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.
This finding aid uses Ahtna as the primary term when referring to the Ahtna people. However, de Laguna consistently used the term Atna in her research and writings. The physical folder titles using de Laguna's own descriptions have not be altered.
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 Mary Harriman Rumsey collection largely consists of photographic prints and lantern slides documenting the Harriman Expedition to Alaska in summer 1899. These depict members of the expedition and Alaskan scenery and people. The collection also includes scenic photographs of Alaska taken by Dora Keen in 1914 and photographs of Blackfeet, Hopi, Apache, and Suquamish Indians made by Edward Curtis in 1900 and 1903.
Scope and Contents:
The bulk of the collection comprises photographic prints, lantern slides, and one map documenting the Harriman Alaska Expedition from May to July of 1899. These photographs were made by members of the expedition, most prominently its official photographer Edward S. Curtis, funder Edward Henry Harriman, and lead scientist C. Hart Merriam. They depict Alaskan scenery, members of the expedition, and Native people and settlements that they encountered. Mary Harriman Rumsey's collection also includes later platinum prints of American Indians made and signed by Curtis (1900, 1903), photographs of glaciers in Alaska by Dora Keen (1914), a photograph of a painting by Charles Schreyvogel (1903), and a photograph of White Pass by Arthur Clarence Pillsbury (1898).
The collection is arranged in three series: photographs relating to the Harriman Expedition; photographs of Alaska that were not made on the Harriman Expedition; and other photographs relating to American Indians. The Harriman series is arranged in a rough chronological order.
Biographical / Historical:
Mary Harriman Rumsey (1881-1934) was an important American philanthropist and the oldest child of railroad tycoon Edward Henry Harriman. In 1901, while studying at Barnard College, she co-founded the Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements (later named the Junior League of the City of New York), which facilitated charitable work by privileged women among New York's impoverished groups. Rumsey's efforts lead to the establishment of the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. in 1921. Additionally, Rumsey co-founded Today magazine with her brother Averell Harriman and others, and in 1933 she chaired the Consumer Advisory Board of the National Recovery Administration.
In 1899, Mary Harriman was among the Harriman family members who accompanied the Harriman Alaska Expedition. Originally planned as a bear-hunting trip for the family, the expedition, was funded by Edward Henry Harriman and organized with the help of ethnographer and naturalist Clinton Hart Merriam. The party of accomplished scientists, naturalists, photographers, artists, and writers cruised from British Columbia to Siberia and back on a private ship, the SS George W. Elder, in June and July of 1899. The scientists' findings were published in the thirteen-volume Harriman Alaska Series, and Harriman also paid the expedition's official photographer, Edward S. Curtis, to compile souvenir albums from the over 5,000 photographs made during the course of the expedition.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives, University of Washington Special Collections, and Library of Congress have photo albums relating to the Harriman Alaska Expedition. The SI Archives also holds the Harriman Alaska Expedition Collection and photogravure plates from the Harriman Alaska Series.
NMAI holds photogravure plates and proofs made from Edward Curtis's later photographs and Frederick Dellenbaugh's expedition notes in the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records. The National Anthropological Archives also holds Curtis photographs and papers.
The following materials were also part of Mary Harriman Rumsey's estate, gifted to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in 1934. Where possible, their current locations have been noted.
33 artifacts, most of which were likely collected in Alaska by the Harriman Alaska Expedition, are now housed in the NMAI object collection (catalog numbers 18/6460 - 18/6494)
A set of Harriman Alaska Expedition books, probably now in the Cornell University Libraries
4 phonograph records
A bundle of botanical specimens
This collection was donated as part of the estate of Mary Harriman Rumsey to the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in May 1934.
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Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to email@example.com. For personal or classroom use, users are invited users to download, print, photocopy, and distribute the images that are available online without prior written permission, provided that the files are not changed, the Smithsonian Institution copyright notice (where applicable) is included, and the source of the image is identified as the National Museum of the American Indian.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Mary Harriman Rumsey Collection of Harriman Alaska Expedition Photographs, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
This collection was processed with funding from the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
This subseries of the Alaska/Northwest Coast series contains Harrington's Tlingit and Eyak research. The materials consist of vocabulary, grammar, texts, notes on natural history and other related materials, and writings.
