Irving Goldman (1911-2002) was an anthropologist who conducted research among the Modoc Indians in California, the Ulkatcho Carrier of British Columbia, and the Cubeo Indians in the Vaupes region of the Northwest Amazon. The focus of the collection is Goldman's field research on the Cubeo. The collection also includes some materials relating to his work on the Modoc, the Ulkatcho Carrier, Polynesians, and Tzotzil of Chamula Indians of Chiapas, Mexico. Other materials in the collection include his professional and personal correspondence and his writings. Another important part of this collection is from his personal materials. Goldman was a Communist from 1936-1942, and in 1953 was brought before the Jenner Committee. The file Goldman kept of this investigation includes a transcript of his appearance in front of the Committee, as well as many newspaper clippings.
Scope and Contents:
The focus of the collection is Irving Goldman's field research on the Cubeo Indians of Vaupes, Colombia. In addition to documentation from multiple trips to Cubeo, the collection also includes some materials relating to his work on the Modoc, the Ulkatcho Carrier, Polynesians, and Tzotzil of Chamula Indians of Chiapas, Mexico. The Cubeo materials include field notes, research notes, questionnaires and photographs that Goldman used in his publications, which include The Cubeo: Indians of the Northwest Amazon and Hehenewa of the Cuduiari: An Introduction to Cubean Religious Thought, which was published posthumously as Cubeo Hehenewa Religious Thought: Metaphysics of a Northwestern Amazonian People. Additional materials from his Cubeo research are 26 field recordings of music, interviews, and dances. Also in the collection is a sound recording relating to the Kwakiutl Indians. The work on Polynesia for his publication "Ancient Polynesian Society" consist of his reading notes. His Ulkatcho Carrier notes contain language material from his field research among the Ulkatcho, Nazko, and Quesnel, three Carrier bands in the Blackwater dialect group. His notes from his research in Chiapas contain ethnographic and linguistic notes on what appears to be Tzotzil. The Modoc materials also contain ethnographic and linguistic notes.
The correspondence in the collection is a mix of professional and personal. This includes correspondence from former students and recommendations he wrote for them. In the writing series are notes and edits of chapters and manuscripts for his books, as well as articles that Goldman wrote and a couple of speeches he gave. The collection includes many photographs, most of which do not have descriptions of locations. The identified photographs include images from Vaupes and Chiapas, Mexico. There is one folder that includes some photographs of the Modoc and another that contains pictures from the British Columbia Ulkatcho.
Another important part of this collection is a file on the Jenner Committee's investigation of Goldman and a transcript of his testimony in front of the committee, as well as many newspaper clippings.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
The collection is arranged in 7 series: (1) Professional Correspondence, 1951-1999; (2) Field Research, 1935-40, 1955-90, undated [Bulk 1970-1985, undated]; (3) Writings, 1941-45, 1958-94 [Bulk 1968-85]; (4) Conferences, 1975-1976; (5) Personal Material, 1928-1977 [Bulk 1943-1958]; (6) Photographs, Undated, 1934, 1948-40, 1948, 1955, 1962-79 [Bulk 1978-1979]; (7) Microfilm, undated; (8) Sound recordings, 1968-70, 1986, undated.
Irving Goldman was born September 2, 1911 in Brooklyn, New York to Louis and Golda Goldman, immigrants from Russia. Goldman graduated from Brooklyn College in 1933, and continued from there to Columbia University for graduate work, where he studied under Franz Boas. In 1936, he joined the American Communist Party, but left the party in 1942.
As a graduate student, Goldman conducted research among the Modoc Indians in California (1934) and the Cubeo in the Vaupes region of the Northwest Amazon (1939). For his graduate work at Columbia, he focused on the Ulkatcho Carrier of British Columbia, which he researched from 1935-36. His thesis, "The Alkatcho Carrier of British Columbia" was published in Acculturation in Seven American Indian Tribes (1940). Goldman received his Ph.D. in 1941.
