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Department of Anthropology

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Some prints are from negatives in Glass Negative Collection. There are also two David Barry photographs of Dakotas.

DATES: No date

QUANTITY: 15 prints

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 80-18


The image, an electrostatic copy, shows Sitting Bull's followers, each identified, at Standing Rock Reservation after their return from Canada and surrender to United States officials. The photograph was taken by Frank Jay Haynes.

The archives has a copy negative of the photograph on file (negative 45,480).

DATE: 1877

QUANTITY: 1 electrostatic copy

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 81-3

DALL, WILLIAM HEALEY (1845-1927), Papers

Naturalist William H. Dall was among the earliest scientific explorers in Alaska, who journeyed there many times between 1865 and 1899. An employee of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, and, finally, United States Geological Survey, Dall was also affiliated with the Smithsonian. The Institution sponsored his 1867-1868 field work in Alaska; and, in 1880, he became an honorary curator of Mollusks in the United States National Museum. His interests were broad and included, among other subjects, linguistics, archeology, and ethnology.

The Dall collection in the National Anthropological Archives has been called his "Alaska Library" and consists largely of printed material, including issues of periodicals, a few books, government documents, and scholarly articles. Some of this material is of anthropological interest. There are also a few manuscripts of writings, translations, and notes, including autobiographical notes by George Kennan and a speech about Ivan E.P. Veniaminov. A collection of photographs is of ethnographic, archeological, historical, and geological interest. Included are views of towns, churches, and geological phenomena; a few portraits; and scenic views. Included also are Auk, Tlingit, and Eskimo subjects. Some photographs are by Winter and Pond and by A.L. Broadbent, of the U.S.S. Bear. Many photographs are unidentified.

Material concerning Dall's linguistic and demographic work in Alaska is in the National Anthropological Archives series of numbered manuscripts. There is also Dall material that includes anthropological data in the Smithsonian Archives.

DATES: 1840-1918 (most 1870s-1890s; much undated)

QUANTITY: 1.5 linear meters (4.75 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Manuscripts, n.d.; (2) printed material, 1840-1918; (3) photographs, some 1894-1895; (4) maps and charts, some 1884-1898

FINDING AID: Folder and title list


The album includes prints and notes about the work of a Washo basket maker. The photographs were purportedly made by "Curtis," presumably Edward S. Curtis.

DATES: No date

QUANTITY: ca. 51 prints

ARRANGEMENT: Undetermined

FINDING AID: Descriptions appear in SIRIS.

CALL NUMBER: Photo Lot 10


In 1897, the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology came into being as part of a general reorganization of the United States National Museum (USNM). Its creation followed a long history of involvement in anthropology that included support for the work George E. Squier and Edwin H. Davis, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, George Gibbs, and John Wesley Powell. The National Museum collected anthropological materials from its inception; and well-defined departments of ethnology, prehistoric ceramics, and archeology had developed in the 1880s and 1890s under such specialists as Otis T. Mason, William Henry Holmes, Charles Rau, and Thomas Wilson. The department's immediate predecessor was a Division of Anthropology that included these and several other departments. The division was, however, merely a grouping of departments and lacked functional elements such as specific duties and administrative personnel.

The department in 1897 reflected a broad concept of anthropology and included divisions of ethnology, historical archeology, prehistoric archeology, technology, graphic arts, medicine, religions, and history and biography. Over the next twenty years, several divisions became independent units or joined the USNM Department of Arts and Industries. By 1920, the major anthropology divisions were ethnology, archeology, and physical anthropology (a division added in 1903), but the department remained responsible for small sections of ceramics, musical instruments, and art textiles until they moved to the new National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History) in the early 1960s.

From 1879 to 1965, anthropology at the Smithsonian was divided between the department (including its predecessors) and the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE). The primary concern of the department was the collection of anthropological specimens; the Bureau of American Ethnology was mainly concerned with research. The division of labor was not, however, complete. Artifacts and other materials collected by BAE staff were added to the collections of the Department of Anthropology. Department of Anthropology staff were also involved in research in the collections, field research (often through temporary reassignments to the BAE), and, increasingly, research on nonmaterial culture.

The distinction between the department and the BAE remained more apparent in their areas of geographic concern. While the BAE was interested primarily in aborigines of the Western Hemisphere, the department, although weighted heavily toward American Indian materials, curated collections from the entire world. The growth of the department's nonamerican collections, especially following World War II, eventually led to a staff of areal and subject specialists that included curators for Oceania, Africa, and Asia as well as North and South America.

In 1965, the BAE and the department merged into a new Smithsonian Office of Anthropology. Sol Tax became an advisor to the Smithsonian Secretary, and together they urged a programmatic approach to research. The designation "Department of Anthropology" was readopted in 1968 when the United States National Museum divided into the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of History and Technology. The scientific or curatorial staff of the new organization has placed primary emphasis on research, and much of the collections management has fallen to support staff.

