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Department of Anthropology

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The Anthropological Society of Washington (ASW) was founded in a series of meetings beginning February 10, 1879. It was formally organized on February 17, 1879. On December 13, 1887, it was incorporated in the District of Columbia. According to its original charter, its purpose was to encourage "the study of the natural history of man, especially with reference to America." Membership was open to all who were interested in anthropology.

From its beginning, the ASW has been essentially a local organization serving the needs of anthropologists in the capital city. Its business affairs were entrusted to a board of managers, and the general membership largely engaged in periodic meetings of a scientific nature focusing on the research of local members. Such characteristics, however, belie its significance in the growth of American anthropology as an organized discipline. Since government-sponsored anthropology centered in Washington--in the earlier days largely at the Smithsonian and, later, extending to other agencies--the talks and discussions have involved leading anthropologists involved in original work at the forefront of their disciplines. It followed that ASW's early membership, in spite of its essentially local nature, was nationally and internationally known. Furthermore, in the American Anthropologist, the ASW established the first American journal of national scope concerned exclusively with anthropology, and the publication provided an outlet for anthropologists throughout the country.

During the early decades of the twentieth century, with the American Ethnological Society (AES), the ASW played a role in the founding of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the organization to become the major national organization for English-speaking North American anthropologists. The influence of the Washingtonians was particularly evident in the fact that the AAA became a general membership organization rather than restricted to professionals. Arrangements were thus possible for ASW membership to bring automatic AAA affiliation, a fact allowing the ASW, with its large nonprofessional membership, to exert considerable influence over the national organization.

The Washington group also provided the major AAA publication. Before AAA establishment, Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science moved to make the American Anthropologist a truly national journal. Thus the Anthropologist was placed under two owners (WJ McGee, of Washington, and Franz Boas, of New York) and a board of managers drawn from anthropologists of Washington and other major cities. With the founding of the AAA, it took over the journal as the official organ of the AAA, ASW, and AES.

Yet another instance of ASW influence came during the 1940s, when many anthropologists were in federal service. It was these anthropologists who perceived AAA weakness: its large nonprofessional membership and its failure to bring many professionals onto its roster. They readily understood these as handicaps in influencing post-World War II federal policies affecting the social sciences. ASW initially provided the manpower, forum and, to funds for a drive toward a more professional association. The ASW did this despite adjustments in its relations with the AAA that, of necessity, followed.

On the local scene, ASW was a founding organization of the Joint Commission of Scientific Societies, which eventually developed into the Washington Academy of Sciences. In 1908, it absorbed the members of the Washington-based Women's Anthropological Society of America. It also played a part in founding the Social Science Federation of Washington. In addition, the ASW became involved in movements of local interest that ranged from opposition to the antivivisectionism of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to its interest in the George Washington Memorial Fund and the improvement of dwellings of the poor.

The records concern ASW organization, membership, and management. Records of its early meetings include not only minutes but also summaries--and at times almost complete papers--of talks and discussions. Often the speakers wrote these manuscripts. There are also small quantities of documents concerning the national and local developments in which the ASW was involved. In addition, documents of the 1950s and 1960s concern special publications and special programs that often involved appearances by outstanding anthropologists from outside Washington.

Persons whose correspondence and other materials are in the records are Lewis Allen, William H. Babcock, Frank Baker, Ralph L. Beals, John W. Bennett, Margaret C. Blaker, Daniel G. Brinton, Franz Boas, John G. Bourke, Robert J. Braidwood, Solon J. Buck, George F. Carter, Joseph B. Casagrande, John M. Cooper, Stewart Culin, Frank H. Cushing, Frances Densmore, George Devereux, George A. Dorsey, Cora Du Bois, George S. Duncan, Loren C. Eiseley, Clifford Evans, William N. Fenton, J. Walter Fewkes, Regina Flannery, Alice C. Fletcher, Robert H. Fletcher, Weston Flint, Daniel Folkmar, Theodore Gaus, Thomas F. Gladwin, Pliny E. Goddard, Joseph H. Greenberg, William G. Haag, Alfred I. Hallowell, Paul Haupt, J.N.B. Hewitt, Frederick Webb Hodge, Walter Hough. Aleš Hrdlicka, Olive E. Hite, William Henry Jackson, Neil M. Judd, Clyde Kluckhohn, Eugene I. Knez, Margaret L. Lantis, Thomas J. Larson, Carl Lumholtz, Arthur MacDonald, Bela C. Maday, Otis T. Mason, R.H. Mathews, Washington Matthews, George C. Maynard, Ernst Mayr, Betty J. Meggers, John C. Merriam, Truman Michelson, Warren K. Moorehead, WJ McGee, Joseph D. McGuire, James Mooney, George P. Murdock, Marshall T. Newman, P.B. Pierce, Erik K. Reed, Saul H. Riesenberg, Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr., Adolph H. Schultz, Frank M. Setzler, Lauriston Sharp, Antonio Carlos Simoens da Silva, Albert C. Spaulding, Frederick Starr, Julian H. Steward, T. Dale Stewart, William Duncan Strong, William C. Sturtevant, John R. Swanton, Robert M. Tatum, Cyrus Thomas, William Wallace Tooker, George L. Trager, L.B. Tuckerman, Waldo R. Wedel, J.S. Weiner, Erminie Wheeler Voegelin, Leslie A. White, Arnold M. Withers, and Richard B. Woodbury.

