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Ruth Landes papers

Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978  Search this
Boas, Franz, 1858-1942  Search this
Wallis, Ruth Sawtell, 1895-1978  Search this
Wagley, Charles, 1913-1991  Search this
Lopez, Salvador  Search this
Little, Kenneth  Search this
Wilson, Maggie  Search this
Whitecloud, Thomas St. Germain  Search this
Henry, Jules, 1904-1969  Search this
Hellman, Ellen  Search this
Haugen, Einar  Search this
Gough, Kathleen  Search this
Lewis, Oscar  Search this
Kaberry, Phyllis Mary, 1910-  Search this
Imes, Elmer Samuel, 1883-1941  Search this
Strong, William Duncan, 1899-1962  Search this
Steyn, Anna F.  Search this
Spier, Leslie, 1893-1961  Search this
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962  Search this
Solecki, Ralph S.  Search this
Sparta, Francisco  Search this
Rubin, Joan  Search this
Rubin, Vera  Search this
Rodnick, David  Search this
Rogers, Edward S.  Search this
Ritzenthaler, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1911-1980  Search this
Roberts, Robert W.  Search this
Ramo, Arthur  Search this
Richards, Audrey  Search this
Preston, Richard J.  Search this
Verger, Pierre  Search this
Vennum, Thomas  Search this
Topash, Mary  Search this
Topash, Joe  Search this
Teskey, Lynn  Search this
Taylor, Beryl  Search this
Tanner, Helen Hornbeck  Search this
Densmore, Frances, 1867-1957  Search this
Quain, Buell H. (Buell Halvor), 1912-1939  Search this
Dunning, William  Search this
Douglas, William A.  Search this
Eggan, Fred, 1906-1991  Search this
Edmondson, Munro S.  Search this
Black, Mary B.  Search this
Benedict, Ruth, 1887-1948  Search this
Domengeaux, James  Search this
Feldman, Albert G.  Search this
Feder, Norman  Search this
Gacs, Ute  Search this
Franklin, John Hope  Search this
Ewers, John C. (John Canfield), 1909-1997  Search this
Erickson, Vincent O.  Search this
Falk, Minna R.  Search this
Faitlovitch, V.  Search this
Alberto Torres, Heloisa  Search this
Buck, Pearl  Search this
Bruce, Harold E.  Search this
Borri, Rina  Search this
Boggs, Stephen Taylor  Search this
Arensberg, Conrad M. (Conrad Maynadier), 1910-1997  Search this
Baldus, Herbert  Search this
Barnouw, Victor  Search this
Bateson, Mary Catherine  Search this
Lurie, Nancy Oestreich  Search this
Malherbe, E. G. (Ernst Gideon), 1895-  Search this
Marks, Eli S.  Search this
Masha, Louise  Search this
Maslow, Will  Search this
Masquat, Joseph M.  Search this
Mayer, Kurt B.  Search this
McWilliams, Carey  Search this
Bunche, Ralph J.  Search this
Carneiro, Edison  Search this
Chilver, E. M.  Search this
Chilver, Richard  Search this
Clifton, James A.  Search this
Colson, Elizabeth F.  Search this
Daveron, Alexander  Search this
Lowenfeld, Margaret, 1890-1973  Search this
Officer, James E.  Search this
Odum, Howard W.  Search this
Park, Alice  Search this
Paredes, Anthony  Search this
Paton, Alan, 1903-1988  Search this
Park, George  Search this
Prado, Idabel do  Search this
Peschel, Keewaydinoquay M.  Search this
Merwe, Hendrik W. van der  Search this
Murphy, Robert Francis  Search this
Messing, Simon D.  Search this
Neumann, Anita  Search this
Nef, Evelyn Stefansson  Search this
Nocktonick, Louise  Search this
Neumann, Walter  Search this
Landes, Ruth, 1908-1991  Search this
Committee on Fair Employment Practices  Search this
Fisk University  Search this
Research in Contemporary Cultures  Search this
Johnson, Charles S.  Search this
Landes, Ruth, 1908-1991  Search this
Park, Robert E.  Search this
26.5 Linear feet ((63 document boxes and 1 oversized box))
Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwa)  Search this
Dakota (Eastern Sioux)  Search this
African  Search this
Acadians  Search this
Indians of North America -- Great Plains  Search this
Jews -- American  Search this
Latinos -- California  Search this
Brazilians  Search this
Basques  Search this
American Indians  Search this
Afro-Brazilians  Search this
Africans  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Quebec -- Bilingualism
United Kingdom -- colored immigration
South Africa
Most of Ruth Landes's papers relate directly or indirectly to Landes's American Indian research, her work in Brazil, and her study of bilingualism. There is also a considerable amount of material that relates to her experiences (sometimes fictionalized) at Fisk University. There is only small amount of material related to her other interests. Her collection also has material of and relating to the Brazilian folklorist and journalist Edison Carneiro. There is also noteworthy material concerning Herbert Baldus, Ruth Benedict, Elmer C. Imes, Charles S. Johnson, and Robert E. Park. There is a large amount of printed and processed materials in the collection, mainly in the form of newspaper clippings and a collection of scholarly papers.
Scope and Contents:
This collection is mainly comprised of the professional papers of Ruth Schlossberg Landes. Included are correspondence, journals, published and unpublished manuscripts of writings, research materials including field notes and reading notes, photographs, drawings, scholarly papers and publications by other scholars, and clippings from newspapers and periodicals.

