Edmund Snow Carpenter (1922-2011) was an archaeologist and visual anthropologist who worked extensively with the indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arctic as well as Papua New Guinea. With his colleague and close collaborator Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), he laid the groundwork for modern media theory. Carpenter is also known for his work as an ethnographic filmmaker and as a collector of Paleo-Eskimo art. The Papers of Edmund Carpenter, circa 1938-2011, document the research interests and projects undertaken by Carpenter in the fields of cultural anthropology, ethnographic filmmaking, media theory, archaeology, and indigenous art.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Edmund Carpenter, 1940-2011, document the research interests and projects undertaken by Carpenter in the fields of cultural anthropology, ethnographic filmmaking, media theory, archaeology, and indigenous art. Specific research projects and interests documented are: his 1950s fieldwork among the Aivilik Inuit in the Canadian Arctic as well as his studies into Inuit concepts of space, time, and geography; his partnership and collaboration with media theorist Marshall McLuhan and his ethnographic studies of Papua New Guinean tribal communities; his early-career archaeological digs at Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) burial mounds in Sugar Run, Pennsylvania, as well as later archaeological interest in Arctic peoples, Siberia, and the Norwegian artifact dubbed the "Norse Penny"; his reflections on the disciplines of anthropology and media studies; his editing and completion of the work of art historian Carl Schuster at the Museum der Kulturen (Museum of Ethnology) in Basel, Switzerland; his editing of The Story of Comock the Eskimo, as told to Robert Flaherty; and his museum exhibitions compiled on the topics of surrealist and tribal art. The collection also documents Carpenter's correspondence with fellow scholars, ethnographers, filmmakers, and colleagues; his published writings; and elements of his personal life, such as obituaries and personal photographs.
Materials in this collection include artifact and burial records; correspondence; drawings and illustrations; essays; interviews and oral histories; inventories and catalogues; manuscripts and drafts, and fragments of drafts; maps; memoranda and meeting minutes; notes, notebooks, and data analysis; obituaries and memorials; photographic prints, slides, and negatives, including personal photographs and portraits; proposals and plans for museum exhibits; reports; resumes and bibliographies; reviews; and sound recordings on CD-Rs and audio cassettes. Additional materials include books and book chapters; journal copies and journal excerpts; magazine, newspaper, and article clippings and excerpts; museum and gallery catalogues, brochures, and guides; pamphlets; and reprints. A portion of the material collected here consist of consolidated research into specific topics, gathered from archival repositories, museums, correspondence, and published works. This material consists of research reprints and archival reference photocopies and photographic prints from various repositories.
Items worthy of special mention in this collection include: annotated draft chapters from Marshall McLuhan's seminal work on media theory, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Series 2); a 1957 letter from e. e. cummings to Carpenter, written in verse (Series 3); an undated thank-you note addressed to "Sadie" from Helen Keller (Series 3); and a transcript of an interview of Carpenter by his former student, Harald Prins (Series 2).
Audiovisual material in this collection is currently undergoing processing.
The collection is organized into the following 7 series:
Series 1. Fieldwork and drafts, 1940-2011 (bulk 1940-1959)
Series 2. Research and project files, 1940-2011
Series 3. Correspondence, circa 1938-2011
Series 4. Publications and lectures, circa 1942-circa 2006
Series 5. Personal, 1942-2011
Series 6. Film and visual material (in-process)
Series 7. Writings by others, 1960-2009, undated
Edmund Snow Carpenter (1922-2011) was an archaeologist and visual anthropologist who worked extensively with the indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arctic and Papua New Guinea. With his colleague and close collaborator Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), he laid the groundwork for modern media theory. Carpenter is also known for his work as an ethnographic filmmaker and as a collector of Paleo-Eskimo art.
Born in 1922 in Rochester, New York, Edmund (nicknamed "Ted") Carpenter served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950 under Frank Speck for work on Iroquoian prehistoric archaeology. Carpenter began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1948 while simultaneously working as a programmer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). In the 1950s, he undertook fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic among the Aivilik (an Inuit Igloolik subgroup). This fieldwork resulted in several publications in the field of cultural anthropology, including Time/Space Concepts of the Aivilik (1955), Anerca (1959), and Eskimo (1959, republished as Eskimo Realities in 1973).