DATES: 1879-1968

QUANTITY: ca. 3.7 linear meters (ca. 13 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Constitution and bylaws; (2) minutes of meetings; (3) correspondence; (4) report of the curator; (5) records of the treasurer; (6) records of the secretary; (7) data about ASW history abstracted from the records; (8) publications; (9) publications about ASW history; (10) records regarding the exhibit "Anthropology and the Nation's Capital"; (11) library; (12) general file, 1964-1977; (13) records of the treasurer, 1953-1975; (14) records of the secretary, 1920-1923; (15) sound recordings, 1971, 1974

FINDING AIDS: Box list with index

CALL NUMBER: Manuscript 4821


The print includes Wilson D. Wallis, Diamond Jenness, and Charles M. Barbeau, all students at Oxford; Henry Balfour, of the Pitt Rivers Museum; Arthur Thomson, the professor of anatomy and physical anthropologist; and R.R. Marett, who was appointed about this time to a chair of social anthropology.

DATE: 1910

QUANTITY: 1 print

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 76-130


The collection consists of photographic prints and negatives, photographic copies of sketches, photomechanical prints, copper plates, and a few notes. During the 1950s, the archives put the file together from photographs of diverse origin. Some items are from other collections in the National Anthropological Archives.

There are portraits of Franz Boas, Q.M. Bond, Arno B. Cammerer, Frank H. Cushing, Edwin Hamilton Davis, J. Woodbridge Davis, Frances Densmore, James O. Dorsey, Philip Drucker, J. Walter Fewkes, Albert S. Gatschet, James A. Geary, De Lancey W. Gill, George Brown Goode, Horatio Hale, Henry W. Henshaw, J.N.B. Hewitt, John K. Hillers, William Henry Holmes, William Henry Jackson, Eugene I. Knez, Alfred L. Kroeber, Père Albert Lacomb, Augustus Le Plongeon, James Mooney, Lewis Henry Morgan, Carl Oschsicanes, James C. Pilling, John Wesley Powell, Frau Signe Rink, Frank H.H. Roberts, Jr., Charles C. Royce, Robert L. Stephenson, James Stevenson, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, Julian H. Steward, Steward Struever, James G. Swan, John R. Swanton, Edwin P. Upham, Wilcomb E. Washburn, and Gordon R. Willey.

Groups include the Bureau of American Ethnology staff, 1936; the De Soto Commission; American Association for the Advancement of Science officers, 1885; a 1920 expedition to Hawikuk; staff of the Great Lakes Division, United States Geological Survey, in Salt Lake City, 1882; a group at Moundville, Alabama, 1932; the University of Nebraska archeological field party, 1920; the Pecos conference, 1927; John Wesley Powell with Wild Hank, Kentucky Mountain Bill, and Jesus Aloiso; and the United States Geological Survey staff, ca. 1894.

Selected photographers are Vernon Orlando Bailey, Blackston Studios of New York, Dana of New York, Gene Garrett, C.W. Gilbert, De Lancey W. Gill, John K. Hillers, William Henry Jackson, Kets Kemethy, Paul Koby, David McDonough, H.C. Phillips, Rice of Washington, D.C., and Shuck of El Reno, Oklahoma. The Henshaw portrait is a photograph of a Grace Nicholson sketch.

DATES: ca. 1860s-1960s

QUANTITY: ca. 215 items

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Individual portraits but also including such subjects as homes, burials, family members, and so forth; (2) groups. Both are arranged alphabetically.


CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 33


The immediate source of the collection was the Department of Anthropology, and much of it appears assembled by Aleš Hrdlicka. There are other sources as well. Most items are duplicated in other collections.

Hrdlicka's material includes physical anthropological specimens; portraits of White River Apache, Chichimec, Cora, Marahna, Maricopa, Mayo, Mohave, Nahuas, Navaho, Opata, Papago, Pawnee, Pima (including the school at Sacaton, Arizona), San Juan, Seri, Tarascans, Tepehuanes, Tepecanos, Tlahuiltecs, Walapai, Yaqui, Yuma (including a stick and ring game and the Yuma Indian School), and Zacatecas beggars; views and people at Acoma, Hopi villages (including the Keam's Canyon School), Isleta, Laguna, San Juan, Sia, Taos, Zuni (including a series showing a potter at work); views showing occupations among the Apache, Chippewa, Cora, Huichol, Otomi, Pima, and Tarascans; churches in Mexico; archeological views in Peru; and a few 1956photographs to show Indian-like Asians (Formosans, Igorot, Kalmuk, Tinggian, American Indian types, and American Indian children; and views made in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

There are also photographs by Frances Densmore of Dakota, Hidatsa, Mandan, Papago, and Ute; Alice C. Fletcher photographs of Winnebago and Nez Perce; Richard Lynch Garner photographs made in West Africa; John K. Hillers photographs of Paiute; William Henry Holmes photographs of a quarry; James Mooney Arapaho Ghost Dance views; Frank G. Speck photographs of Houma and Cherokee; V. Suk photographs made in East Africa; John R. Swanton photographs made in tracing De Soto's route through the Southeast. In addition, there are series of photographs showing American Indian dwellings, American Indian drawings, Napo and other Indians of South America, ruins and other features at Jalisco, La Quemada, and Tula in Mexico; pottery specimens from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia; miscellaneous archeological sites in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida; and early man specimens and sites. There are also photographs made in Australia, Borneo, Java, Philippines, Sumatra, Tahiti, and Turkey.

DATES: Most ca. 1890s-1950s

QUANTITY: Uncounted

ARRANGEMENT: Some by subject; many unarranged

FINDING AID: List of file categories

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 92-46


One print is by Laton Alton Huffman.

DATES: No date

QUANTITY: 2 prints

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 80-19


The photographs show Mickey Free, a scout; a group of four scouts; and a woman purported to be 106 years old.

DATE: No date

QUANTITY: 3 prints

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 91-2


With the passage of federal environmental and cultural heritage legislation during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, archeological investigations were required before federal land could be disturbed for construction projects. Reports of these investigations, often conducted by archeological contractors, were generally published in processed rather than printed form. The multiliths, electrostats, dittographs, and so forth are referred to as "grey literature." Access to them is sometimes difficult because many libraries decline to collect them.

The collection was formed largely from four sources: (1) Smithsonian curators, who receive contract archeology reports and have passed them on to the archives; (2) the National Anthropological Archives, which is on the mailing list of some contractors; (3) the Smithsonian Anthropology Library, which has turned over its collection to the archives; and (4) the National Park Service archeology program in Washington, D.C., which has also placed its collection in the archives.

Included are reports on archeological work in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Canada (Alberta), Colorado, Delaware, District of Colombia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

DATES: 1970s-1990s

QUANTITY: ca. 1600 volumes

ARRANGEMENT: By state and thereunder by number assigned by NAA

FINDING AID: Most volumes are described in SIRIS. Generally, the reports are indexed by state with the subfield "archeology," or "antiquities."


Colonel Gus Artsman was an army officer who served at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, around 1865. The collection consists of copy negatives (thirty-five-millimeter strips of four images in different densities). The subjects include Dakotas and Southwest Indians.

DATE: 1865

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 78-5


Most photographs show native people and views of the Philippines. A few others show scenes and people of India, China, and Tibet. The Philippines Bureau of Science produced the Philippine photographs. Most Indian and Tibetan photographs are by T.H. Paar, of Darjeeling.

DATE: No date

QUANTITY: 105 prints

FINDING AID: List of the Philippines photographs

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 87-18


Speculation by the donor made this autochrome, formerly in the National Geographic Society's collection, a picture of Pueblo Bonito by Charles Martin.

DATE: 1920s

QUANTITY: 1 autochrome

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 86-15


The modern copy prints are portraits of a Russian anthropologist and student of Franz Boas.

DATES: 1930

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 89-46

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