Landes's field research on Candomblé in Brazil is well-represented in this collection, consisting of her field journals, writings, and photographs. Also present are Maggie Wilson's stories that were the basis for Landes's The Ojibwa Woman. Unfortunately, Landes was unable to locate her journals for her early research with the Ojibwa/Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Dakota. There are, however, field photographs of the Ojibwa/Chippewa and Potawatomi in the collection. There is also a great deal of her research on groups, especially minorities, in multilingual states with particular focus on the French of Quebec, Basques of Spain and the United States, Boers and Blacks of South Africa, the several socio-linguistic groups of Switzerland, and Acadians (Cajuns) of Louisiana. In the collection are several drafts of her unpublished manuscript on bilingualism, "Tongues that Defy the State." There is also a small amount of material about Black Jews of New York and considerable material about Landes's experience among African Americans when she taught briefly at Fisk University, including her unpublished manuscript "Now, at Athens," containing fictional and autobiographical accounts of her time at Fisk.

Reflections of other facets of Landes's professional activities are also included. Some materials concern her teaching activities, and there is also documentation of her work with the Fair Employment Practices Commission (a federal government agency during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt) and a similar private organization which immediately succeeded the FEPA; Gunnar Myrdal's research into the plight of African Americans ("The Negro in America"); the Research in Contemporary Cultures project at Columbia University; and the American Jewish Congress.

Among Landes's correspondents are Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Ralph Bunche, Herbert Baldus, Edison Carneiro, Sally Chilver, Frances Densmore, Sol Tax, Elmer S. Imes, Charles S. Johnson, Robert E. Park, and Hendrik W. van der Merwe.
The collection is organized into 6 series: (1) Correspondence, 1931-1991; (2) Research Materials, circa 1930s-1990; (3) Writings, circa 1930s-1990; (4) Teaching Materials, 1935-1975, undated; (5) Biographical and Personal Files, 1928-1988; (6) Graphic Materials, 1933-1978, undated
Biographical Note:
Ruth Schlossberg Landes was born on October 8, 1908 in New York City. Her father was Joseph Schlossberg, an activist in the Yiddish labor socialist community and one of the founders of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. She studied sociology at New York University (B.A. 1928) and social work at the New York School of Social Work, Columbia University (M.S.W. 1929). While in graduate school, Landes studied Black Jews in Harlem for her master's thesis, a topic that developed her interests in anthropology.

After graduating in 1929, she worked as a social worker in Harlem and married Victor Landes, a medical student and son of family friends. Their marriage ended after two years when she enrolled in the doctoral program in anthropology at Columbia against her husband's wishes. She kept his surname due to the stigma of being a divorced woman.

At Columbia, Landes studied under Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, her main advisor. Under the guidance of Benedict, Landes moved away from further study of African Americans to focus on Native American communities. Upon Benedict's suggestion, Landes studied the social organization of the Ojibwa in Manitou Rapids in Ontario from 1932 to 1936 for her Ph.D. fieldwork. Her dissertation, Ojibwa Sociology, was published in 1937. Landes also contributed "The Ojibwa of Canada" in Cooperation and Competition among Primitive Peoples (1937), a volume edited by Margaret Mead. In 1938, Landes published Ojibwa Women (1938), a book written in collaboration with Maggie Wilson, an Ojibwa interpreter and informant.

In addition to studying the Ojibwa in Ontario, Landes also conducted fieldwork with the Chippewa of Red Lake, Minnesota in 1933, working closely with shaman or midé Will Rogers. Her book, Ojibwa Religion and the Midéwiwin (1968) was based largely on her research with Rogers and Maggie Wilson. In 1935 and 1936, she undertook fieldwork with the Santee Dakota in Minnesota and the Potawatomi in Kansas. Like Ojibwa Religion and the Midéwiwin, her books on the Santee Dakota and Potawatomi were not published until several years later—The Mystic Lake Sioux: Sociology of the Mdewakantonwan Sioux was published in 1968 while The Prairie Potawatomi was published in 1970. In between her field research in the 1930s and the publication of The Prairie Potawatomi, Landes returned to Kansas to study the Potawatomi in the 1950s and 1960s.

