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.
The photographs primarily document ceremonies, people, and lands of Native Americans in the Plains and Southwest, taken during Mekeel's field research from 1929 to 1936. A large portion of the collection depicts Mekeel's research during the early 1930s among the Oglala of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Another large portion of the collection includes personal photos depicting Mekeel's homes and children.
H. Scudder Mekeel (1902-1947) was an anthropologist who studied social and psychological aspects of Native American cultures. Educated at Harvard University (BA, 1928), the University of Chicago (MA, 1929), and Yale University (PhD, 1932), he was a member of the 1929 Laboratory of Anthropology (Santa Fe) ethnological field school led by Alfred L. Kroeber. In 1929-1932, he carried out three field expeditions to the Sioux communities of South Dakota, working mainly on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs as Director of Applied Anthropology under Commissioner John Collier in 1935. Two years later, he was appointed Director of the Laboratory of Anthropology at Santa Fe and continued there until 1940, when he accepted a teaching position at the University of Wisconsin.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 94-21
Location of Other Archival Materials:
The National Anthropological Archives holds copies of Mekeel's Field Notes from the summers of 1930 and 1931 in the White Clay District of the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota (MS 7088). Originals of these field notes and Mekeel's population notes on the White Clay District are held by the American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology Archives (.M454).
The Human Studies Film Archives holds Mekeel's film footage of a Lakota Sioux Sundance from 1930 (HSFA 92.8.1).
Correspondence from Mekeel held in the National Anthropological Archives in the William Duncan Strong papers, Raoul Weston LaBarre Papers, and Bureau of American Ethnology Administrative File.
Original nitrate negatives are in cold storage and require special arrangements for viewing.
Photo Lot 94-21, the H. Scudder Mekeel photographs, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Photographs include informal and formal portraits and candid images of anthropologists, including William Duncan Strong, Waldo Wedel, Carlyle Smith, Philip Smith, A.T. Hill, Rose Solecki, Robert Stigler, Ruth Bunzel, George Metcalf, and others. Some of the photographs were taken by archaeologist Ralph S. Solecki (1917-2019), but others are not. Handwritten labels on the back of most photographs indicate the photographer and the subjects.
Some photographs are grouped together in a file, following original order. The collection is then arranged chronologically by date of the photograph or first photograph within a file.
Biographical / Historical:
Stefan Ralph Solecki (1917-2019) was born on October 15th, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Newtown High School in 1936, he attended the City College of New York from 1936-1941 and received a B.S. in Geology in 1942. Solecki then served in the US Army and fought in World War II. He was discharged in 1945. In 1946, Solecki enrolled at Columbia University to study Anthropology, and he received a M.A. degree in 1950. During this time, Solecki worked for the River Basin Surveys at the Smithsonian Institution. He also accompanied a geological survey to northern Alaska in 1949 (and later in 1961). In 1951, he became an associate curator of archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution. In that same year, he traveled to Iraq to survey prehistoric sites and began Season I of excavation at Shanidar Cave. Solecki then received a Fulbright fellowship to return to Iraq in 1953-1954 to continue excavations at Shanidar Cave (Season II) and conduct research at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. In 1955, he married Rose M. Lilien (b. 1925). From 1956-1957, both Ralph and Rose Solecki travelled to Iraq, where Ralph conducted a third season of excavation at Shanidar Cave and Rose excavated the nearby Zawi Chemi Shanidar village site. In 1958, he received his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and accepted a faculty position within the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. In 1960, the Soleckis returned for a fourth and final field season of excavation at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar, where they were accompanied by Smithsonian Institution curator of Physical Anthropology, T. Dale Stewart. Following the final two seasons of excavation at Shanidar Cave, Solecki led a number of Columbia University expeditions to various locations around the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. He also spent three seasons (1963-1964, 1981, 1987) surveying and excavating the site of Yabroud in Syria and three field seasons excavating the sites of Nahr Ibrahim (1969, 1970, 1973) and El Masloukh (1969) in Lebanon. Ralph and Rose Solecki both held positions at Columbia University until Ralph's retirement in 1988. In 1990, Ralph and Rose served as adjunct professors at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. In 2000, they left Texas A&M University and moved to South Orange, New Jersey. Ralph Solecki died in Livingston, New Jersey on March 20, 2019.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 92-35
The National Anthropological Archives holds the Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki papers, Ruth Leah Bunzel papers, William Duncan Strong papers, the Waldo Wedel and Mildred Mott Wedel papers, the Carleton Stevens Coon papers, and several collections created by or featuring Frank H. H. Roberts, Alfred Kroeber, James A. Ford, and A.T. Hill.
The National Museum of the American Indian holds the Marshall Saville photograph collection.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo Lot 92-35, Ralph S. Solecki photographs of Anthropologists, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
The records of the American Ethnological Society (AES) document its activities from its founding in 1842 through the mid-1960s. The American Ethnological Society is the oldest anthropological association in America. It has been interested in publishing and promoting study of different cultures in the Americas from its founding in 1842 to the present. Materials include correspondence, reports, and financial records relating to the administrative functions of the organization.
Scope and Contents:
The records of the American Ethnological Society (AES) document its activities from its founding in 1842 through the mid-1960s.
The early years of the AES (1840s to 1880) are documented through correspondence, newspaper clippings, and proceedings. The bulk of the collection relates to the administrative functions of the AES from its reorganization in 1906 through 1965 including changes to the constitution and the elections of officers. The offices of Secretary-Treasurer and Editor are well documented through correspondence and reports. There is also a significant amount of correspondence to and from members, financial records, and information on the AES‟ interactions with other organizations such as the American Anthropological Association and the New York Academy of Sciences.
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 material is arranged in the following series: (1) Early records, 1834-1886; (2) AES Meetings, 1910-1964; (3) Reports of the officers, 1925-1964; (4) Election records: Officer lists, constitutions, and amendments, 1917-1959; (5) Office correspondence, 1924-1956; (6) Membership records, 1862-1960; (6) Publication records, 1934-1962; (7) Financial records, 1902-1962; (8) Miscellany, 1860-1957.
The American Ethnological Society is the oldest anthropological association in America. It has been interested in publishing and promoting study of different cultures in the Americas from its founding in 1842 to the present.
The American Ethnological Society was founded in 1842 by Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and founder of New York University. Early members were doctors, lawyers, businessmen and included Henry Schoolcraft, William Prescott and Theodore Dwight. Meetings were usually held at the home of the President and accounts of missionaries and explorers, who were "corresponding" members, were read. Local papers frequently covered these meetings. The Society published three periodicals in its early years including Transactions which first appeared in 1845. Interest in the Society declined after the Civil War. In 1906 a group of professional anthropologists led by Franz Boas joined the Society and reorganized it, adding the Office of Editor. Since then, the Society has been very active and has had a strong publications program, beginning with a linguistic series begun by Franz Boas. The Society holds annual meetings, usually in the spring at which prominent anthropologists present their findings. In addition to Franz Boas, the Society has included among its members such famous anthropologists as Ruth Benedict, E. Adamson Hoebel, Margaret Mead and Ward Goodenough.
The treasurer's records dating from 1916 to 1924 were transferred to the archives by the American Museum of Natural History. All other records came to the archives from the American Ethnological Society.
The American Ethnological Society records are open for research.
Access to the American Ethnological Society records requires an appointment. Advance notice must be given to view materials stored off-site.