Smithsonian Office of Anthropology originally had divisions of cultural anthropology and physical anthropology but, in the late 1960s, this structure gave way to greater independence of individual scientists (called curators), each of whom reported directly to the chairman. Throughout the next decade the curatorial staff also came increasingly to exercise influence over departmental affairs. More clearly structured were several support units created during the 1960s and 1970s, including an automatic data processing and inventory unit, processing laboratory, illustrations section, outreach office, conservation laboratory, and archives. In 1977, a collections manager was appointed to organize the automatic data processing and inventory unit and to take charge of the processing laboratory. Until it was placed directly under the director of the National Museum of Natural History in 1968, the department also had responsibility for the River Basin Surveys, formerly administered by the Bureau of American Ethnology. Beginning in 1986, an American Indian Program coordinated programs for American Indians and helped maintain relations with American Indian tribes.

In 1989, the department divided into six units: ethnology, physical anthropology, archeology, National Anthropological Archives, Human Studies Film Archives, and Office of the Handbook of North American Indians. The heads of these divisions formed an executive committee to advise the chairman. At the same time, the position of Deputy Chairman was created.

Since the days of the SOA, there has been a growing tendency for curators to build programs, formal or informal, around their special interests. This first appeared in the 1960s and 1970s with the Latin America-Archeology Program, Bone Biology Program, Paleoindian Program, East China Seas Program, Urgent Anthropology Program, and Ancient Technology Program. Some became defunct in the 1970s.

An Asian Cultural History Program has operated mainly with grants since 1985. In 1988, the department acquired appropriated funds for an Arctic Studies Center, which in 1994 opened a branch in Alaska. In 1992, the federal appropriation funded the globally-focused Center for Archeobiological Research Program. In addition, there is Human Origins Program. The Repatriation Program helps carry out legislation (the National Museum of American Indians Act of 1988) in regard to the research and return of certain human remains and cultural objects to Native American groups. In 1991, it came into existence under the director of the National Museum of Natural History; and, in 1994, it was placed in the department.

Head curators and chairmen have included:

  • William Henry Holmes (1897-1902, 1910-20)
  • Otis T. Mason (acting head curator, 1902-03, head curator, 1904-08)
  • Walter Hough (acting head curator, 1908-09, 1920-23, head curator, 1923-35)
  • Frank M. Setzler (1935-60)
  • T. Dale Stewart (1960-62)
  • Waldo R. Wedel (1963-65)
  • Richard B. Woodbury (1965-67)
  • Saul H. Riesenberg (1967-70)
  • Clifford Evans (1970-75)
  • William W. Fitzhugh (1975-80)
  • Douglas H. Ubelaker (1980-84)
  • Adrienne L. Kaeppler (1985-88)
  • Donald J. Ortner (1988-92)
  • Dennis J. Stanford (1992-99)
  • Carolyn Rose (1999-2002)
  • William W. Fitzhugh (2002-05)
  • J. Daniel Rogers (2005-)

The records are relatively discontinuous. Mainly they concern museum functions relating to anthropology as it is conceived today--ethnology (including linguistics), archeology, and physical anthropology. As units concerned with other studies were transferred from the department, related records were generally transferred with them. There are, however, exceptions to this as the small group of records of the section of animal products indicates. There are also incidental documents among some files that relate to period costumes, ceramics, aeronautics, musical instruments, and other such collections.

In addition to these transfers, there are suggestions of considerable culling of early files. This is true of the manuscript and pamphlet file, a large file of miscellaneous materials. These materials were apparently selected from a variety of files and arranged by subject, probably sometime after 1900. Moreover, some essentially administrative materials have been inextricably incorporated in papers of curatorial staff. The papers of Aleš Hrdlicka, for example, include materials that constitute records of the Division of Physical Anthropology. The papers of Herbert W. Krieger include early reports of the Division of Ethnology, and the papers of Frank M. Setzler have material relating to his duties as head curator of the department. Some department records have also been incorporated into the archives' series of numbered manuscripts.

In searching the department's records, in addition to such complications, it should also be borne in mind that the Smithsonian formerly had a more highly centralized administration than it now has. Thus, much correspondence was carried on through higher officials, and documents relating to certain transactions were sometimes turned over to be filed among the records of the United States National Museum, now in the Smithsonian Archives. This is especially true of, though by no means limited to, records relating to the department's collection of artifacts and other anthropological specimens.

Antiquities Permits

Between 1906 and 1981, a special Smithsonian function was the review of applications for permits to execute archeological work on federal lands. Hence, a reference file of reports and other related documents was originally maintained in a central Smithsonian records unit. Reports were, however, sometimes culled from the file and placed in the archives of the Bureau of American Ethnology. During the 1960s, the file was transferred to the Department of Anthropology. It was placed in the archives in 1973.

The file is arranged alphabetically by the names of the organizations that sponsored projects.

Division of Archeology Reference Files

Two archeological reference files are included. One dates between 1828 and 1962; the other between 1861 and 1916. Both include clippings, letters, notes, photographs, sketches, maps, brochures, announcements, and a miscellany of other material. Both are arranged geographically, generally by state. The coverage includes Arizona, California, Canada, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northwest Coast, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Peru, Pueblos, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Much material consists of reports of archeological finds by professional and amateur archeologists outside the Smithsonian. One file includes a catalog of objects evacuated from the museum during World War II and special folders for frauds, mortuary, and vandalism. Although the files seem to have been connected with William Henry Holmes during their active use, they include material received by Spencer F. Baird, Frederick W. Hodge, Otis T. Mason, Charles Rau, and Thomas Wilson.

