspaper clippings; correspondence; postcards; calendars; published and unpublished writings; conference papers and lectures; brochures; itineraries; conference meeting notes; teaching files, including syllabi and reading lists; student files such as class notes and papers from Silverman's years as an anthropology student; photographs and slides; and sound recordings.
The materials in this collection document Silverman's travels through Italy while conducting field research, her role as an educator and academic administrator, and her involvement in professional organizations such as the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American Anthropological Association. Silverman participated heavily in conferences and seminars across the U.S. and internationally. A copious note taker, Silverman recorded her reflections on many of these experiences. Her notes can be found throughout the collection.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
The collection is organized into 10 series: (1) Field Research, 1939-2002 [bulk 1960-1987]; (2) Correspondence, 1959-2009; (3) Writings, 1963-2009; (4) Wenner-Gren Foundation Files, 1985-2009; (5) Professional Activities, 1961-2010; (6) Teaching Files, 1958-2005; (7) Biographical Files, 1961-2008; (8) Student Files, 1949-65; (9) Photographs, 1961-2002; (10) Sound Recordings, 1960-61
Sydel Silverman was an anthropologist known for her work as a researcher, writer, academic administrator, and foundation executive. Her career in anthropology began with her graduate studies at the University of Chicago (1952-1957) and Columbia University (1957-63). After graduation she started teaching at Queens College in New York (1962-75) and became Executive Officer of the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Anthropology (1975-86). After leaving CUNY, she moved on to the Wenner-Gren Foundation, serving as president of the Foundation from 1987 to 1999.
Silverman was born on May 20, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. Sydel, the youngest of seven siblings, was raised in the Jewish neighborhood of Lawndale on the west side of Chicago. Silverman credited her Uncle Hirschel for inspiring her to learn about foreign cultures and traditions, writing that her time spent with him reading about mysticism and oriental religions "may have been the beginnings of what became my interest in anthropology" (Silverman 2008).
Silverman graduated from high school in January 1951 and entered the University of Illinois at Navy Pier as a pre-med student. At the end of her second year at the University of Illinois, she entered the University of Chicago's program in Committee on Human Development, which combined study in biology, psychology, and sociology-anthropology. The program allowed students to enter with only two years of college with a special exam, which Silverman passed. She completed her Masters in 1957 and enrolled in the PhD program in Anthropology at Columbia University, during which she decided to focus her research on central Italy.
Silverman's first experience in Italy was in 1955 when she spent a year traveling through Europe with her first husband, Mel Silverman. They moved from city to city, beginning in Naples and then Rome, the city that Sydel writes was "the instant beginning of my love affair with Italy" (Silverman 2008). Upon their return from Europe the couple moved to New York. Sydel began working as a secretary but she soon decided to go back to school. She "picked anthropology, because it was the closest thing to being multi-disciplinary while still having a label, and Columbia was the obvious place to go in New York" (Silverman 2008). She was inspired to focus on the Mediterranean for her fieldwork because of Conrad Arensberg's cultural anthropological work in Europe.
In August of 1960 Sydel left for Italy to conduct a community study of the village Montecastello di Vibio. Silverman confessed in her memoirs that she was "never good at fieldwork," but she formed relationships with many of the locals who helped her collect data for her dissertation. Her research in Italy was one of the first social-anthropological studies of Central Italy and is known for its description of the traditional agrarian system of that area (the mezzadria) shortly before it was abolished by law. Silverman's dissertation research resulted in a book, Three Bells of Civilization, and numerous journal articles. She was awarded her Ph.D. in 1963.
Silverman's subsequent research in Italy included a study of a land reform area in the South (1967) and several field seasons (1980-85) devoted to a comparative study of competitive festivals in Central Italy. Most notable from this work are her publications on the Palio of Siena.
