Scherer, Joanna Cohan, Jacknis, Ira, and Merrill, William L. 2022. "The Handbook: A Retrospective." In Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 1, Introduction. Krupnik, Igor, editor. 561–581. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press.
Scherer, Joanna Cohan. 2022. "Production of the Handbook 1970-2008." In Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 1, Introduction. Krupnik, Igor, editor. 531–548. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Scholarly Press.
Goddard, Ives. 1996. "The Classification of the Native Languages of North America." In Languages. Goddard, Ives, editor. 290–323. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. In Handbook of North American Indians, 17.
These papers reflect the professional and personal life of Frederica de Laguna. The collection contains correspondence, field notes, writings, newspaper clippings, writings by others, subject files, sound recordings, photographs, and maps. A significant portion of the collection consists of de Laguna's correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and students, as well as her informants from the field. Her correspondence covers a wide range of subjects such as family, health, preparations for field work, her publications and projects, the Northwest Coast, her opinions on the state of anthropology, and politics. The field notes in the collection mainly represent de Laguna and her assistants' work in the Northern Tlingit region of Alaska from 1949 to 1954. In addition, the collection contains materials related to her work in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario in 1947 and Catherine McClellan's field journal for her research in Aishihik, Yukon Territory in 1968. Most of the audio reels in the collection are field recordings made by de Laguna, McClellan, and Marie-Françoise Guédon of vocabulary and songs and speeches at potlatches and other ceremonies from 1952 to 1969. Tlingit and several Athabaskan languages including Atna, Tutchone, Upper Tanana, and Tanacross are represented in the recordings. Also in the collection are copies of John R. Swanton's Tlingit recordings and Hiroko Hara Sue's recordings among the Hare Indians. Additional materials related to de Laguna's research on the Northwest Coast include her notes on clans and tribes in Series VI: Subject Files and her notes on Tlingit vocabulary and Yakutat names specimens in Series X: Card Files. Drafts and notes for Voyage to Greenland, Travels Among the Dena, and The Tlingit Indians can be found in the collection as well as her drawings for her dissertation and materials related to her work for the Handbook of North American Indians and other publications. There is little material related to Under Mount Saint Elias except for correspondence, photocopies and negatives of plates, and grant applications for the monograph. Of special interest among de Laguna's writings is a photocopy of her historical fiction novel, The Thousand March. Other materials of special interest are copies of her talks, including her AAA presidential address, and the dissertation of Regna Darnell, a former student of de Laguna's. In addition, materials on the history of anthropology are in the collection, most of which can found with her teaching materials. Although the bulk of the collection documents de Laguna's professional years, the collection also contains newspaper articles and letters regarding her exceptional performance as a student at Bryn Mawr College and her undergraduate and graduate report cards. Only a few photographs of de Laguna can be found in the collection along with photographs of her 1929 and 1979 trips to Greenland.
Scope and Contents:
These papers reflect the professional and personal life of Frederica de Laguna. The collection contains correspondence, field notes, writings, newspaper clippings, writings by others, subject files, sound recordings, photographs, and maps.
A significant portion of the collection consists of de Laguna's correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and students, as well as her informants from the field. Her correspondence covers a wide range of subjects such as family, health, preparations for field work, her publications and projects, the Northwest Coast, her opinions on the state of anthropology, and politics. Among her notable correspondents are Kaj Birket-Smith, J. Desmond Clark, Henry Collins, George Foster, Viola Garfield, Marie-Françoise Guédon, Diamond Jenness, Michael Krauss, Therkel Mathiassen, Catharine McClellan, and Wallace Olson. She also corresponded with several eminent anthropologists including Franz Boas, William Fitzhugh, J. Louis Giddings, Emil Haury, June Helm, Melville Herskovitz, Alfred Kroeber, Helge Larsen, Alan Lomax, Margaret Mead, Froelich Rainey, Leslie Spier, Ruth Underhill, James VanStone, Annette Weiner, and Leslie White.
The field notes in the collection mainly represent de Laguna and her assistants' work in the Northern Tlingit region of Alaska from 1949 to 1954. In addition, the collection contains materials related to her work in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario in 1947 and Catharine McClellan's field journal for her research in Aishihik, Yukon Territory in 1968. Most of the audio reels in the collection are field recordings made by de Laguna, McClellan, and Marie-Françoise Guédon of vocabulary and songs and speeches at potlatches and other ceremonies from 1952 to 1969. Tlingit and several Athapaskan languages including Atna, Tutochone, Upper Tanana, and Tanacross are represented in the recordings. Also in the collection are copies of John R. Swanton's Tlingit recordings and Hiroko Hara's recordings among the Hare Indians. Additional materials related to de Laguna's research on the Northwest Coast include her notes on clans and tribes in Series VI: Subject Files and her notes on Tlingit vocabulary and Yakutat names specimens in Series 10: Card Files.
