William Duncan Strong's early interest was in zoology, but, while an undergraduate at the University of California, he was brought into anthropology under the influence of Alfred Louis Kroeber. He conducted archaeological and ethnological field research in several areas of the New World and was the first professionally trained archaeologist to focus on the Great Plains, where he applied the so-called direct historical method, working from known history in interpreting archaeological sites. Strong's papers include correspondence, field notes, diaries, newspaper clippings, teaching notes and student papers, manuscripts of his writings, writings by other authors, papers from the various organizations in which he served, maps, and a considerable number of photographs from his field work. The materials date from 1902 to 1965, with most of the materials being from 1927 to 1955.
Scope and Contents:
Strong's papers include correspondence, field notes, diaries, newspaper clippings, teaching notes and student papers, manuscripts of his writings, writings by other authors, papers from the various organizations in which he served, maps, and a considerable number of photographs from his field work. The materials date from 1902 to 1965, with most of the materials being from 1927 to 1955.
Strong's papers reflect his professional life, but there is little personal material. Except for the Rawson-MacMillan Labrador Expedition, there is little information from Strong's years at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Other than information on field work expenses, there is little light shed on Strong's personal financial situation. There is no personal correspondence with either of his wives and little correspondence with family members, except for his brother, Ronald. Some correspondence from the late 1930s to the early 1940s is not present and its whereabouts is not known. Of special interest is a collection of drawings by Naskapi Indian children collected while Strong was on the Labrador expedition in 1928. Strong collected obituaries, vitae, news articles, and writings on and by other anthropologists. He was an inveterate doodler, and his fascinating creations appear throughout the papers.
Strong also collected materials from other researchers, including Loren Eiseley's 1931 field notes from the Morrill Expedition, Maurice Kirby's 1932 notes on the Signal Butte excavations, notes and drawings from the 1936 Honduras expedition by Alfred V. Kidder II, and the field notebooks kept by Clifford Evans for the 1946 Virú Valley expedition in Peru. Contributed photographs from field expeditions are from A.T. Hill, Waldo Wedel, and John Champe.
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 arranged in 12 series: (1) Miscellaneous personal papers, 1914-1963; (2) Correspondence, 1922-1965; (3) Materials relating to field work, 1921-1963; (4) Miscellaneous research notes, 1917-1960, most undated; (5) Maps and charts, 1902-1949; (6) Drawings by Naskapi Indians and Eskimos, 1910, 1928; (7) Manuscripts of writings, 1922-1962, undated; (8) Writings by other authors, 1902-1961; (9) Papers relating to organizations, 1926-1961; (10) Teaching materials and course work, 1909, 1928-1961; (11) Miscellany, 1902-1961, most undated; (12) Photographs, 1913-1950.
William Duncan Strong (1899-1962) was a major figure in American anthropology. His accomplishments were as a field worker in archaeology and ethnology, archaeological theorist, writer, and teacher. He was, furthermore, a leader in anthropological organizations. In 1954, his position in the field was recognized by the award of the Viking Fund Medal for his contributions to archaeology.
William Duncan Strong's early interest was in zoology, but, while an undergraduate at the University of California, he was brought into anthropology under the influence of Alfred Louis Kroeber. He conducted archaeological and ethnological field research in several areas of the New World, including Labrador, southern California, Honduras, and Peru. Strong was the first professionally trained archaeologist to focus on the Great Plains, and it was there that he applied the so-called direct historical method, working from known history in interpreting archaeological sites. His work in all these areas are represented by notebooks, diaries, specimen catalogues, maps, and photographs.
Strong spent the majority of his professional life affiliated with various universities and taught many anthropologists who became influential in their own right. His students included Loren Eiseley, Waldo R. Wedel, Joseph Jablow, Oscar Lewis, John Landgraf, Dorothy Keur, David Stout, Charles Wagley, Eleanor Leacock, John Champe, Albert C. Spaulding, Victor Barnouw, John M. Corbett, Walter Fairservis, and Richard B. Woodbury. Strong preserved the student papers by some of these anthropologists as well as their correspondence with him.
