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.
Photographs depicting Blackfeet, Cree, Sarsi, Eskimo, and Chukchi people, as well as boats, interiors of igloos, and a camp. Many of the photographs are studio portraits. One series was made by Diamond Jenness on Little Diomede Island in 1926 and another by R. M. Anderson on the Canadian Arctic Expedition, 1913-1916. Photographers represented in the collection include David F. Barry. J. B. Tyrell, F. W. Waugh, and J. D. Soper.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot R81N
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Additional Barry photographs held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 90-1, Photo Lot 4605, Photo Lot 87-2P, Photo Lot 24, and in the BAE historical negatives.
Additional Jenness photographs held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 8, and correspondence from him is held in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 7053, the Henry Bascom Collins, Jr. papers, the Frederica de Laguna papers, the Ales Hrdlicka papers, the John Peabody Harrington papers, the Society for American Archaeology records, and the Bureau of American Ethnology records.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
This copy collection has been obtained for reference purposes only. Copies may be obtained from the National Museum of Canada.
Photo lot R81N, Copies of National Museum of Canada photograph collection relating to American Indians, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
This subseries of the Notes and writings on special linguistic studies series contains material reflecting John P. Harrington's long-time interest in theories of the Siberian origin of American Indians. Materials consist of notes and drafts for his paper "Siberian Origin of the American Indian.
His early notes include handwritten and typed versions of the outline "Antiquity of Man . . . " from 1915 (dated by handwriting as well as by type of pencil and paper); copies of short early vocabularies recorded by La Perouse (Tchoka) and Father Jette (Ten'a), probably prepared by Harrington around 1922 to 1923; a mimeographed statement by the Science News Service, dated 1923; newspaper clippings on Harrington's theories from 1924; and two pages of notes which Harrington recorded during a discussion with colleague Truman Michelson in November 1926. There is also an undated typed proposal titled "Investigation of the Origin of the Native American Race." This three page document does not appear to have been written by Harrington, but the source is not indicated.
Materials accumulated during the period 1937 to 1938 are the most numerous. They include notes from interviews; copies of correspondence; records regarding the computation of tribal areas; notes on maps and photographs; and reading notes, extracts, and bibliographic references to secondary sources. The transcripts of interviews, dated February 1937 through November 1938, include information from Riley Moore, Carl Bishop, John G. Carter, and B.A.E. colleagues Truman Michelson and Matthew W. Stirling. The lengthiest set of notes is from a discussion with Smithsonian archeologist Henry B. Collins, who described fieldwork he had conducted from May to November 1936. The brief file of correspondence contains letters from Diamond Jenness and H. E. Rollins and a note from John G. Carter. The file on illustrative materials includes maps and charts showing the computation of land areas occupied by the Chukchee, Aleut, Eskimo, and Athapascan tribes. Supplementing these are notes from meetings with staff members of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in March and April 1937. There are also notes on maps, motion picture films, and photographs, as well as illustrations by Clark M. Garber and Joelle Danner. The notes from secondary sources include the title page and table of contents for a manuscript by Ivan A. Lopatin titled "The Cult of the Dead Among the Natives of the Amur Valley." There are also a few pages on file for another paper by Lopatin, "Material on the Language of the Natives of the Amur Region." There is also a sizable set of notes relating to the translation of various terms--mostly tribal names--into Russian. These include cut-and-pasted portions of letters which Waldemar Jochelson sent Harrington.
The material compiled after 1937 is highly miscellaneous. Items from the 1940s include a sixteen-page untitled rough draft on the migration of Siberian man; a three-page typed carbon copy of the article "Stepping Stones Between Eurasia and America" which was used in a release by the Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, on August 4, 1940; a partial draft of an article on boats; a sectional map of the Bering Strait which was mailed to Harrington by C. M. Garber on January 18, 1947; and notes from interviews with Mr. [Tappan?] Adney on March 28, 1941, with William Heslop and King Mooers later in that year, and with Henry B. Collins on December 8, 1947. There is also an Eskimo vocabulary which Harrington copied from William Thalbitzer and three pages of miscellaneous notes dating from the late 1950s.
A separate file of notes on Chukchee spans the entire period of Harrington's work on Siberia. There are a number of pages on Chukchee, Yukagir, and Eskimo mythology which he extracted from his notes for lectures at the University of Washington in 1910; brief notes from discussions with Truman Michelson, Waldemar Jochelson, and Franz Boas around 1926 to 1928; and copies made on February 23, 1937, of "Chukchee polysynthesis words" which had been compiled in an unspecified article by colleague Robert W. Young. The source of data for the latter was Waldemar Bogoras's paper "Chukchee" in the Handbook of American Indian Languages edited by Franz Boas. Later material includes a copy of a letter from Ivan Lopatin (November 23, 1947) with an enclosure titled "Discovery of the Chukchee and Derivation of the Name"; a copy by Harrington of the enclosure; and the rough beginning of a paper by Harrington titled "Short Sketch of the Grammar of the Chukchee Language," also evidently written in 1947.
John Peabody Harrington papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
The preferred citation for the Harrington Papers will reference the actual location within the collection, i.e. Box 172, Alaska/Northwest Coast, Papers of John Peabody Harrington, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
However, as the NAA understands the need to cite phrases or vocabulary on specific pages, a citation referencing the microfilmed papers is acceptable. Please note that the page numbering of the PDF version of the Harrington microfilm does not directly correlate to the analog microfilm frame numbers. If it is necessary to cite the microfilmed papers, please refer to the specific page number of the PDF version, as in: Papers of John Peabody Harrington, Microfilm: MF 7, R34 page 42.
The American aborigines, their origin and antiquity; a collection of papers by ten authors, assembled and edited by Diamond Jenness; published for presentation at the fifth Pacific Science Congress, Canada, 1933
Arctic odyssey : the diary of Diamond Jenness, ethnologist with the Canadian Arctic Expedition in Northern Alaska and Canada, 1913-1916 / edited and annotated by Stuart E. Jenness ; with a foreward by William E. Taylor