Also in the 1950s, Carpenter began a working relationship with media theorist Marshall McLuhan. Together, they received a Ford Foundation grant (1953-1955) for an interdisciplinary media research project into the impact of mass communications and mass media on culture change. Carpenter and McLuhan's partnership resulted in the Seminar on Culture and Communication (1953-1959) and the journal series Explorations. In 1957, Carpenter was the founding chair in the interdisciplinary program "Anthropology and Art" at San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge). There, he collaborated with Bess Lomax Hawes and other colleagues in the production of several ethnographic films, including Georgia Sea Island Singers about Gullah (or Geechee) songs and dances. During this period, Carpenter worked with McLuhan on the latter's seminal book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964). The article published as "Fashion is Language" in Harper's Bazaar under McLuhan's name (1968) was actually written by Carpenter. It was later published in book form under Carpenter's name, with the title They Became What They Beheld (1970).
In 1969, Carpenter took a research professorship at the University of Papua and New Guinea sponsored by the government of Australia. Alongside photographer Adelaide De Menil (whom he would later marry), he applied many of the ideas about media literacy and culture change to indigenous communities of Papua New Guinea. These activities led to developments in the field of media ecology, as well as the publication of Carpenter's best-known work, Oh, What a Blow the Phantom Gave Me! (1976).
Carpenter taught intermittently at various universities throughout his career, including Fordham University, the University of California-Santa Cruz, Adelphi University, Harvard University's Center for Visual Anthropology, the New School for Social Research, and New York University. He spent eight years associated with the Museum of Ethnology in Basel, Switzerland (1973-1981), editing art historian Carl Schuster's research.
In addition to his teaching and research, Carpenter, with his wife Adelaide De Menil, collected tribal art, eventually amassing the largest private collection of Paleo-Eskimo art in the United States. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Carpenter curated various exhibitions on art and visual culture, including the Menil Collection's Witness to a Surrealist Vision and the Musée du Quai Branly's Upside Down (later reconstructed at the Menil Collection). In later years, Carpenter resumed his archaeological interest in Arctic peoples, researching and collaborating on the Zhokhov Island Mesolithic site in the Russian Arctic with Russian scientists from the Institute for the History of Material Culture and archaeologists from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
Carpenter died on July 1, 2011 at his home in New York.
Grimes, William. "Edmund Carpenter, Archaeologist and Anthropologist, Dies at 88." The New York Times. 2011 July 7. https://www.nytimes.com
Prins, Harald E. L. and John Bishop. "Edmund Carpenter: Explorations in Media and Anthropology." Visual Anthropology Review 17:2 (Fall-Winter 2001-2002): 110-140.
1922 September 2 -- Born in Rochester, New York
circa 1940-1941 -- Archaeological field work, Sugar Run mounds, Pennsylvania
1942-1946 -- Served in the United States Marine Corps
1948-1957 -- Anthropology Department, University of Toronto
circa 1950 -- Began work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
1950 -- Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology)
1950s -- Fieldwork among the Aivilik Inuit
1953-1959 -- Ran the Seminar on Culture and Communication with Marshall McLuhan
1957-1967 -- "Anthropology and Art" program at San Fernando Valley State College (California State University, Northridge)
1967-1968 -- Schwitzer Chair, Fordham University (with Marshall McLuhan)
1968-1969 -- Carnegie Chair in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz
1969-1970 -- Research Professor, University of Papua and New Guinea
1973-1981 -- Associated with the Museum of Ethnology in Basel, Switzerland for Carl Schuster papers project
circa 1989-2005 -- Collaboration regarding Zhokov Island archaeological site
2011 July 1 -- Died in East Hampton, New York
Film and video recordings are retained by the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA) as the Edmund Carpenter-Adelaide de Menil Collection (HSFA 2004-04). Once processing is complete, they will be described in the following finding aid in Series 6.
The Edmund Snow Carpenter papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives in 2017 by Adelaide de Menil on behalf of the Rock Foundation.
The Edmund Snow Carpenter papers are open for research.
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Digital media in the collection is restricted for preservation reasons.
Access to the Edmund Snow Carpenter papers requires an appointment.
Indians of North America -- Southern States Search this
Alaska -- Names, place
Alaska -- Names, tribal
Scope and Contents:
Contains vocabularies and other linguistic notes on a variety of American Indian languages. Mainly transcripts by Gatschet from other sources; includes some material recorded by Gatschet, and a few original manuscripts sent to him by others.
