The bulk of this collection documents the professional life of Ruth Leah Bunzel from the 1940s to 1970s. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, notes, research files, teaching materials, card files, artwork, and sound recordings.
Scope and Contents:
The bulk of this collection documents the professional life of Ruth Leah Bunzel from the 1940s to 1970s. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, notes, research files, teaching materials, card files, artwork, and sound recordings. A large portion of the collection is comprised of work from the Chinese project that Bunzel led as part of Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures [RCC]. The collection also contains her paper for the Bureau of Applied Social Research, "Interviewing in National Character Research" (in which she analyzes the methods used in RCC), as well as materials from two spin-offs of RCC--Studies in Soviet Culture and Studies in Contemporary Cultures. Bunzel's relationship with Columbia University is also represented in the collection through her notes as lecturer and adjunct professor at Columbia University, correspondence with her students, and her students' papers. Among her students was Ethel Cutler Freeman, whose letters and assignments can be found in the collection. There are also memos and other materials documenting the activities of the anthropology department and university, as well as their responses to the 1968 student uprising at Columbia. In addition, the collection contains notes from courses Bunzel took with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict as a graduate student at Columbia.
Other items of significance are the drawings of Hopi and Zuni kachinas that Bunzel collected while in the field in the Southwest and a map of a Tewa village sketched in pencil. The collection does not contain any of her field notes from her work in the Southwest nor from her work in Guatemala or Mexico.
Although Bunzel's writings are not well represented in the collection, there are items of interest such as typescript copies of "Tentative Questionnaire for Handbook of Psychological Leads for Ethnological Field Workers: Economics," her handwritten reminiscence of Boas, and drafts of papers she presented at conferences. Also of interest are notes on her memories of the Abram Kardiner psychocultural seminars (in which she was an early participant), notes from various seminars, and two 1963 sound recordings from an Anthropology and World Affairs regional conference.
Among her notable correspondents in the collection are David F. Aberle, Franziska Boas, Steve Boggs, Paul Bohannan, Joseph Casagrande, Vincent Crapanzano, Harold Driver, Abe Edel, Raymond Fogelson,Morton H. Fried, Ethel Cutler Freeman, Alexander Lesser, Oscar Lewis, George Marcus, Catharine McClellan, Margaret Mead, Lita Fejos Osmundson, George Spindler, Leslie White, Helene Boas Yampolsky, and Mark Zborowski.
Arranged into 9 series: (1) Correspondence, 1957-1977; (2) Research in Contemporary Cultures, 1947-1954; (3) Columbia University, 1925-1941 & 1956-1969; (4) Writings and Projects, 1929-1968 [Bulk 1960-1968]; (5) Associations, Conferences, & Seminars, 1940-1973; (6) Writings by Others, 1921-1979; (7) Card Files; (8) Artwork; (9) Sound Recordings, 1963
Ruth Leah Bunzel was born on April 18, 1898 in New York City. Known as "Bunny" by her friends, she attended Barnard College where she received her B.A. in European History in 1918. With no thought of continuing her education, she acquired a job in 1922 as secretary and editorial assistant to Franz Boas at Columbia University. Esther Goldfrank, who had resigned as Boas's secretary to study anthropology at Columbia, was a friend of one of Bunzel's sisters.
By 1924 Bunzel, herself, was considering a career in anthropology and wanted to observe an anthropologist at work in the field. Since Boas traveled to Europe every summer, Bunzel decided to spend her vacation that year in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico as a secretary to Ruth Benedict, who would be collecting Zuni mythology. When she informed Boas of her plan, Boas encouraged her to work on her own research rather than spending her time on secretarial work. He suggested that she study art, specifically potters and their pottery. Elsie Clews Parsons objected to Bunzel (who lacked formal training) conducting her own research in Zuni and threatened to withdraw her financial support of Benedict's mythology project. With Boas's firm backing, Parsons eventually relented and Bunzel was allowed to go to Zuni.