Strong influenced American anthropology by his service in professional societies. He served as president of the American Ethnological Society, the Institute of Andean Research, and the Society for American Archaeology. He was the director of the Ethnogeographic Board (his journal from his tenure as director is in the papers) and chairman of the Committee on Basic Needs of American Archaeology. In this latter capacity, Strong was involved in establishing a program to salvage archaeological sites before they were destroyed by public works. Strong served as the anthropological consultant to the Bureau of Indian Affairs during Franklin Roosevelt's administration and advised on new directions to be taken in Indian Service policy.
Strong died suddenly on January 29, 1962.
1899 -- Born January 30 in Portland, Oregon
1917 April-1919 January -- In the United States Navy aboard the U.S.S. South Dakota on convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean
1922 -- Collected faunal specimens in the Canadian Rockies, Skeena River district, for the University of California Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
1923 -- A.B., University of California Studied Max Uhle's Peruvian archaeological collection Collected faunal specimens, Columbia River, Washington
Winter, 1923-1924 -- Archaeological investigations in the southern San Joaquin Valley, California under the direction of Edwin Winslow Gifford
1924-1925 -- Expedition to study Shoshonean tribes (the Serrano, Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Luiseño) of Southern California (Riverside and San Diego counties) under Alfred Louis Kroeber Archaeological surveys and excavations of three months each in the middle Columbia River Valley in Oregon and Washington
1925 -- Archaeological expedition and collection of faunal specimens in the San Pedro Martir Mountains, Baja California under W. Egbert Schenk
1925-1926 -- Research Assistant, Department of Anthropology, University of California
1926 -- PhD, Anthropology, University of California
1926 July-1929 August -- Assistant Curator of North American Ethnology and Archaeology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
1927 -- An Analysis of Southwestern Society (doctoral dissertation)
1927 June-1928 September -- Anthropologist on the Rawson-MacMillan September, 1928 Subarctic Expedition of the Field Museum Studied Naskapi and Eskimos in Labrador and on Baffin Island
1929 -- Married Jean Stevens
1929 August-1931 July -- Professor of Anthropology, University of Nebraska
1929 -- Published The Aboriginal Society of Southern California
1929-1931 -- Director, Archaeological Survey of Nebraska, University of Nebraska
1930 June 11-September 6 -- Excavated at Rock Bluff cemetery site
1931 -- Helped organize the First Plains Conference (held August 31-September 2)
1931-1932 -- Morrill Expedition, central and western Nebraska and North and South Dakota: ethnological investigations of Arikaras at Nishu, North Dakota; excavation at Signal Butte, Nebraska; and excavation at Leavenworth and Rygh village sites in South Dakota
1931 July-1937 August -- Senior Anthropologist, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution
1932 -- Archaeological survey of northeastern Honduras along the Mosquito Coast and the Patuca River, archaeological work on the Bay Islands, and ethnological investigation of Sumu Indians
1933-1934 -- Two Civilian Works Administration archaeological expeditions (five months each) in California in southern San Joaquin Valley, Kern County, at Tulamniu (a Yokuts village) and eastern Chumash area
1934-1937 -- Trustee, Laboratory of Anthropology, Sante Fe
1935 -- Anthropological consultant to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Assistant editor, American Antiquity Published Archeological Investigations in the Bay islands, Spanish Honduras and An Introduction to Nebraska Archeology
1935-1937 -- Member, Committee on State Archeological Surveys, National Research Council
1936 -- Smithsonian Institution-Harvard expedition to northwestern Honduras to the valleys of the Chamelecon and the Ulua Rivers, Naco and other sites
1937-1962 -- Professor, later Chairman, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University
1937-1938 -- Vice-President, American Anthropological Association
1938 -- Fort Abraham Lincoln (Slant Mandan village) site and Sheyenne-Cheyenne village site excavations in North Dakota
1939 -- Chairman, National Research Council's Committee on Basic Needs in American Archaeology Excavated at Arzberger site in South Dakota and the area between the Chamberlain and Cheyenne Rivers
1940 -- Member, National Research Council's Committee on War Services of Anthropology Expeditions to western Florida and southwestern United States, especially New Mexico Peruvian archaeological survey
1941 -- Chairman, Section H, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1941-1942 -- President, American Ethnological Society Peruvian excavations at Pachacamac in the Chancay Valley and the Ancon-Supe excavations
1942? -- Peruvian excavations in the Naxca and Ica Valleys
1942-1944 -- Director, Ethnogeographic Board
1943 -- Published Cross Sections of New World Prehistory Appointed to Loubat Professorship at Columbia University
1945 -- Married Helen Richardson
1946 -- Peruvian excavations, Virú Valley Project National Research Council liaison member of the Committee for the Recovery of Archaeological Remains President, Institute of Andean Research
1948-1949 -- Chairman, Anthropology Section of New York Academy of Sciences
1949 July-August -- Peru-Mexico trip
1950 -- Talking Crow site expedition Excavated at Signal Butte
1952-1953 -- Peruvian expeditions, Nazca and Ica Valleys
1954 -- Awarded the Viking Fund Medal Trip to western United States
1955-1956 -- President, Society for American Archaeology
1962 -- Died January 29
1929 -- Strong, William Duncan. Aboriginal Society of Southern California. Vol. 26, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1929.
