The Priscilla Reining papers, 1916-2007, primarily document the professional life of Reining, a social anthropologist and Africanist who worked for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from 1974 to 1989. Her area of specialty was sub-Saharan Africa, specializing in desertification, land tenure, land use, kinship, population, fertility, and HIV/AIDS. During the 1970s, she pioneered the use of satellite imagery in conjunction with ethnographic data. She is also known for her ground-breaking research in the late 1980s that showed that uncircumcised men were more susceptible to contracting HIV/AIDS than circumcised men.
The collection contains correspondence, field research, research files, writings, day planners, teaching files, student files,
photographs, maps, sound recordings, and electronic records. Reining's research files, particularly on the Red Lake Ojibwa, the Haya, HIV/AIDS, and satellite imagery, form a significant portion of the collection.
Scope and Contents:
These papers primarily document the professional life of Priscilla Reining. The collection contains correspondence, field research, research files, writings, day planners, teaching files, student files, photographs, maps, sound recordings, and electronic records.
Reining's research files, particularly on the Red Lake Ojibwa, the Haya, HIV/AIDS, and satellite imagery, form a significant portion of the collection. Her consultancy work is also well-represented, as well as her involvement in a large number of professional organizations. The collection also contains a great deal of material relating to her work on different programs and projects at AAAS, including the Committee on Arid Lands, Ethnography of Reproduction Project, and Cultural Factors in Population Programs. Also present in the collection are materials from her time as Urgent Anthropology Program Coordinator at the Smithsonian Institution, her files as an instructor and professor, and her files as a student at University of Chicago. Materials from her personal life can also be found in the collection, such as correspondence and childhood mementos.
The Priscilla Reining papers are organized in 13 series: 1. Correspondence, 1944-2007; 2. Research, 1955-1970; 3. AAAS, 1971-1990; 4. Professional Activities, 5. 1957-2007; Daily Planners and Notebooks, 1960-2002; 6. Writings, 1952-1996; 7. Smithsonian Institution, 1964-1971; 8. University, 1958-1994; 9. Student, 1937-1975; 10. Biographical and Personal Files, 1934-2004; 11. Maps, 1916-1989, undated; 12. Photographs, circa 1950-1987, undated; 13. Electronic records.
Biographical / Historical:
Priscilla Copeland Reining was a social anthropologist and Africanist who worked for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from 1974 to 1989. Her area of specialty was sub-Saharan Africa, specializing in desertification, land tenure, land use, kinship, population, fertility, and HIV/AIDS. During the 1970s, she pioneered the use of satellite imagery in conjunction with ethnographic data. She is also known for her ground-breaking research in the late 1980s that showed that uncircumcised men were more susceptible to contracting HIV/AIDS than circumcised men.
Reining was born on March 11, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois. She studied anthropology at University of Chicago, where she earned both her A.B. (1945) and Ph.D. (1967) in anthropology. During her graduate studies, she studied peer group relations among the Ojibwa of the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota (1947, 1950-51). Her husband, Conrad Reining, accompanied her to the field, an experience that inspired him to also become an anthropologist.
In 1951-53 and 1954-55, Reining conducted fieldwork among the Haya of Bukoba District, Tanganyika (now known as Tanzania) as a Fellow of the East African Institute of Social Research. While research for her dissertation focused on the agrarian system of the Haya, Reining also conducted fertility surveys for the East African Medical Survey, studying the relationship between STDs and fertility in Buhaya and Buganda. During the 1980s, Reining became interested in AIDS when she observed that the Haya were dying from the disease at a much higher rate than neighboring groups. When she learned of a possible link between circumcision and the spread of HIV, she drew a map of circumcision practice among the ethnic groups of Africa and found that uncircumcised men were 86% more likely to contract HIV than circumcised men. These results were published in "The Relationship Between Male Circumcision and HIV Infection in African Populations" (1989), which she coauthored with John Bongaarts, Peter Way, and Francis Conant.