Goldman began World War II as a Research Analyst for the Coordinator of InterAmerican Affairs (1942-43). He was reassigned to the Office of Strategic Services, where he was a 2nd Lieutenant (1943-1945). In 1945 he was transferred to the U.S. Department of State, where he was the Chief of Branch for the Office of Research and Analysis, until he was released in 1947 as a security risk due to his earlier involvement with communism.
Goldman taught at Sarah Lawrence from 1947 until 1981, where he also served on many faculty committees, as well as their Board of Trustees. During this time, Goldman also continued his anthropological research. He spent 1955 in Chiapas, Mexico, studying Tzotzil of Chamula Indians. He also did library research on Polynesia, which led to his book Ancient Polynesian Society (1970), a key work in anthropological thought. During his time at Sarah Lawrence College, Goldman also published two other significant books: The Cubeo: Indians of the Northwest Amazon (1963) and The Mouth of Heaven: An Introduction to Kwakiutl Religious Thought (1975). In 1968, he returned to the Cubeo, continuing his research there into the early 1980s. His wife, Hannah, who died in 1986, traveled occasionally with him. From 1980 to 1987, Goldman taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
During the McCarthy era, in 1953, Goldman was forced to testify before the Jenner Senate Committee, which investigated connections between academics and communism. While Goldman admitted to having been a part of the party, he took his First Amendment right to avoid naming others who he knew had been members. This was a risky and rare tactic; however it had a positive outcome for him, as Sarah Lawrence College, where Goldman was teaching at the time, decided not to fire him since he had spoken his conscious and no more.
Goldman died April 7, 2002. Goldman's peers considered him to have "insightful analyses that were often ahead of his time" (Rubel 2003) and to have had "the courage to tackle big problems in the realm of comparative research." (Rubel 2003) His final manuscript was published posthumously as Cubeo Henewa Religious Thought: Metaphysics of a Northwestern Amazonian People (2004).
Rubel, Paul and Abraham Rosman. 2003. Irving Goldman (1911-2002). American Anthropologist 105:4.
Shenn, Jody. 2002. Remembering Irving Goldman. News and Events at Sarah Lawrence.
Schildkrout, Enid, and Irving Goldman. 1989. A Conversation with Irving Goldman. American Ethnologist 16:3.
1911 -- Born April 18 in New York, New York.
1933 -- Earns B.S. from Brooklyn College.
1934 -- Fieldwork on Modoc Indians, California.
1935-1936 -- Fieldwork on Ulkatcho Carrier Indians, British Columbia.
1939-1940 -- First fieldwork on Cubeo Indians, Vaupes, Colombia.
1941 -- Earns Ph.D. from Columbia University.
1942 -- Research Analyst on Latin America for the Coordinator of InterAmerican Affairs.
1943-1945 -- 2nd Lieutenant for the Office of Strategic Services.
1945-1947 -- Chief of Branch for the Office of Research and Analysis for the United States State Department.
1947 -- Left State Department; began to teach at Sarah Lawrence College.
1953 -- Investigated by the Jenner Committee for his communist connections.
1955 -- Fieldwork on Tzotzil of Chamula Indians, Chiapas, Mexico.
1968-1980 -- Goldman continuously returned to Vaupes, Colombia to study the Cubeo.
1980 -- Began to teach at the New School for Social Research.
1981 -- Retired from Sarah Lawrence College.
1987 -- Retired from the New School for Social Research.
2002 -- Died April 7, 2002 in Brooklyn, New York.
Materials at the NAA relating to Irving Goldman's involvement with the Handbook of South American Indians can be found in Manuscript 4846 and the Handbook of South American Indians records, 1934-47.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Sonya Shenn of the Department of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002. An unidentified 8mm film in the collection was transferred to the Human Studies Film Archives in 2007 (HSFA 2008.04)
Access to the Irving Goldman papers requires an appointment.