Drafts and notes for Voyage to Greenland, Travels Among the Dena, and The Tlingit Indians can be found in the collection as well as her drawings for her dissertation and materials related to her work for the Handbook of North American Indians and other publications. There is little material related to Under Mount Saint Elias except for correspondence, photocopies and negatives of plates, and grant applications for the monograph. Of special interest among de Laguna's writings is a photocopy of her historical fiction novel, The Thousand March.
Other materials of special interest are copies of her talks, including her AAA presidential address, and the dissertation of Regna Darnell, a former student of de Laguna's. In addition, materials on the history of anthropology are in the collection, most of which can found with her teaching materials. The collection also contains copies of photographs from the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899. Although the bulk of the collection documents de Laguna's professional years, the collection also contains newspaper articles and letters regarding her exceptional performance as a student at Bryn Mawr College and her undergraduate and graduate report cards. Only a few photographs of de Laguna can be found in the collection along with photographs of her 1929 and 1979 trips to Greenland.
Frederica Annis Lopez de Leo de Laguna was a pioneering archaeologist and ethnographer of northwestern North America. Known as Freddy by her friends, she was one of the last students of Franz Boas. She served as first vice-president of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) from 1949 to 1950 and as president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) from 1966-1967. She also founded the anthropology department at Bryn Mawr College where she taught from 1938 to 1972. In 1975, she and Margaret Mead, a former classmate, were the first women to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Born on October 3, 1906 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, de Laguna was the daughter of Theodore Lopez de Leo de Laguna and Grace Mead Andrus, both philosophy professors at Bryn Mawr College. Often sick as a child, de Laguna was home-schooled by her parents until she was 9. She excelled as a student at Bryn Mawr College, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in politics and economics in 1927. She was awarded the college's prestigious European fellowship, which upon the suggestion of her parents, she deferred for a year to study anthropology at Columbia University under Boas. Her parents had recently attended a lecture given by Boas and felt that anthropology would unite her interests in the social sciences and her love for the outdoors.
After a year studying at Columbia with Boas, Gladys Reichard, and Ruth Benedict, de Laguna was still uncertain whether anthropology was the field for her. Nevertheless, she followed Boas's advice to spend her year abroad studying the connection between Eskimo and Paleolithic art, which would later became the topic of her dissertation. In the summer of 1928, she gained fieldwork experience under George Grant MacCurdy visiting prehistoric sites in England, France, and Spain. In Paris, she attended lectures on prehistoric art by Abbe Breuil and received guidance from Paul Rivet and Marcelin Boule. Engaged to an Englishman she had met at Columbia University, de Laguna decided to also enroll at the London School of Economics in case she needed to earn her degree there. She took a seminar with Bronislaw Malinowski, an experience she found unpleasant and disappointing.
It was de Laguna's visit to the National Museum in Copenhagen to examine the archaeological collections from Central Eskimo that became the turning point in her life. During her visit, she met Therkel Mathiassen who invited her to be his assistant on what would be the first scientific archaeological excavation in Greenland. She sailed off with him in June 1929, intending to return early in August. Instead, she decided to stay until October to finish the excavation with Mathiassen, now convinced that her future lay in anthropology. When she returned from Greenland she broke off her engagement with her fiancé, deciding that she would not able to both fully pursue a career in anthropology and be the sort of wife she felt he deserved. Her experiences in Greenland became the subject of her 1977 memoir, Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology.
The following year, Kaj Birket-Smith, whom de Laguna had also met in Copenhagen, agreed to let her accompany him as his research assistant on his summer expedition to Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. When Birket-Smith fell ill and was unable to go, de Laguna was determined to continue on with the trip. She convinced the University of Pennsylvania Museum to fund her trip to Alaska to survey potential excavation sites and took as her assistant her 20 year old brother, Wallace, who became a geologist. A close family, de Laguna's brother and mother would later accompany her on other research trips.
In 1931, the University of Pennsylvania Museum hired de Laguna to catalogue Eskimo collections. They again financed her work in Cook Inlet that year as well as the following year. In 1933, she earned her PhD from Columbia and led an archaeological and ethnological expedition of the Prince William Sound with Birket-Smith. They coauthored "The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska," published in 1938. In 1935, de Laguna led an archaeological and geological reconnaissance of middle and lower Yukon Valley, traveling down the Tanana River. Several decades later, the 1935 trip contributed to two of her books: Travels Among the Dena, published in 1994, and Tales From the Dena, published in 1997.
