The Robert I. Levy papers document his field work, research and professional activities from 1949-2001 and primarily deal with his work studying social organization, culture, and their psychological effects in Tahiti and Nepal. The collection consists of correspondence, field notes, sound recordings of interviews with informants in Tahiti and Nepal, interview transcripts and analyses, language and culture research materials, maps, and color slides. Also included are files about his books, articles, essays, and lectures; course materials from his time as a professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD); and conference files.
Scope and Contents:
The Robert I. Levy papers document his field work, research and professional activities from 1949-2001 and primarily deal with his work studying social organization, culture and their psychological effects in Tahiti and Nepal. The collection consists of correspondence, field notes, sound recordings of interviews with informants in Tahiti and Nepal, interview transcripts and analyses, language and culture research materials, maps, and color slides.
The correspondence includes Levy's thoughts on his first field work experience in Tahiti from 1961-1964 along with extensive correspondence with Levy's cousin, anthropologist Roy Rappaport, in the same time period. Interview transcripts from Tahiti are written in Tahitian with Levy's notes in English. Transcripts from Nepal are in Newar (Devanagari script) with English translations. Full transcripts in both languages are not always present. Research materials comprise documents Levy gathered before and after his periods of field work and include extensive analyses of psychological terms in Tahitian and Newar. The color slides depict adults, children, daily activities, rituals, and some landscapes in Tahiti and Nepal.
Also included in this collection are files about his books, articles, essays, and lectures; course materials from his time as a professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD); and conference files.
This collection is arranged in 4 series: Series 1. Tahiti, 1959-1964, 1970, undated; Series 2. Nepal, 1959-1990, undated; Series 3. Professional activities, 1949-2001, undated; Series 4. Slides, 1961, 1973-1978, undated.
1924 -- Robert I. Levy was born on June 1st in New York, New York.
1947 -- M.D. Degree, New York University, College of Medicine.
1953-1956 -- Army Medical Corps, Neuropsychiatric and Psychiatric Services, Germany.
1954 -- Specialty certification in psychiatry. American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
1956-1962 -- Private psychiatry practice. Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, School of Medicine. Attending Psychiatrist, Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, San Francisco, California. Adjunct in psychiatry, Mount Zion Hospital, San Francisco, California.
1961 -- Fellow, American Psychiatric Association.
1961-1964 -- From July-August 1961 and July 1962-June 1964, field work in French Polynesia. Grants from the National Institute for Mental Health and the National Science Foundation.
1964-1966 -- Research Associate, Anthropology, Bishop Museum, Honolulu. Senior Scholar, Institute of Advanced Projects, East-West Center;
1966-1967 -- Visiting Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Hawaii.
1967-1969 -- Research Professor, Social Science Research Institute of Hawaii; Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii.
1969-1991 -- Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego.
1973-1976 -- Field work in Nepal. National Science Foundation grant.
1990-1991 -- Fellow, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC.
1991-2003 -- Research Professor of Anthropology, Duke University. Research Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego;
1996 -- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
2003 -- Died August 29th in Asolo, Italy.
Robert I. Levy was a professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) from 1969 until his retirement in 1991 who was known for his ground breaking work in psychological anthropology. Born in 1924 in New York, New York, he originally trained in medicine and psychiatry (M.D. Degree, New York University, 1947). Levy was lured into anthropology in the early 1960s by Douglas Oliver to work on a field project in Tahiti. Levy spent a total of 26 months from 1961-1964 conducting research in Tahiti focused on aspects of Tahitian culture and psychological organization. The resulting book Tahitians: Mind and Experience in the Society Islands (1973) was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award. Levy went on to complete field work in Nepal in the traditional Hindu city of Bhaktapur, from 1973-1976 conducting research on social organization, culture, and their psychological correlates. The culmination of his research, Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal, was published in 1990.
Prior to joining the faculty at UCSD, Levy was a senior scholar at the East-West Center, a research associate at the Bishop Museum, and a professor at the University of Hawaii, all in Honolulu. He was also the associate editor of ETHOS from 1971-1979 and received fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, CA (1985-1986) and the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC (1990-1991). After his retirement from UCSD in 1991 Levy was appointed a Research Professor of Anthropology at both the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Duke University. He died in 2003 in Asolo, Italy.
Hollan, Douglas 2005 "Mind and Experience in Tahiti, Nepal, and Beyond." ETHOS. Vol. 33, No. 4, Special Section in Honor of Robert I. Levy (Dec., 2005), pp. 430-432.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Robert Levy's wife,
Nerys Levy, in 2014.