That summer, Bunzel arrived in Zuni with papier maché pots she had made for her informants to paint designs on. She observed the potters at work and also made pottery alongside them. After five weeks she felt she had gathered enough information on the Zuni and moved on to study Hopi, San Ildefonso, and Acoma potters. The results of her research would later produce her dissertation, The Pueblo Potter, A Study of Creative Imagination in Primitive Art, published in 1929.
When she returned to New York, she began work on a draft of The Pueblo Potter and in 1925 resigned as Boas's secretary to become his student at Columbia University. Although she completed her doctoral work and dissertation in 1927, she was not awarded her PhD until 1929 when the The Pueblo Potter was published. (At the time, the university did not confer doctorates until a student's dissertation had been published.) The Pueblo Potter, a landmark work, was the first anthropological study of art and the individual in culture.
From 1924 to 1929 Bunzel spent several summers and winters in Zuni. Parsons, who had initially opposed her first trip, sponsored Bunzel's second trip, this time to study ceremonialism, and other trips and projects. Bunzel's papers on Zuni ceremonialism as well as creation myths, kachinas, and poetry were published in the 47th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1932). Flora Zuni and her family, with whom Bunzel lived when she was in the field, formally adopted her and initiated her into their clan, the Beaver clan. They gave her the Zuni name Maiatitsa, which means "blue bird," a reference to the blue smock that Bunzel often wore while making pottery. Bunzel's second Zuni name, Tsatitsa, was given to her by her primary informant and former governor of the pueblo, Nick Tumaka. After a decade long absence, Bunzel returned to Zuni for her last time in 1939 to study child development.
Having studied the Southwest, Bunzel felt it was natural to also study Mexico. During her interview for a Guggenheim Fellowship, however, the chairman of the foundation persuaded her to study Guatemala, instead, as no American anthropologist had done much work in the area. As a result, from 1930 to 1932 she studied the Highland Mayan village of Santo Tomas Chichicastenango. Her work there resulted in Chichicastenango, A Guatemalan Village, published in 1952. From 1936 to 1937 she also did fieldwork in the village of Chamula in Chiapas, Mexico. Her 1940 article "The Role of Alcoholism in Two Central American Communities" was a comparative study of Chichicastenango and Chamula.
During World War II, Bunzel worked in England for the U.S. Government Office of War Information from 1942 to 1945. Having spent some time in Spain during the late 1930s improving her Spanish, she translated broadcasts for Spain as well as incoming broadcasts.
When she returned to New York after the war, she became involved in the Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures project [RCC]. Directed by Ruth Benedict and funded by the Office of Naval Research, RCC was composed of research groups, each studying a different culture. From 1947 to 1951, Bunzel led the group studying China, which involved interviewing Chinese immigrants in New York City. The project produced several papers, including her unpublished manuscripts, Explorations in Chinese Culture and An Anthropological Approach to Chinese Communism, which she co-authored with John Hast Weakland.
Early in her career, Bunzel was a lecturer at Barnard College (1929-1930) and at Columbia University (1933-1935, 1937-1940). It was not until 1953 that she was hired as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia. Although the university's official appointment card lists Bunzel as having retired in 1966, she continued to teach at Columbia University after her retirement.
On January 14, 1990, Bunzel passed away at the age of 91.
Babcock, Barbara A. and Nancy Parezo. "Ruth Bunzel." Daughters of the Desert. University of New Mexico. 1988.
Fawcett, David M. and Teri McLuhan. "Ruth Leah Bunzel." Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies. Ed. Ute Gacs, et al. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989.