Contents: Alaska: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 49-52. Petroff, Ivan. "Aliaskan Names, Ivan Petroff." 2 pages, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. List of Alaskan place and tribal names with notes on each. Apalachee: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 103-104. [Gatschet, A. S.] Apalachee [vocabulary], with Pl[easant] Porter [Creek inft.]." 2 pages, in Gatschet's handwriting. Comparison of Apalachee words with Creek. Gatschet indicates: "(Copied in Apal. book, July 1889)." Beothuk: Ms. Vocabulary 1449, pages 27-41. [Gatschet, A. S.] Beothuk vocabularies, notes, and bibliographic references. 14 1/2 pages, mostly in Gatschet's handwriting. (pages 27-28 and 35-36 are in R. G. Latham's hand.) Working notes for Gatschet's published article on Beothuk -- comment by M. R. Haas, 11/58. California (Yuman ?): Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 122-123; 124 (?) Brown, J. Ross Extract from "J. Ross Brown. Sketch of the exploration of lower Cal. San Franc[isco ?], 1869. H. H. Bancroft & Co., 177 pp." 2 pages, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Miscellaneous notes on lower California tribes and languages, with list of some of the tribes in the area and their approximate locations. California: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 148. [Gatschet, A. S.] Bibliographic references relating to California. 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Furman, McDonald Ms Vocabulary 1449 file: Catawba. Page 159 "An Indian's Petition." No date. Newsclipping. 1 slip. Ms Vocabulary 1449 Woccon and Catawba comparative vocabulary No date. Autograph document. 6 pages. Pages 87-89 and 93-94. Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 186a and ff. Eells, M. Comparison of numerals in Chemakum, Quileute, and Hoh, 1 page and accompanying letter to A. S. Gatschet, August 24, 1883, from M. Eells, Skokomish, Mason Co., Wash., 2 pages, handwritten. Ms Vocabulary pages 108-110. [Gatschet, A. S.] "Mtn. Cherokee's names (topographical). Nimrod Tom Smith [inft ?], 1/2 breed, in Swain Co., North Car., P. O. Quallatown...April 18, '82." 3 pages, in Gatschet's handwriting. List of Cherokee place names and locations. Chippewa: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 178-80. [Gatschet, A. S.] "Odjibwe - Local and tribal names. Ign. Tomazin [inft.], Jan. 31, '83." 3 pages, in Gatschet's handwriting. Also (page 180) short extract from Dorman, Primitive Superstitions, page 148, on Ojibwa cannibalism, in Gatschet's handwriting.
Chitimacha: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 85 (top). [Gatschet, A. S.] "Shetimasha" vocabulary of 8 words, translated into French. 1/2 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Eskimo: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 45. Hoffman, Dr W. J. "Eskimo text obtained by Dr W. J. Hoffman, at San Francisco, Cal., from Naumoff, an Eskimo from Kadiak..." No date. 1 page in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Includes text and inter-linear translation, plus translation of same story from sign language. Note by Gatschet indicates that text is not in Kodiak dialect. Eskimo (Chugach) Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 53-66. Petroff, Ivan "Vocabulary of Tchugatch-Inuit. Taken by Ivan Petroff, in June, 1881, at various places, chiefly at Nu'tchik or Port Etches, abt. 60 1/2 N. Lat. From full bloods. 14 pages, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Also contains comparison with "Tchiglit" (Kopagmiut), in Gatschet's handwriting. "Partly entered in Mscr. vocab. Vol. 3." Eskimo (Kuskwogmiut): Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 76-84; 85-86; 95-96. [Petroff, Ivan ?] "Kuskokvog-miut (Inuit) [vocabulary], from Nicolai Kamilkoishin [?] native of the tribe educated at the Russian Mission, Yukon R., at Ikomiut." 13 pages, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Partly entered in Mscr. vocabulary, Volume IIId (note in Gatschet's handwriting.) Eskimo: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 249. W--, H. D. "A curious race. The Mutes of northern Alaska. Their manner of living. Peculiar family relations - superstitions and queer customs." From the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday November 14, 1886. 1 page, newsclipping. Hitchiti: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 203 (bottom), 204 (bottom), 205. Robertson, Mrs A. E. "Acts. VIV, ii in Hitchiti" (page 203); "Hitchiti words from Mrs Robertson" (204); "Hitchiti verbs, by Mrs Robertson" (205). 3 pages, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Kiowa: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 26. Gatschet, A. S. "Phonetics of the Kayowe Language, by Albert S. Gatschet. Read before the A.A.A.S., Cincinnati, 1881." 1 page, clipping from published article. Note in margin in Gatschet's handwriting reads: "Science of Sept. 17, 1881. By John Michels, New York."
