Archiviana: November 1999
Artwork Preservation Project
This has been a terrific year for our preservation program. The archives received major grants from Save America's Treasures and the Smithsonian's Research Resources Program and benefited from the skills of talented interns, volunteers and contract employees.
Since joining our staff on a part-time, temporary basis last year, paper conservator Jayne Holt has divided her time between the treatment of drawings in critical condition and the support of several volunteers. At the Museum Support Center conservation laboratory, Mary LaRosa and Joyce Murrell have rematted nearly 275 paintings and drawings collected by Acee Blue Eagle. Porfiria Riojas recently began her seventh year with us, deftly supervising our storage needs, now with the assistance of Eloise Vitiello.
Meanwhile, the staff of our Digital Imaging Lab have digitized more than 4,800 photographs and leaves of art work in 134 collections, greatly reducing day-to-day handling of fragile originals. Many of the images appear in our online exhibits, such as the Kiowa drawings scanned by volunteer Richard Muñiz (who also created electronic links to them in SIRIS, our online public access catalog). Veteran contractor Frederick Reuss, who produced our first 2,000 images, has embarked on a book-signing tour for Henry of Atlantic City, his second novel. Former summer intern Becky Malinsky is our new digital imaging specialist, the first of three positions supported by the Smithsonian's Digital Imaging Fund.
NAA collections include 20,588 works of native art, mainly North American, Asian and Oceanic. Descriptions of them appear in our Guide to the Collections of the National Anthropological Archives and in SIRIS.
The National Anthropological Archives recently acquired the papers of three notable anthropologists. Ellis R. Kerley (1924-1998), aptly described as a "forensic Sherlock Holmes" by The New York Times, is widely known for his contributions to such high-profile cases as the Jonestown, Guyana, mass suicides, the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the identification of the skeleton of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, and the House investigation of the John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald assassinations. Kerley also supervised the identification of Vietnam War dead at the Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii.
William S. Pollitzer, emeritus professor of anatomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and past president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (1979-81) and the Human Biology Council (1986-88), contributed primary data from his genetic and morphological research on population isolates, including the Brass Ankles, Cajuns, Catawba, Cherokee, Gullah, Haliwa, Kalmuk Mongols, Lumbee, Melungeons and Seminole. Pollitzer's new book, The Gullah People and their African Heritage, was recently published by the University of Georgia Press.
Paul Riesman (1938-1988) conducted fieldwork among the Jelbobe Fulani of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). His first monograph, Freedom in Fulani Social Life: An Introspective Ethnography (1977), was one of the earliest experimental ethnographies. In subsequent research, Riesman examined the relevance of Western theories of developmental psychology for the study of non-Western societies and argued for greater attention to indigenous notions of personhood and social identity. His ethnography of childhood among the Fulani and Riimaaybe appeared posthumously as First Find Your Child a Good Mother: The Construction of Self in Two African Communities (1992).
The National Anthropological Archives actively acquires ethnographic collections. A list of our recent acquisitions (1997-99) is available, as is our Guide to the Collections.
Intimate Truths of the Canela Indians of Brazil
an ethnographic film featuring the work of anthropologist Bill Crocker, curator emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution, debuted on the Discovery Channel on October 17. The film was co-produced by the Human Studies Film Archives and Schecter Films. The film and an accompanying study guide will be distributed by Films for the Humanities and Social Sciences under the title Mending Ways: The Canela Indians of Brazil. Crocker's research is also featured in an online exhibit, Canela Body Adornment.
Publication date: November 1999
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