Silverman's other primary research interest has been in the history and practice of anthropology. She edited Totems and Teachers (1981, rev. 2004), a text about prominent anthropologists, and co-authored One Discipline Four Ways (2005). Her book The Beast on the Table (2002) analyzes twenty-five international symposia that she organized and led while at the Wenner-Gren Foundation and is a record of the living history of anthropology. She later became interested in parallels between the history of anthropology and that of the movies, which she presented as the 2006 Distinguished Lecture to the American Anthropological Association (published in The American Anthropologist Volume 109, Issue 3). In addition, she initiated an effort to save the primary documents of anthropology, co-authoring with Nancy Parezo the book Preserving the Anthropological Record (1992, rev. 1995) and co-organizing CoPAR (the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records).
Silverman's career as an administrator began in 1970 when she was elected as departmental chair at Queens College. In 1975 she was chosen as the Executive Officer of the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Anthropology, and under her leadership the program went from disarray and the threat of elimination to being cited as one of the ten top anthropology doctoral programs in the country. She also led a successful effort to retain full anthropology departments at all the senior CUNY colleges during the New York City budget crises of 1965-76. In 1987 she was appointed president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and acted as the spokesperson for the Foundation, overseeing fellowship and grant funding and advocating for the field of anthropology. She retired from Wenner-Gren in 1999.
Silverman died of cancer on March 25, 2019 at age 85.
Roberts, Sam. "Sydel Silverman, 85, Dies; Defended Anthropology in Academia." New York Times, April 5, 2019.
1933 -- Born May 20 in Chicago, Illinois
1951 -- January: Entered University of Illinois at Navy Pier, pre-med, through August 1952
1952 -- Entered University of Chicago, Program in Human Development
1953 -- December 27: Married Mel Silverman
1957 -- September: Entered Columbia University, Department of Anthropology Received M.A. from University of Chicago
1960-1961 -- Conducted fieldwork in Montecastello di Vibio
1962 -- September: Began teaching classes at Queens College, CUNY
1963 -- PhD awarded
1966 -- Mel Silverman died
1968 -- Fall semester: Acting Chairman, Dept. of Anthro., Queens Tenure awarded, Queens College
1970-1973 -- Department Chairman, Anthropology, Queens
1972 -- March 18: Married Eric R. Wolf
1975 -- Executive Officer of Ph.D. Program in Anthropology, CUNY Graduate School (through June 1982)
1980-1982 -- Festival research and travels in Italy: Siena, Perugia, Gubbio, Rome, Florence, Geneva
1982-1983 -- September: Acting Dean of the Graduate School, CUNY
1987 -- President of Wenner-Gren Foundation
1999 -- Eric R. Wolf died Retired from Wenner-Gren presidency
2019 -- Silverman died of cancer on March 25 at age 85
1968 -- Silverman, Sydel F. "Agricultural Organization, Social Structure, and Values in Italy: Amoral Familism Reconsidered." American Anthropologist 70 (February 1968): 1-20.
1970 -- Silverman, Sydel F. "'Exploitation' in Rural Central Italy: Structure and Ideology in Stratification Study." Comparative Studies in Society and History 12 (July 1970): 327-339.
1975 -- Silverman, Sydel. Three Bells of Civilization: the Life of an Italian Hill Town. New York: Columbia University Press, 1975.
1976 -- Silverman, Sydel. "Anthropology and the Crisis at CUNY." Anthropology News 17, no.10 (December 1976): 7-10.
1981 -- Silverman, Sydel, ed. Totems and Teachers: Key Figures in the History of Anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.
1984 -- Silverman, Sydel. "Anthropological Perspectives on Suicide." In Suicide: The Will to Live vs. The Will to Die, edited by Norman Linzer, 225-233. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1984.
1986 -- Silverman, Sydel. "Anthropology and History: Understanding the Boundaries." Historical Methods 19 (Summer 1986): 123-126.
1992 -- Silverman, Sydel and Nancy J. Parezo, eds. Preserving the Anthropological Record. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1992.
2002 -- Silverman, Sydel. The Beast on the Table: Conferencing with Anthropologists. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2002.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Sydel Silverman in April 2011.
Files containing Silverman's students' grades and papers have been restricted, as have grant and fellowships applications sent to Silverman to review and her comments on them. For preservation reasons, the computer disks from The Beast on the Table are also restricted.
Access to the Sydel Silverman papers requires an appointment.