Robert Francis Maher (1922-1987) was an anthropologist with the University of Western Michigan whose work focused on Oceania. The collection documents his field research in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. His field research in Papua New Guinea focused on cultural change in the Purari Delta and the modernist Tommy Kabu Movement (1946-1968). His field research in the Philippines focused on the ethnological and archaelogical history and changes in the Ifugao province. The collection consists of field notes, excavation notes, census data, genealogy charts, grant applications, research files, research proposals, maps, correspondence, manuscripts, sound recordings, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Robert F. Maher document his field research in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. His field research in Papua New Guinea focused on cultural change in the Purari Delta and the modernist Tommy Kabu Movement (1946-1968). His field research in the Philippines focused on the ethnological and archaelogical history and changes in the Ifugao province. The collection consists of field notes, excavation notes, census data, genealogy charts, grant applications, research files, research proposals, maps, correspondence, manuscripts, sound recordings, and photographs.
The Papua New Guinea research files primarily consist of Maher's fieldwork diary from 1954-1955. Included with the diary is an annotated partial typescript transcription. Other material includes excavation notes and dwelling information. There is also census material from Tommy Kabu about a work area known as Rabia Camp. The diary describes Maher's time with Tommy Kabu at Rabia Camp and Port Moresby, as well as his time in the Purari Delta.
The Philippines research files include field notes, excavation notes, census data, genealogy charts, and research files. The field notes contain detailed reports on pottery, tools, and agricultural and social aspects of the Ifugao province. The census data chiefly contains undated questionnaires filled out by residents of different Ifugao villages. The research files contain reports along with correspondence. Some of the fieldwork reports, along with census data and genealogy charts, were probably authored by two of Maher's research assistants, Emilio Pagada and Ben Pitpitunge.
The bulk of the correspondence is professional in nature, and primarily concern his work in the Philippines. Included is correspondence with anthropologists Harold C. Conklin, William A. Longacre, Daniel J. Scheans, Richard Shutler, and Wilheim G. Solheim. Also included are letters from Tommy Kabu.
The sound recordings contain 5 magnetic tape reels (3 in.) likely recorded in the Ifugao Provice of the Philippines.
The photographs and slides are unprocessed.
This collection is arranged in 6 series:
Series 1: Research, 1944, 1954-1985
Series 2: Correspondence, 1953-1987
Series 3: Writings, 1961-1983
Series 4: Writings by Others, circa 1950s - circa 1980s
Series 5: Sound Recordings, undated
Series 6: Photographs
Robert F. Maher was born in Eldora, Iowa in 1922. He studied anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received his B.S. in 1948, his M.A. in 1950, and his Ph.D. in 1958. He was an instructor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in 1953-1954, and at DePauw University in 1956-1957. He joined the Department of Sociology at Western Michigan University in 1957 and became professor of anthropology there in 1966. In 1967, he became the first chairman of the UWM department of Anthropology. He remained at UWM until he died.
Most of Maher's publications concern his work in Oceania. In 1954-1955, as a Ford Foundation fellow he began research on the Namau, the people of the Purari Delta in Papua New Guinea, concentrating on culture change and, in particular, on the modernist Tommy Kabu Movement. In 1961, he published New Men of Papua: A Study in Cultural Change which earned him the Genevieve Gorst Herfurth Award for outstanding social science. He returned to Papua New Guinea in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1983, often only staying there for a small amount of time.
In 1960-1961, Maher began a Senior Fulbright Research Grant funded study of the ethnological and archeological history of the Ifugao region of the Philippines. He returned to that area in 1973, 1975, 1978, and 1982. While in Ifugao, Maher conducted cultural studies and excavations in eleven villages and over four agricultural districts including the Banaue, Burnay, and Kiangan districts.
Maher also carried out ethnological and archeological work in the United States. He was a member of the University of Wisconsin Chippewa Reservation Research Project in 1951-1952, and he and his students worked with the Potowatomi of Michigan from 1959 forward. In 1952, he was an assistant director of excavations at the Black Widow site in South Dakota for the River Basin Surveys. He also carried out archeological work in Wisconsin and at Aztalan in the Southwest. Outside the United States, he carried out a survey of villages in Okyama Prefecture in Japan in 1960.
Maher died of cancer in 1987 shortly before he was due to retire after 30 years of teaching. The University of Western Michigan has established an anthropology scholarship in his name.
Solheim, Wilhelm G.
1967 Robert F. Maher 1922-1987. Asian Perspectives 27(1).
1922 -- Born on July 14 in Eldora, Iowa
1948 -- B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconson at Madison
1950 -- M.S. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison
1953-1954 -- Instructor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
1954-1955 -- Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
1956-1957 -- Instructor at DePauw University
1958 -- Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison
1959-1960 -- Research on the Potawatomi in Michigan
1960 -- Fieldwork in Okayama Prefecture, Japan
1960-1961 -- Fieldwork in the Philippines
1961 -- Published New Men of Papua
1966-1987 -- Professor at Western Michigan University
1973 -- Fieldwork in the Philippines Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
1974 -- Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
1975 -- Fieldwork in the Philippines
1976 -- Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
1978 -- Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea Fieldwork in the Philippines
1982 -- Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea Fieldwork in the Philippines
1983 -- Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea
1987 -- Died of cancer on March 26
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Robert Maher's wife, Lee Maher, in 1988.
The Robert Francis Maher papers are open for research. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Access to the Robert Francis Maher papers requires an appointment.
Robert Francis Maher papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Funding for the processing of this collection as well as for digitization of the sound recording was provided by the the Arcadia Fund.
Photographs made by Richard Ahlborn during a study trip to Luzon's Mountain Province on a Fullbright grant. They document villages, houses, terraces, religious figures, a wake, and Igorot and Ifugao peoples in Banawe (Banaue) and Bontoc.
Richard E. Ahlborn is a cultural historian and curator in the Division of Community Life of the Smithsonianʹs National Museum of American History. In the 1950s, he was a photographer for the Department of Cultural History in the Museum of History and Technology.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 83-23, NAA MS 4957
Location of Other Archival Materials:
MS 4957, previously filed in Photo Lot 97, has been relocated and merged with Photo Lot 83-23. These photographs were also made by Richard E. Ahlborn in Luzon and form part of this collection.
Correspondence from Ahlborn can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in the Society for Historical Archaeology records and John Lawrence Angel's papers.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives holds curatorial, exhibition, agency, and departmental records for Ahlborn from his time in the Department of Cultural History and the Division of Community Life.
The Latin American Library at Tulane University holds photographs by Ahlborn of Filipino-Hispanic architecture and art in the Philippines.