1898 -- Born April 18 in New York, New York
1918 -- Earns B.A. from Barnard College in European History
1922-1924 -- Secretary and editorial assistant to Franz Boas
1924 -- First trip to Zuni, New Mexico
1925 -- Enrolls in Columbia University's graduate program in anthropology
1925-1929 -- Spends summers and winters conducting fieldwork among the Zuni
1927-1928 -- Studies at University of Chicago
1928-1943 -- Executive Committee Board of AAA
1929 -- Studies at the National University of Mexico Publication of dissertation, The Pueblo Potter, A Study of Creative Imagination in Primitive Art Receives Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University
1929-1930 -- Lecturer at Barnard College
1930-1932 -- Fieldwork in Chichicastenango, Guatemala
1933-1935 -- Lecturer, General Studies and Summer Session, Columbia University
1936-1937 -- Lecturer, General Studies and Summer Session, Columbia University
1939 -- Fieldwork in Zuni studying child development
1942-1945 -- Social Scientist U.S. Government Office of War Information, Propoganda Analysis
1947-1951 -- Director of Chinese Project of Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures
1951-1952 -- Works on Bureau of Applied Social Research project on techniques of interviewing
1953 -- Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
1955 -- Research Associate, Institute of Intercultural Studies
1962 -- Teaching-consultant, Columbia University School of Nursing
1969-1987 -- Senior Research Associate, Columbia University
1974-1976 -- Chair, Section H, AAAS
1990 -- Dies January 14 in New York City at the age of 91
1929 -- The Pueblo Potter, A Study of Creative Imagination in Primitive Art. New York: Columbia University Press.
1932 -- "Zuni Ritual Poetry." Ibid. "Introduction to Zuni Ceremonialism." 47th Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution. Washington: Government Printing Office. "Zuni Creation Myths." Ibid. "Zuni Katchinas." Ibid.
1933 -- Zuni Texts. Publications of the American Ethnological Society, Vol. 15. New York: G.E. Stechert and Company.
1938 -- "Zuni Grammar." Handbook of American Indian Languages, Vol. 3. New York: Columbia University Press. "The Economic Organization of Primitive People." Ibid. "Primitive Art." General Anthropology. Boston: D.C. Heath .
1940 -- "The Role of Alcoholism in Two Central American Communities." Psychiatry, Vol 33, pp. 361-387.
1950 -- Explorations in Chinese Culture. Research in Contemporary Cultures, Columbia University. (unpublished report)
1952 -- Chichicastenango, A Guatemalan Village. Publications of the American Ethnological Society, Vol 22. Locust Valley, New York: J. J. Auigustin. with John Weakland. An Anthropological Approach to Chinese Communism. Research in Contemporary Cultures, Columbia University. (unpublished report)
1960 -- edited with Margaret Mead. The Golden Age of American Anthropology. New York: George Braziller.
1966 -- "May Mandelbaum Edel 1909-1964." American Anthropologist, Vol 68, No. 4, pp. 986-989.
1976 -- "Chamula and Chichicastenango: A Reexamination." Cross-Cultural Approaches to the Study of Alcohol. The Hague: Mouton.
Other materials relating to Ruth Bunzel at the National Anthropological Archives include correspondence with the Bureau of American Ethnology in MS 4846 and the Records of the Bureau of American Ethnology; the Ruth Leah Bunzel photographs of Quiche peoples of Guatemala (Photo Lot 2007-10); and a photograph of Bunzel in Photographic Lot 92-35. The Human Studies Film Archive has a video oral history of Bunzel (HSFA 89.10.8) which was created as part of the "History of Anthropology Series" produced by the University of Florida's Department of Anthropology.
The bulk of these papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Columbia University's Department of Anthropology.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Materials with student grades were separated and have been restricted. Most of the restricted materials are not open for access until 2030.
Processed with the support of a Wenner-Gren Foundation Historical Archives Program grant.