Landes's plan to continue her studies with the Potawatomi in 1937 changed when Benedict invited her to join a team of researchers from Columbia University in Brazil. Landes was to conduct research on Afro-Brazilians in Bahia, Brazil, while Walter Lipkind, Buell Quain, and Charles Wagley studied indigenous people in the Amazons. To prepare for her research, Landes was at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1937 and 1938 to consult with Robert Park and Donald Pierson and to use the university's library collections of African and African American materials. During that time, Landes also held a teaching position at Fisk and lived in the non-segregated women's residence on campus. Landes later wrote "Now, at Athens," an unpublished memoir containing fictional and true accounts of her experiences at Fisk.

From 1938 to 1939, Landes conducted fieldwork on the role of Afro-Brazilian women and homosexuals in the Candomblé religion in Bahia, Brazil. Unable to move freely by herself in Brazil as a single woman, Landes was accompanied by Edison Carneiro, a Bahian journalist and folklorist. With Carneiro as her companion, Landes was allowed access to rituals and people that would have been closed off to her otherwise. Due to her association with Carneiro, a member of the Brazilian Communist Party, Landes was suspected of being a communist and was forced to leave Bahia early. Publications from her research in Brazil include "A Cult Matriarchate and Male Homosexuality" (1940) and City of Women (1947). She returned to Brazil in 1966 to study the effects of urban development in Rio de Janeiro. In 1967, a Portuguese translation of City of Women was published, a project that Carneiro had commissioned as the first director of the Ministry of Education and Culture's Special National Agency for the Protection of Folklore.

Landes returned to New York in 1939, working briefly as a researcher for Gunnar Myrdal's study of African Americans. Unable to obtain a permanent position at a university, she worked in several other short term positions throughout most of her career. During World War II, Landes was a research director for the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs (1941) and consultant for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practices Committee on African American and Mexican American cases (1941-44). In 1945, Landes directed a program created by Pearl S. Buck and a group of interdenominational clergy to analyze pending New York anti-discrimination legislation. She moved to California the following year to work for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Welfare Council on a study of race and youth gangs. After her contract ended, she moved back to New York and was hired as a contract researcher for the American Jewish Congress (1948-50). She also participated in Columbia University's Research in Contemporary Cultures (1949-51), studying Jewish families. She coauthored with Mark Zborowski, "Hypothesis concerning the Eastern European Jewish Family." From 1951 to 1952, Landes spent a year in London, funded by a Fulbright fellowship to study colored colonial immigrants and race relations in Great Britain.

After her fellowship ended, Landes returned to the United States and held short term appointments at several universities. She taught at the William Alanson White Psychiatric Institution in New York (1953-54), the New School for Social Research in New York (1953-55), University of Kansas (1957, 1964), University of Southern California (1957-62), Columbia University (1963), Los Angeles State College (1963), and Tulane University (1964). At Claremont Graduate School, Landes helped to develop and direct the Claremont Anthropology and Education Program (1959-62).

It was not until 1965 that Landes obtained a permanent faculty position at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario; she was recruited for the position by Richard Slobodin. Due to Ontario's age retirement law, Landes was forced to retire in 1973 at the age of 65. She continued to teach part-time until 1977, when she became professor emerita.

Landes passed away at the age of 82 on February 11, 1991.

Sources Consulted

Cole, Sally. 2003. Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.


1908 October 8 -- Born Ruth Schlossberg in New York City

1928 -- B.A. in sociology, New York University

1929 -- M.S.W., New York School of Social Work, Columbia University

1929-1931 -- Social worker in Harlem Married to Victor Landes

1929-1934 -- Studied Black Jews in Harlem

1931 -- Began graduate work in anthropology at Columbia University

1932-1936 -- Studied the Ojibwa in Ontario and Minnesota (in field periodically)

1933-1940 -- Research Fellow, Columbia University

1935 Summer-Fall -- Studied the Santee Sioux (Dakota) in Minnesota

1935-1936 -- Studied the Potawatomi in Kansas

1935 -- Ph.D., Columbia University

1937 -- Instructor, Brooklyn College

1937-1938 -- Instructor, Fisk University

1938-1939 -- Studied Afro-Brazilians and Candomblé in Brazil, especially at Bahia

1939 -- Researcher on Gunnar Myrdal's study, "The Negro in America"

1941 -- Research Director, Office of Inter American Affairs, Washington, D.C.