In 1935 and 1936, de Laguna worked briefly as an Associate Soil Conservationist, surveying economic and social conditions on the Pima Indian Reservation in Arizona. She later returned to Arizona during the summers to conduct research and in 1941, led a summer archaeological field school under the sponsorship of Bryn Mawr College and the Museum of Northern Arizona.
By this time, de Laguna had already published several academic articles and was also the author of three fiction books. Published in 1930, The Thousand March: Adventures of an American Boy with the Garibaldi was her historical fiction book for juveniles. She also wrote two detective novels: The Arrow Points to Murder (1937) and Fog on the Mountain (1938). The Arrow Points to Murder is set in a museum based on her experiences at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the American Museum of National History. Fog on the Mountain is set in Cook Inlet and draws upon de Laguna's experiences in Alaska. Both detective novels helped to finance her research.
De Laguna began her long career at Bryn Mawr College in 1938 when she was hired as a lecturer in the sociology department to teach the first ever anthropology course at the college. By 1950, she was chairman of the joint department of Sociology and Anthropology, and in 1967, the chairman of the newly independent Anthropology Department. She was also a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania (1947-1949; 1972-1976) and at the University of California, Berkeley (1959-1960; 1972-1973.)
During World War II, de Laguna took a leave of absence from Bryn Mawr College to serve in the naval reserve from 1942 to 1945. As a member of WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), she taught naval history and codes and ciphers to women midshipmen at Smith College. She took great pride in her naval service and in her later years joined the local chapter of WAVES National, an organization for former and current members of WAVES.
In 1950, de Laguna returned to Alaska to work in the Northern Tlingit region. Her ethnological and archaeological study of the Tlingit Indians brought her back several more times throughout the 1950s and led to the publication of Under Mount Saint Elias in 1972. Her comprehensive three-volume monograph is still considered the authoritative work on the Yakutat Tlingit. In 1954, de Laguna turned her focus to the Atna Indians of Copper River, returning to the area in 1958, 1960, and 1968.
De Laguna retired from Bryn Mawr College in 1972 under the college's mandatory retirement policy. Although she suffered from many ailments in her later years including macular degeneration, she remained professionally active. Five decades after her first visit to Greenland, de Laguna returned to Upernavik in 1979 to conduct ethnographic investigations. In 1985, she finished editing George Thornton Emmons' unpublished manuscript The Tlingit Indians. A project she had begun in 1955, the book was finally published in 1991. In 1986, she served as a volunteer consultant archaeologist and ethnologist for the U. S. Forest Service in Alaska. In 1994, she took part in "More than Words . . ." Laura Bliss Spann's documentary on the last Eyak speaker, Maggie Smith Jones. By 2001, de Laguna was legally blind. Nevertheless, she continued working on several projects and established the Frederica de Laguna Northern Books Press to reprint out-of-print literature and publish new scholarly works on Arctic cultures.
Over her lifetime, de Laguna received several honors including her election into the National Academy Sciences in 1976, the Distinguished Service Award from AAA in 1986, and the Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. De Laguna's work, however, was respected by not only her colleagues but also by the people she studied. In 1996, the people of Yakutat honored de Laguna with a potlatch. Her return to Yakutat was filmed by Laura Bliss Spann in her documentary Reunion at Mt St. Elias: The Return of Frederica de Laguna to Yakutat.
At the age of 98, Frederica de Laguna passed away on October 6, 2004.
Darnell, Regna. "Frederica de Laguna (1906-2004)." American Anthropologist 107.3 (2005): 554-556.
de Laguna, Frederica. Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology. New York: W.W. Norton Co, 1977.
McClellan, Catharine. "Frederica de Laguna and the Pleasures of Anthropology." American Ethnologist 16.4 (1989): 766-785.
Olson, Wallace M. "Obituary: Frederica de Laguna (1906-2004)." Arctic 58.1 (2005): 89-90.
Although this collection contains a great deal of correspondence associated with her service as president of AAA, most of her presidential records can be found in American Anthropological Association Records 1917-1972. Also at the National Anthropological Archives are her transcripts of songs sung by Yakutat Tlingit recorded in 1952 and 1954 located in MS 7056 and her notes and drawings of Dorset culture materials in the National Museum of Canada located in MS 7265. The Human Studies Film Archive has a video oral history of de Laguna conducted by Norman Markel (SC-89.10.4).