This collection contains John and Ann Fischer's correspondence, field notes, manuscripts, microfilm, sound recordings, and photographs relating to their work in Micronesia, Japan, and New England. Most of the materials in this collection were produced or collected by John. Although some materials have been identified as Ann's work, not all folders containing her notes have been so identified. Since John and Ann often collaborated, some of their notes are also intermixed. Materials relating to Truk and Ponape make up the bulk of the series. They not only include John and Ann's field notes but also administrative materials relating to John's position as District Anthropologist and District Island Affairs Officer. Because they returned at various times to visit and update data, there are documents on Ponape from 1949 as well as from the 1970s and in between. The Fischers' work in Japan is also well-represented in the collection along with their research for John and Beatrice Whiting's Six Cultures Project. The collection also contains a number of psychological tests administered by John and Ann during their research in Ponape and Japan. The sound recordings are mostly related to Ponape, with additional recordings from Japan. Several of the photographs are from Micronesia, some of which were taken by Harry Clifford Fassett. There are also some photos from Japan as well as personal photographs. Additional items in the collection include John's correspondence and papers he wrote as a student.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains John and Ann Fischer's correspondence, field notes, manuscripts, microfilm, sound recordings, and photographs relating to their work in Micronesia, Japan, and New England. Most of the materials in this collection were produced or collected by John. Although some materials have been identified as Ann's work, not all folders containing her notes have been so identified. Since John and Ann often collaborated, some of their notes are also intermixed.
Materials relating to Truk and Ponape make up the bulk of the series. They not only include John and Ann's field notes but also administrative materials relating to John's position as District Anthropologist and District Island Affairs Officer. Because they returned at various times to visit and update data, there are documents on Ponape from 1949 as well as from the 1970s and in between. The Fischers' work in Japan is also well-represented in the collection along with their research for John and Beatrice Whiting's Six Cultures Project.
The sound recordings are also mostly related to Ponape, with additional recordings from Japan. Several of the photographs are from Micronesia, some of which were taken by Harry Clifford Fassett. There are also some photos from Japan as well as personal photographs. Additional items in the collection include John's correspondence and papers he wrote as a student. Psychological tests administered by John and Ann during their research in Ponape and Japan are also in the collection.
This collection is arranged in 9 series: (1) Records and correspondence, 1948-1985; (2) Truk, 1949-1984 [Bulk 1949-1953]; (3) Ponape, 1839-1984 [Bulk 1947-1984]; (4) New England, 1954-1968 [Bulk 1955-1968]; (5) Japan, 1940-1985 [Bulk 1961-1964]; (6) Academic Work, 1946-1974; (7) Photographs, 1899-1974 [Bulk 1942-1974]; (8) Microfilm, undated; (9) Sound Recordings, 1947-1976 [Bulk 1959-1976]
Ann Kindrick Fischer was born on May 22, 1919 in Kansas City. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Sociology in 1941. During World War II she lived in Washington, D.C. working as registrar at the School of Advanced International Studies. At the time she was briefly married to her first husband, James Meredith.
In 1946 Ann entered Radcliffe College's graduate program in the Department of Anthropology. As a student at Radcliffe, she met John Fischer, who was a student at Harvard. In 1949 she traveled to the Caroline Islands to study Trukese mother and child training and to marry John, who had obtained a position as District Anthropologist of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. During their time in Micronesia, the two lived a year in Truk and three years in Ponape. While in Ponape, Ann taught English in a middle school as part of her anthropological research. She completed her dissertation, "The Role of the Trukese Mother and Its Effect on Child Training," and was awarded her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1957.
Her interest in childrearing continued when she returned to Massachusetts from Micronesia. From 1954 to 1957, she worked as a research assistant on the Ford Foundation Six Cultures Project under the direction of John and Beatrice Whiting. Ann and her husband collaborated in a study of children in a New England town, which resulted in their 1963 article "The New Englanders of Orchard Town, USA." In 1961 and 1962, Ann and John worked together again to study childrearing in Japan, focusing on psychology and family life. When they returned from Japan, they did a follow-up study of a Japanese community in San Mateo, California.
In 1959, Ann became the first anthropologist to hold a training fellowship in biostatistics and epidemiology at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She joined their faculty and also taught at the Tulane School of Social Work (1960-1966) and the Anthropology Department of Newcomb College (1968-1971). In addition, Ann served as consultant to the Peace Corps on Micronesia.