1935 -- Strong, William Duncan. Archeological Investigations in the Bay islands, Spanish Honduras. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1935. Strong, William Duncan. An Introduction to Nebraska Archeology. Vol. 93, no. 10, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1935.
1938 -- Strong, William Duncan, Alfred Kidder, II, and A.J. Drexel Pail, Jr. Preliminary Report on the Smithsonian Institution-Harvard University Archeological Expedition to Northwestern Honduras, 1936. Vol. 97, no. 1, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1938.
1943 -- Strong, William Duncan. Cross Sections of New World Prehistory: a Brief Report on the Work of the Institute of Andean Research, 1941-1942. Vol. 104, no. 2, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1943. Strong, William Duncan. Archeological Studies in Peru, 1941-1942. New York: Columbia University Press, 1943.
1948 -- "The Archeology of Honduras." In The Circum-Caribbean Tribes Vol. 4, Handbook of South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward, 71-120. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin No. 143. Washington: U.S. Government Print Office, 1948.
1952 -- Strong, William Duncan, and Clifford Evans. Cultural Stratigraphy in the Virú Valley, Northern Peru. New York: Columbia University Press, 1952.
For a complete bibliography of Strong's works, see Solecki, Ralph, and Charles Wagley. "William Duncan Strong, 1899-1962," American Anthropologist 65, no. 5 (October 1963): 1102-1111. https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/aa.1963.65.5.02a00080
Additional materials in the National Anthropological Archives relating to William Duncan Strong can be found in the records of the American Anthropological Association, Bureau of American Ethnology, Handbook of South American Indians, Institute of Social Anthropology, River Basin Surveys, the Society for American Archaeology, and Tulamniu Project (1933-1934); the papers of Ralph Leon Beals, John Peabody Harrington, Frederick Johnson, Frank Maryl Setzler, Ruth Schlossberg Landes, Albert Clanton Spaulding (including information on the Arzberger site), and Waldo Rudolph and Mildred Mott Wedel; Photographic Lot 14, Bureau of American Ethnology Subject and Geographic File; Photographic Lot 24, Bureau of American Ethnology-United States National Museum Photographs of American Indians; Photographic Lot 77-80, Portraits of Smithsonian Anthropologists; Photographic Lot 92-35, Ralph S. Solecki Photographs of Anthropologists; Numbered Collections, MS 4821 (records of the Anthropological Society of Washington), MS 4261 (photographs made on a site survey in the Santa Barbara Mountains, California, 1934), MS 4302 (journal covering the 1936 expedition to Honduras), MS 4846 (correspondence between BAE authors and the BAE editor's office), and MS 7200 (original field catalog of Honduran artifacts, 1936); and in the non-archival reference file. There are also materials in the Smithsonian Institution Archives in record units 87 (Ethnogeographic Board), 9528 (Henry Bascom Collins interviews), and 1050102 (papers of T. Wayland Vaughan). In the Human Studies Film Archives there is material on Strong in the video dialogues of Charles Wagley, 1983.
The Strong papers were donated to the archives by Strong's widow, Mrs. Helen Richardson Strong. Most of the arrangements were handled by Ralph S. Solecki, then of Columbia University. He sent the papers to the archives between 1974 and 1979, and there have been small accretions since that time. These accretions came through Richard G. Forbis, Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary; Mildred Mott Wedel and Waldo R. Wedel, Department of Anthropology; and Nan A. Rothschild, Department of Anthropology, Barnard College. Mrs. Strong donated the rights in the unpublished material in the collection to the Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution.
The William Duncan Strong papers are open for research.
Access to the William Duncan Strong papers requires and appointment.