1941-1945 -- Representative for Negro and Mexican American Affairs, Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), President Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration

1944 -- Interim Director, Committee Against Racial Discrimination, New York

1946-1947 -- Researcher, study of Mexican American youth, gangs, and families, Los Angeles Metropolitan Council

1948-1951 -- Researcher, American Jewish Congress, New York

1949-1951 -- Research consultant, study on Jewish families in New York for Research in Contemporary Cultures Project, Columbia University

1951-1952 -- Fulbright Scholar, to study colored colonial immigration into Great Britain

1953-1954 -- Lecturer, William Alanson White Psychiatric Institution, New York

1953-1955 -- Lecturer, New School for Social Research, New York

1956-1957 -- Married to Ignacio Lutero Lopez

1957 Summer -- Visiting Professor, University of Kansas

1957-1958 -- Visiting Professor, University of Southern California

1957-1965 -- Consultant, California agencies (Department of Social Work, Bureau of Mental Hygiene, Department of Education, Public Health Department) and San Francisco Police Department

1958-1959 -- Director, Geriatrics Program, Los Angeles City Health Department

1959-1962 -- Visiting Professor and Director of Anthropology and Education Program, Claremont Graduate School

1962 -- Extension Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Berkeley

1963 -- Extension Lecturer, Columbia University Extension Lecturer, Los Angeles State College

1963-1965 -- Consultant, International Business Machines (IBM)

1964 January-June -- Visiting Professor, Tulane University

1964 Summer -- Field work with Potawatomi in Kansas Professor, University of Kansas

1965-1975 -- Professor at McMaster University

1966 -- Studied urban development in Rio de Janeiro

1968-1975 -- Studied bilingualism and biculturalism in Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, United States, and Canada (in Spain and the United States concentrated on Basques)

1975 -- Became part-time faculty member at McMaster University

1977 -- Professor Emerita, McMaster University

1978 -- Award of Merit from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

1991 February 11 -- Died in Hamilton, Ontario

1991 -- Establishment of the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund at Research Institute for the Study of Man (RISM)
Related Materials:
Correspondence from Ruth Landes can be found in the William Duncan Strong Papers, the Leonard Bloomfield Papers, and MS 7369. The Ruth Bunzel Papers contains a copy of a grant application by Landes.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Ruth Landes in 1991.
The Ruth Landes papers are open for research. The nitrate negatives in this collection have been separated from the collection and stored offsite. Access to nitrate negatives is restricted due to preservation concerns.

Access to the Ruth Landes papers requires an appointment.
Contact the repository for terms of use.
African Americans  Search this
Language and languages -- Documentation  Search this
Indians of North America -- Northeast  Search this
Midéwiwin  Search this
Bilingualism  Search this
Aging  Search this
Candomblé (Religion)  Search this
Ruth Landes papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
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The Crisis, Vol. 13, No. 5

Edited by:
W.E.B. Du Bois, American, 1868 - 1963  Search this
Subject of:
The Crisis, American, founded 1910  Search this
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American, founded 1909  Search this
Dunbar High School, American, founded 1870  Search this
Photograph by:
Scurlock Studio, American, founded 1904  Search this
Written by:
Angelina Weld Grimké, American, 1880 - 1958  Search this
Effie Lee Newsome, American, 1885 - 1979  Search this
Illustrated by:
Georgia Douglas Johnson, American, 1880 - 1966  Search this
Louise R. Latimer, American  Search this
ink on paper with metal
H x W: 9 3/4 × 6 7/8 in. (24.8 × 17.5 cm)
H x W (Open): 9 3/4 × 13 5/8 in. (24.8 × 34.6 cm)
magazines (periodicals)
Place printed:
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place depicted:
Haiti, Caribbean, Latin America, North and Central America
England, Europe
Washington, District of Columbia, United States, North and Central America
March 1917
African American  Search this
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American South  Search this
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U.S. History, 1865-1921  Search this
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Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
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Public domain
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National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
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Harlem Renaissance (New Negro Movement)
Anti-Lynching Movement
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The Liberator, Vol. XXIV, No. 16

Created by:
The Liberator, American, 1831 - 1865  Search this
Edited by:
William Lloyd Garrison, American, 1805 - 1879  Search this
Published by:
Isaac Knapp, American, 1808 - 1858  Search this
Printed by:
J.B. Yerrington & Son, American  Search this
ink on paper
H x W (closed): 25 1/4 × 18 3/8 in. (64.1 × 46.7 cm)
Place printed:
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
April 21, 1854
African American  Search this
Activism  Search this
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Resistance  Search this
Self-liberation  Search this
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U.S. History, 1815-1861  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from the Liljenquist Family Collection
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No Known Copyright Restrictions
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National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
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Liljenquist Family Collection
Slavery and Freedom Objects
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Abolitionist movement
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