Although she continued to write extensively on families and children throughout her career, her interests also included medicine, the role of women, and minority rights. She particularly became interested in the Houma Indians, publishing her article "History and Current Status of the Houma Indians" in 1965. An active supporter of the Houma Indians, she played an integral role in eliminating segregation in the school system in their area.
On April 22, 1971 Ann died of cancer at the age of 51.
Edmonson, Munro S. "Ann Kindrick Fischer." -- Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies -- . Ed. Ute Gacs, -- et al. -- Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989.
Halpern, Katherine Spencer. "Ann Fischer 1919-1971." -- American Anthropologist -- , New Series, Vol. 75, No. 1. (Feb., 1973), pp. 292-294.
Marshall, M. and M. Ward. "John (Jack) Fischer (1923-1985)." -- American Anthropologist -- , New Series, Vol.89, No.1 (Mar., 1987) 134-136.
John Lyle Fischer was born in Kewanee, Illinois on July 9, 1923. His undergraduate work began at Harvard in 1940 but was interrupted by his military service during World War II. During the war he studied Japanese and served as both an interpreter and translator in the Marines. Following the war he returned to Harvard to complete his B.A. in 1946. His undergraduate honors thesis was entitled "Japanese Linguistic Morphology in Relation to Basic Cultural Traits."
John continued on at Harvard for his graduate studies in the Department of Social Relations, earning his Masters degree in Anthropology in 1949. That same year he married Ann Kindrick Meredith on his birthday. The two were stationed in Micronesia where John served as District Anthropologist (1949-1951) for the Naval Administration and later as the District Island Affairs Officer (1951-1953) under the Interior Department Administration.
When he and his family moved back to Massachusetts, he returned to his academic studies at Harvard. Drawing upon his fieldwork in Micronesia, he completed his dissertation, "Language and Folktale in Truk and Ponape: A Study in Cultural Integration," in 1954 and received his PhD from Harvard the following year. Work on the dissertation led to a lifelong interest in folklore and lingistics as well as Truk and Ponape. He revisited Ponape several times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
From 1954 to 1955 John collaborated with his wife to study comparative child-rearing in New England. In the early 1960s, they once again conducted fieldwork together, this time in Japan, studying the psychological dynamics of family life. They later did a follow-up study of a Japanese community in San Mateo, California. Just before his death, John was planning another research trip to Japan.
In 1958, John obtained a faculty position at Tulane University teaching social anthropology. He served as chair of the Department of Anthropology from 1969 to 1971 and taught at the university until his death. By 1979 Fischer had learned Russian and taught for a year at the University of Leningrad. Fischer was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1975 to 1976. In addition, he was active in various professional societies and consulted with several national organizations. He was co-author of 8 books as well as author of many articles and book chapters.
Following Ann's death from cancer, Fischer married Simonne Cholin Sanzenbach, who was also a professor at Tulane, in 1973. They shared many interests and published an article together in Japanese, "The Nature of Speech According to French Proverbs," in 1983.
At the age of 61, John passed away on May 16, 1985.
More materials relating to John and Ann Fischer can be found in other collections at the National Anthropological Archives. MS 7516 "Documents relating to scientific investigations in Micronesia" contains the Fischers' 1954 East Caroline Handbook. More of John's correspondence can be found in the Southern Anthropological Society Records and in Saul Herbert Riesenberg's Correspondence series under the Records of the Department of Anthropology. The American Indian Chicago Conference Records contains Ann's correspondence.
Harvard University's Tozzer Library and the Bishop Museum also hold some of John's original Ponapean field notes.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Richard A. Marksbury in 2013.
Access to psychological tests administered by John and Ann Fischer during their research in Ponape and Japan is restricted. Access to the John L. Fischer and Ann K. Fischer Papers requires an appointment.