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Robert I. Levy papers are open for research.
Access to the Robert I. Levy papers requires an appointment.
Mary Slusser (1918-2017) was a prominent scholar of Nepalese art, architecture, and cultural history. This collection contains personal files, professional correspondence, research files, travel documents, and photographs. The research files relate to her study of specific subjects and contain mixed media. Photographic materials include prints, slides, negatives, contact sheets, and digital images on compact discs in both color and black and white. Most of the collections are related to her study of Nepal, though other countries are represented including Tibet, Laos, China, and Vietnam. Subjects include firsthand observations of objects and sites; notes on secondary sources; correspondence with fellow scholars; manuscript drafts; and records of her work on the gallery space, and guide to, the Patan Museum. The earliest materials date from 1951 during the beginning of her time living abroad alongside her husband, while both worked for the State Department. The materials continue through 2017, reflecting her dedicated scholarship and travel through the end of her life.
The collection is organized into five series:
• Series 1: Biographical Materials
• Series 2: Correspondence
• Series 3: Research Files
• Series 4: Travel Files
• Series 5: Photographic Materials
Biographical / Historical:
Dr. Mary Slusser (1918-2017) was born as Mary Shepherd in Welland, Ontario to George Percy and Ethel Mary Shepherd. Her family moved to Michigan the following year and Slusser became a naturalized US citizen in 1934. Slusser followed her sister, Dorothy Shepherd (1916-1992), to the University of Michigan, where Mary graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1942. During her studies at Michigan, she met Robert Slusser, whom she would marry in 1944. Slusser moved to New York City in 1942, again following the path of her sister, Dorothy, who had enrolled in graduate school at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. Slusser undertook some coursework at NYU as a part-time student. Slusser would eventually complete her graduate studies at Columbia University, earning a PhD in anthropology in 1950. She completed some of her coursework at Harvard University, while her husband studied at nearby Tufts University. Her dissertation was titled "Preliminary archeological studies of northern Central Chile."
Next, Slusser worked as a research analyst at the US State Department. Her husband also worked at the agency and spent much of his career completing foreign service appointments as an economist with USAID. Slusser accompanied her husband to his various overseas posts, beginning in 1954 in Vietnam. The Slussers would live and work abroad in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Guinea, Nepal, and Tunisia. Slusser continued to work for the State Department as a field anthropologist. Mary received funding from the Smithsonian to acquire a small collection of Nepalese artifacts. She immediately took to learning about the art and culture of the region. She found a dearth of English-language information on the area and did her own field work and engaged with local scholars to fill in the gaps. She remained in Nepal for five years, contracted by the Smithsonian to write a guide to Nepal. Her research would lead to Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of Kathmandu Valley, a two-volume set of text and images, predominantly her own photographs, which was published in 1982.
Robert Slusser retired in 1980, and he and Mary permanently settled in Washington, DC. Her scholarly work took her to museums, first at the Museum of African Art as a curatorial assistant from 1975 to 1978, and then a post-doctoral fellowship at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1989. After her fellowship, Slusser was asked to remain at the museum as a research associate, an unpaid position she held for the rest of her career. Slusser continued to publish works on Nepalese art, including the 2010 book, The Antiquity of Nepalese Wood Carving: a Reassessment, co-authored with Paul Jett, a conservator at the museum. Slusser used carbon dating tests to show that many Nepalese wood sculptures were much older than originally thought. Slusser also contributed to the establishment of the Patan Museum in Nepal, which opened in 1997. She served as the museum's cultural advisor and curator and wrote the museum guide and many of the exhibition materials.
Slusser continued to travel to Nepal and other parts of central Asia well into her eighties, often visiting remote sites on foot with the aid of local guides. Slusser stayed active at home, continuing her research work despite declining eyesight and hearing. She died in 2017 at age 98.
Mary Shepherd Slusser papers, circa 1950 – circa 1995, National Museum of National History, National Anthropolgical Archives, NAA.1983.0407
Dorothy Shepard Photographs, National Museum of Asian Art Archives, FSA.A2015.12
Russell Hamilton Postcard and Photograph Collection, National Museum of Asian Art Archives, FSA.A2001.13
Russell Hamilton postcards, between 1900-1909, National Museum of African Art, Eliot Elisophon Photographic Archives, EEPA.2003-001
Collection is open for research.
Permission to reproduce and publish an item from the Archives is coordinated through the National Museum of Asian Art's Rights and Reproductions department. Please contact the Archives in order to initiate this process.