Related collections can also be found in other repositories. The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania holds materials related to work that de Laguna carried out for the museum from the 1930s to the 1960s. Materials relating to her fieldwork in Angoon and Yakutat can be found in the Rasmuson Library of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the papers of Francis A. Riddell, a field assistant to de Laguna in the early 1950s. Original photographs taken in the field in Alaska were deposited in the Alaska State Library, Juneau. Both the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress and the American Philosophical Library have copies of her field recordings and notes. The American Museum of Natural History has materials related to her work editing George T. Emmons' manuscript. De Laguna's papers can also be found at the Bryn Mawr College Archives.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Frederica de Laguna.
Some of the original field notes are restricted due to Frederica de Laguna's request to protect the privacy of those accused of witchcraft. The originals are restricted until 2030. Photocopies may be made with the names of the accused redacted.
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Anthropology Search this
Smithsonian Institution. Department of Anthropology Search this
Smithsonian Institution. United States National Museum. Department of Anthropology Search this
330.25 Linear feet (519 boxes)
Some materials are held off-site; this will be indicated at the series or sub-series level. Advanced notice must be given to view these portions of the collection.
The Department of Anthropology records contain administrative and research materials produced by the department and its members from the time of the Smithsonian Institution's foundation until today.
Scope and Contents:
The Department of Anthropology records contain correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, memoranda, invoices, meeting minutes, fiscal records, annual reports, grant applications, personnel records, receipts, and forms. The topics covered in the materials include collections, exhibits, staff, conservation, acquisitions, loans, storage and office space, administration, operations, research, budgets, security, office procedures, and funding. The materials were created by members of the Section of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, the Division of Anthropology of the United States National Museum, the Office of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History, and the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History and range in date from before the founding of the Smithsonian Institution to today. The Department of Anthropology records also contain some materials related to the Bureau of American Ethnology, such as documents from the River Basin Surveys.
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.
This collection is arranged in 28 series: (1) Correspondence, 1902-1908, 1961-1992; (2) Alpha-Subject File, 1828-1963; (3) Alpha-Subject File, 1961-1975; (4) Smithsonian Office of Anthropology Subject Files, 1967-1968; (5) River Basin Survey Files, 1965-1969; (6) Research Statements, Proposals, and Awards, 1961-1977 (bulk 1966-1973); (7) Publication File, 1960-1975; (8) Memoranda and Lists Concerning Condemnations, 1910-1965; (9) Notebook on Special Exhibits, 1951-1952 (10) Section on Animal Industry; (11) Administrative Records, 1891-1974; (12) Administrative Records, 1965-1994 (bulk 1975-1988); (13) Fiscal Records, 1904-1986; (14) Annual Reports, 1920-1983; (15) Chairman's Office Files, 1987-1993; (16) Division of Archaeology, 1828-1965; (17) Division of Ethnology, 1840s, 1860-1972, 1997; (18) Division of Physical Anthropology; (19) Division of Cultural Anthropology, 1920-1968; (20) Records of the Anthropological Laboratory/Anthropology Conservation and Restoration Laboratory, 1939-1973; (21) Collections Management, 1965-1985; (22) Photographs of Specimens and Other Subjects (Processing Laboratory Photographs), 1880s-1950s; (23) Exhibit Labels, Specimen Labels, Catalog Cards, and Miscellaneous Documents, circa 1870-1950; (24) Antiquities Act Permits, 1904-1986; (25) Ancient Technology Program, circa 1966-1981; (26) Urgent Anthropology; (27) Records of the Handbook of North American Indians; (28) Personnel; (29) Repatriation Office, 1991-1994
The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846. Although there was no department of anthropology until the creation of the Section of Ethnology in 1879, anthropological materials were part of the Smithsonian's collection from its foundation. The Section of Ethnology was created to care for the rapidly growing collection. In 1881, the United States National Museum was established. Soon thereafter, in 1883, it was broken up into divisions, including the Division of Anthropology. In 1904, Physical Anthropology was added to the Division.
The Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) was created in 1879 as a research unit of the Smithsonian, separating research from collections care. However, during the 1950s, research became a higher priority for the Department of Anthropology and, in 1965, the BAE was merged with the Department of Anthropology to create the Office of Anthropology, and the BAE's archives became the National Anthropological Archives (NAA).
In 1967, the United States National Museum was broken up into three separate museums: the Musuem of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), the National Museum of American Art, and the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The Office of Anthropology was included in NMNH and was renamed the Department of Anthropology in 1968.
New divisions were added to the Department, including the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA) in 1981, the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES) in 1982, and the Repatriation Office in 1993. In 1983, the Smithsonian opened the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland, as offsite housing for collections with specialized storage facilities and conservation labs.