Klamath: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 133-136; 143-147. [Gatschet, A. S.] Queries relating to the Klamath language by Gatschet, with answers written in by various Indians from the Klamath Agency, Oregon (cf. letter of J. G. Dennison, page 142 of this manuscript). 9 pages, partially in Gatschet's handwriting. Klamath: Ms 1449, pages 137-142. Denison, James D. "Story of the birth of Aisis," a Klamath legend, and accompanying letter from J. G. Dennison to A. S. Gatschet, August 29, 1880, Klamath Agency, Oregon. 6 pages, handwritten. Klamath: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 149-152. McCain, Frank Letter to A. S. Gatschet, January 30, 1880, from Frank McCain, Klamath Indian Agency, Lake Co., Oregon, containing 22 word Klamath vocabulary. 4 pages, handwritten. Koasati: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 102; 204. Robertson, Mrs A. E. [and A. S. Gatschet] "Koassadi. Supplement to words by Mrs A. E. Robertson, copied in Vocab. No. 2, obtained from [---illeg.]"; short vocabulary of verbs "from vocab. Vol 2, Koassati of Mrs Robertson"; and passage from "Actorum XIV, 11, in Koasata." 2 pages, in A S. Gatschet's handwriting. Page 102 contains a short list of Koasati words (probably from Mrs Robertson) with corresponding Choctaw equivalents (supplied by Gatschet [?] from the "Ch. grammar"; passage from Acts XIV, ii in Koasati with inter-linear translation, presumably by Gatschet; and list of Koasati verbs, no source mentioned. Page 204 contains the same bible passage in Koasati, with slightly different English translation, and list of same verbs, identified as being from "vocab. Vol 2...of Mrs Robertson." Pamunkey: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 46. Dalrymple, Rev Mr 17 word Pamunkey vocabulary collected by Rev Dalrymple in 1844 at King William County, Virginia. (Hist Mag., N. Y. II, page 182) and short note from J. G. Shea. 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. See National Anthropological Archives Manuscript 4069, referring to the original of the Dalrymple Manuscript in Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.
Seminole: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 182. [Buckingham-Smith, etc. ?] "Seminole Local Names. Buck. Smith, Beach, p. 125 (with Stidham)." 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. South America (Mojo): Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 187. Marban, M. P. P. Pedro "Moxo 6 Mojo. M.P.P. Pedro Marban, de la Compania de Jesus, Superior [ ]. Arte de la Lengua Moxa, con su vacabulario y cathecismo. Colegio de San Pablo (Lima), 1701. pages 664, etc." 1 page, in Gatschet's handwriting. Notes on Mojo language. South America (Miscellaneous): Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 128. Rohde, [ ] "Rohde on Sudamerika"...(1883-84)." 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Miscellaneous extracts relating to South American Indian tribes. South America (Miscellaneous): Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 97-101. Miscellaneous notes on South America copied by Gatschet from various published sources. 5 pages, in Gatschet's handwriting. South America Peru: (Quechua): Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 239. Bruhl, -- "Inquiries by Bruhl on Kechua. Oct. 1885." 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. 9 word Quechua vocabulary. Yokuts (Cholovone): Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 231-236. Pinart, Alph. L. "Yatchikumne [Cholovone, in Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30], near Stockton, Cal. Alp. L. Pinart, 1880." 6 pages, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Notes (written in French) on the various Cholovone dialects, and vocabulary with some words translated into English and some into Spanish. Yuchi and Natchez: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 106 Pike, Gen Albert "Elements of Inflection [of the verb to have]. Yuchi (Pike, p.--) & Naktche." 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Yuchi and Natchez: Ms Vocabulary 1449, page 107 Pike, Gen. Albert "Albert Pike's Vocabularies, 18.... Yuchi & Naktche." 1 page, in A. S. Gatschet's handwriting. Comparison of 33 words in Yuchi and Natchez. Yuchi: Ms Vocabulary 1449, pages 201-203. Robertson, Mrs A. E. "Yutchi [vocabulary] transliterated from mscr. of Mrs. Robertson, 1873 ?." 3 pages, in Gatschet's handwriting. Also contains passage from bible (Acts XIV, ii) apparently in Yuchi, with interlinear translation.