Beginning in the 1970s, Reining began exploring the use of satellite imagery in ethnographic research. In 1973, she used Landsat data to identify individual Mali villages, the first use of satellite data in anthropology (Morán 1990). That same year, as a consultant for USAID, she also used ERTS-1 imagery to estimate carrying capacity in Niger and Upper Volta (now known as Burkino Faso). She continued to apply satellite data in her research throughout her career, including in 1993, when she returned to Tanzania to study the environmental consequence of population growth and HIV/AIDS among the Haya.
In 1974, Reining joined the Office of International Science of AAAS as a research associate. She stayed on to become Project Director for the Cultural Factors in Population Programs and to direct a number of projects under the Committee on Arid Lands. She also served as Project Director of the Ethnography of Reproduction project, for which she conducted fieldwork in Kenya in 1976. In 1990, she left AAAS for an appointment as Courtesy Professor of African Studies at University of Florida.
Prior to working for AAAS, Reining worked at the Smithsonian Institution (1966, 1968-70), during which she was the coordinator for the Urgent Anthropology Program in the now defunct Center for the Study of Man. She also taught at University of Minnesota (1956-59), American University (1959-60), and Howard University (1960-64). In addition, she worked as a consultant for various organizations, including Department of Justice, Peace Corps, International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (IBRD), Food and Agriculture Organization, and Carrying Capacity Network.
Reining was also actively involved in various organizations. She served as Secretary of the AAAS Section H (Anthropology) and was a founding member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Task Force on AIDS. She was also a fellow of the African Studies Association, AAA, AAAS, East African Academy, Society for Applied Anthropology, and Washington Academy of Science. In 1990, she was honored with a Distinguished Service Award from AAA.
Reining died of lung cancer at the age of 84 on July 19, 2007.
PR Vita. Series 10. Biographical and Personal Files. Priscilla Reining Papers. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Morán, Emilio F. 2000. The Ecosystem Approach in Anthropology: From Concept to Practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. Page 359
Schudel, Matt. 2007. Anthropologist Broke Ground on AIDS, Satellite Mapping. Washington Post, July 29. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/28/AR2007072801190.html (accessed December 8, 2011).
1923 -- Born March 11 in Chicago, Illinois
1944 -- Marries Conrad C. Reining
1945 -- Earns A.B. from University of Chicago
1947, 1950-51 -- Conducts field research on the Ojibwa of Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota.
1949 -- Earns A.M. from University of Chicago
1951-1953, 1954-1955 -- Field research on Haya of Tanzania
1967 -- Earns Ph.D. from University of Chicago
1972 -- Returns to Tanzania for IBRD consultancy work
1974 -- Begins working at AAAS as a research associate in the Office of International Science
1975 -- Project Director, AAAS
1976 -- Field research on Kikuyu of Kenya for Ethnography of Reproduction
1986-89 -- Program Director, AAAS
1990 -- Courtesy Professor of African Studies at University of Florida Receives Distinguished Service Award from AAA
1993 -- Field research in Tanzania studying environmental consequences of population growth and HIV/AIDS among the Haya
2007 -- Dies of lung cancer at the age of 84 on July 19
Additional materials at the NAA relating to Priscilla Reining can be found in the papers of Gordon Gibson and John Murra, as well as in the records of the Center for the Study of Man and the records of the Department of Anthropology. Photo Lot 97 contains two Haya photos taken by Reining that are not duplicated in this collection. The papers of her husband, Conrad Reining, are also at the NAA.
The archives of the American Association for the Advancement of Science also holds Reining's papers relating to her work for the organization.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Priscilla Reining's sons, Robert Reining and Conrad Reining, in 2009.
The Priscilla Reining papers are open for research.
Some materials from the East African Medical Survey and Ethnography of Reproduction project contain personal medical history and are thus restricted. Grant applications sent to Reining to review are also restricted as well as her students' grades, and recommendation letters Reining wrote for her students. Electronic records are also restricted.
A small portion of the materials relating to Reining's Haya research, Ethnography of Reproduction project, and IBRD ujamaa research suffered severe mold damage. These materials have been cleaned and may be accessed. The legibility of some of the documents, however, is limited due to water and mold stains. Mold odor is also still present.