The Department of Anthropology is currently the largest department within NMNH. It has three curatorial divisions (Ethnology, Archaeology, and Biological Anthropology) and its staff includes curators, research assistants, program staff, collections specialists, archivists, repatriation tribal liaisons, and administrative specialists. It has a number of outreach and research arms, including the Repatriation Office, Recovering Voices, Human Origins, and the Arctic Studies Center.
The Museum is home to one of the world's largest anthropology collections, with over three million specimens in archaeology, ethnology, and human skeletal biology. The NAA is the Smithsonian's oldest archival repository, with materials that reflect over 150 years of anthropological collecting and fieldwork. The HSFA is the only North American archive devoted exclusively to the collection and preservation of anthropological film and video.
National Museum of Natural History. "Department of Anthropology: About" Accessed April 13, 2020. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/research/anthropology/about
National Museum of Natural History. "History of Anthropology at the Smithsonian." Accessed April 13, 2020. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/sites/default/files/media/file/history-anthropology-si.pdf
National Museum of Natural History. "History of the Smithsonian Combined Catalog." Accessed April 13, 2020 https://sirismm.si.edu/siris/sihistory.htm
1846 -- The Smithsonian Institution is founded
1879 -- George Catlin bequeaths his collection to the Smithsonian The Section of Ethnology is established to oversee ethnological and archaeological collections The Bureau of Ethnology is established by Congress as a research unit of the Smithsonian
1881 -- The U.S. National Museum (USNM) is established as a separate entity within the Smithsonian Institution
1883 -- The staff and collections of the USNM are reorganized into divisions, including a Division of Anthropology
1897 -- The United States National Museum is reorganized into three departments: Anthropology headed by W. H. Holmes; Biology with F. W. True as head; and Geology with G. P. Merrill in charge The Bureau of Ethnology is renamed the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) to emphasize the geographic limit of its interests
1903 -- The Division of Physical Anthropology established
1904 -- The Division of Physical Anthropology is incorporated into the Division of Anthropology
1910 -- The USNM moves into the new Natural History Building
1965 -- The Smithsonian Office of Anthropology is created on February 1 The BAE is eliminated and merged with the Office of Anthropology
1968 -- The Smithsonian Office of Anthropology (SOA) of the National Museum of Natural History is retitled the Department of Anthropology on October 29
1973 -- The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES) is established at the National Museum of Natural History's (NMNH) Center for the Study of Man (CSM) to study the waves of immigration to the United States and its overseas outposts that began in the 1960's
1975 -- The National Anthropological Film Center is established
1981 -- The National Anthropological Film Center is incorporated into the Department of Anthropology
1982 -- The RIIES, part of the CSM at the NMNH, is transferred to the Department of Anthropology
1991 -- NMNH establishes a Repatriation Office
1993 -- The Repatriation Office is incorporated into the Department of Anthropology
Head Curators and Department Chairs
1897-1902 -- William Henry Holmes
1902-1903 -- Otis T. Mason (acting)
1904-1908 -- Otis T. Mason
1908-1909 -- Walter Hough (acting)
1910-1920 -- William Henry Holmes
1920-1923 -- Walter Hough (acting)
1923-1935 -- Walter Hough
1935-1960 -- Frank M. Setzler
1960-1962 -- T. Dale Stewart
1963-1965 -- Waldo R. Wedel
1965-1967 -- Richard Woodbury
1967-1970 -- Saul H. Riesenberg
1970-1975 -- Clifford Evans
1975-1980 -- William W. Fitzhugh
1980-1985 -- Douglas H. Ubelaker
1985-1988 -- Adrienne L. Kaeppler
1988-1992 -- Donald J. Ortner
1992-1999 -- Dennis Stanford
1999-2002 -- Carolyn L. Rose
2002-2005 -- William W. Fitzhugh
2005-2010 -- J. Daniel Rogers
2010-2014 -- Mary Jo Arnoldi
2014-2018 -- Torbin Rick
2018- -- Igor Krupnik
The NAA holds collections of former head curators and department chairs, including the papers of Otis Tufton Mason, Walter Hough, T. Dale Stewart, Waldo Rudolph and Mildred Mott Wedel, Saul H. Riesenberg, Clifford Evans, and Donald J. Ortner; the photographs of Frank Maryl Setzler; and the Richard B. Woodbury collection of drawings of human and animal figures.
Other related collections at the NAA include the papers of Gordon D. Gibson, Eugene I. Knez, and Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans; and the records of the Bureau of American Ethnology, the Center for the Study of Man, and the River Basin Surveys.
This collection was transferred to the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) by the National Museum of Natural History's Department of Anthropology in multiple accessions.
Some materials are restricted.
Access to the Department of Anthropology records requires an appointment.