Harrington collected an early vocabulary list from Thomas Skeek. He also recorded rehearings with Skeek, and possibly Sheldon James, of vocabulary from Franz Boas' (1917) "Grammatical Notes on the Language of the Tlingit Indians" [former B.A.E. MS 4103 pt.]. George Johnson provided forms in Yakutat Tlingit (the "Juneau language"), which are marked by "Y." "C." Harrington also copied and reheard a manuscript by Elizabeth Langdon Jacobs titled "Alaskan Tlingit and its Athabaskan Relatives," a paper based in part on her Oregon Athapascan fieldwork around 1935. New data are unmarked, although presumably from Skeek, as suggested by the dates Jan. 18 and 19, 1940. A third basis for elicitation was H. V. Velten's (1939) "Two Southern Tlingit Tales." Only a few lexical items from this article were reheard with Skeek. The remaining vocabulary consists mainly of nouns arranged by Harrington's semantic categories. [Parts formerly cataloged as B.A.E. MS 4100 pt.] Forms from Skeek (Tl.) are followed by those from Johnson (Y. and C.). Skeek is mentioned by name only when his forms are corrected by Johnson. Nonlinguistic data from these speakers and others are interspersed. References are made to specimens collected by Grasty.
The section of field notes Harrington labeled "Grammar" consists in part of notes on phonetics. It also includes a rehearing by Skeek and Johnson of a portion of a comparative Athapascan vocabulary divided into such categories as verbs, greetings, colors, and numbers. Compiled by Harrington and Robert W. Young in the fall and early winter of 1939, the Athapascan questionnaire was alternately referred to as the "Navaho lists" or the "Tlats[kanai] Voc[abulary]." The latter name alluded to the fact that it was organized to follow numbered entries from Boas and Goddard's "Vocabulary of an Athapascan Dialect of the State of Washington" (1924).
Texts are in English with scattered vocabulary items in Tlingit and ethnological and historical references. Stories from George Johnson concern Raven, King Salmon, and Fort Ankau. Myths told by Maggie Adams are about Raven. Tales from this last group were written down first by George Grasty and later copied and rechecked by Harrington.
Harrington's notes on the natural history of the Yakutat area [former B.A.E. MS 4103 pt.] are, in a sense, a diary of the boat trip made to the Head of the Bay. His descriptions of glaciers and the local flora and fauna are particularly detailed and related placenames and native terms are also provided. Scientific observations by Grasty alternate with historical and biographical information volunteered by Ellis and Johnson during the course of the trip.
Harrington's writings on Tlingit and Eyak are undated and could have been prepared as much as several years after his fieldwork was completed. They include works in various stages of preparation, only one of which was published. Dealing with phonetics are an outline titled "Lhiinkit Paper," a rough and final draft of a manuscript "Tlingit Sounds," and two versions of the paper which was eventually published as "Phonematic Daylight in Lhiinkit, Navajo of the North" (1945). "Salmon Write-up" [former B.A.E. MS 4100 pt.] consists of handwritten notes on salmon species with ethnographic details in fishing, storage, and modern-day canning techniques. The typescript "Southern Peripheral Athapaskawan in Alaska and Canada" [former B.A.E. MS 4100 pt.] was probably intended for publication as a B.A.E. bulletin with Robert W. Young as coauthor. Harrington completed only the sections on plant and animal parts and names. Species designations are given with native terms in Tlingit (Lh.) and Eyak (Atch.) and notes on appearances and uses.
Biographical / Historical:
John P. Harrington's work on Tlingit began in December 1939 while visiting Melville and Elizabeth Langdon Jacobs in Seattle. At the U.S. Marine Hospital he located Thomas Skeek (referred to as Skeek), a native of Kake, Alaska, and Sheldon James (James). He worked with these two speakers until at least mid-January of 1940.
From James he learned of George Johnson (GJ), a bilingual speaker of Tlingit and Eyak residing at Yakutat, Alaska. Harrington hoped to bring Johnson to Seattle immediately to work; however, it was not until April that he was authorized to begin the work. He spent 32 days--from approximately May 12 to June 14--at Yakutat, working regularly eight hours a day with George Johnson and his wife Annie. In the evenings Harrington put in time with other speakers such as Maggie Adams (Mag., M.) and Peter Lawrence. In May he and Johnson made day trips to Situk River and Fort Ankau and joined Jack Ellis (JE) and his son John on a three day trip to the head of Yakutat Bay in their gas-powered boat.
In nonlinguistic matters Harrington received the assistance of the Reverend and Mrs. E. M. Axelson, with whom he had corresponded during his attempts to contact George Johnson. For biological data on plant and animal specimens collected, he consulted his assistant George M. Grasty and various botanists in Juneau and Washington, D.C.
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.
Front section of headdress carved of wood with abalone shell inlay. Topknot may be of feather quills with feathers stripped off, or of sea lion whiskers with feathers tied on. Pendants of ermine skins with heads and tails suspended from top of headdress. Tsimshian-like rattle.
Biographical / Historical:
"He was the chief of Teqwedi's Shark House on Khataak Island - the most important man at Yakutat." Died ca. 1890. -Information from Frederica de Laguna.
Photographer: Professor William Libbey of Princeton.