Division of Archeology Map Collection

The map collection appears to have been maintained by Neil M. Judd and his successors. Dated approximately from the 1840s and to the 1960s, it consists mainly of printed maps and copies of historical maps collected for reference purposes. In addition, there are several plans for the quarters of the division and its exhibits; maps, often annotated with site locations, that were acquired by the museum with archeological specimens; and, inexplicably, drafts and tracings that relate to maps for Julian H. Steward's Handbook of South American Indians and a few other items reflecting the Bureau of American Ethnology activities.

Among materials of special interest are manuscript plans of a mound on the property of a M. Marchand near Marnay in the vicinity of Poitiers, France; Emil W. Krieger's sketch maps of sites in Nicaragua, 1931; maps showing the route of Edward L. Estabrook's travels in Mongolia, 1914-1916; Plan of an Ancient Fortification on Big Beaver Creek, Fayette County, Virginia, as Surveyed by Alfred Beckley, U.S.A., Plotted August 4, 1841, by Isaac Craig; G.S.B. Hempstead's Archaeological Map of Portsmouth [Ohio] Vicinity, 1887 or earlier; a map showing sites in northeastern and southeastern Iowa; a map of Ohio and Indiana annotated heavily to show archeological sites; maps of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico annotated by Neil M. Judd; charts relating to excavations by Ralph S. Solecki at Fort Neck, Cutchogue, Long Island; and a copy of a Charles C. Royce map of eastern Cherokee lands annotated and corrected by James Mooney. The collection is particularly significant because of several maps annotated to show archeological sites in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and, to a less extent, Delaware. The annotators include Neil M. Judd, William Henry Holmes, Richard G. Stearns, and William J. Graham. There are also a number of maps annotated by Stearns to show sites in Florida.

Manuscript and Pamphlet File

For those who are searching for anthropologically substantive materials, special note should be made of the manuscript and pamphlet file. It is virtually a potpourri of documents, including correspondence, notes, drawings, maps, photographs, printed and processed materials, paper specimens, reports, writings, catalogs, motion picture film (now in the Smithsonian's Human Studies Film Archives), bibliographies, and other types of documents. Of concern is a wide variety of subjects such as anthropological specimens, museology and museums, Smithsonian history, archeological and ethnological methods, exhibits, expeditions, history of anthropology, and so forth. The file seems to have been maintained in the Division of Ethnology--in one document it was referred to as Herbert W. Krieger's morgue--and the subject matter is largely ethnological. Nevertheless, some documents relate to archeology and physical anthropology. The file also contains administrative materials--records relating to the Department of Anthropology's use of Work Projects Administration workers during the 1930s, for example. In addition, the file is the main location of materials not generally accepted as being strictly anthropological in the modern sense. It includes, for example, material on period costumes, fish and fisheries, whaling, religions, armor, biblical studies, modern appliances, the seal industry, European music and musical instruments, lace, aeronautics, and other similar subjects. In addition, the file includes sets of papers of Otis T. Mason, Walter Hough, Talcott Williams, Edwin H. Hawley, and Thomas Wilson.

Some documents, both primary and secondary research materials, concern the following cultural groups and geographic areas: Arabs, Bannock, Baubi, Blackfoot, British Columbia, Caddo, Carib, Chinook, Cochiti, Comanche, Cossacks, Cuna, Delaware, Diegueño, District of Columbia, Dyak, Eskimo, Europe, Fox, Goajira, Haida, Hawaii, Hittites, Hupa, India, Innuit, Iran, Ireland, Jamomadi, Japan, Jivaro, Kabyles, Kiowa, Kirghese, Klamath, Korea, Luiseño, Madagascar, Madiera, Maidu, Makah, Maori, Mataco, Maya, Micmac, Micronesia, Mission, Modoc, Mohave, Mongolia, Moro, Morocco, Naltunnetunne, Nanticoke, Narragansett, Navaho, New Guinea, Nez Perce, Nubia, Omaha, Onandaga, Osage, Oto, Papua, Parsee, Pawnee, Peru, Philippines, Pomo, Pueblo, Puerto Rico, Pygmies, Quichua, Quinaielt, Samoa, Sauk, Seminole, Seri, Shoshoni, Spain, Tahiti, Tesuque, Thailand, Texas, Tolowa, Tonga, Tulalip, Utah, Virginia, Washo, Wichita, Wintun, Yavapai, and Zuni.

Urgent Anthropology Program

The Urgent Anthropology Program was begun in 1966 through efforts of Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley. It aimed to promote research on cultures undergoing rapid change through the compilation of lists of potential projects periodically published in Current Anthropology, cooperation with other organizations and participation in meetings, and offering grants of $1000 or less for field work. The program began in the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology but was moved to the Center for the Study of Man when it was organized in 1968. It was returned to the Department of Anthropology as the work of the Center was brought to an end in the late 1970s. Administrators who worked with the program included Priscilla C. Reining, Samuel L. Stanley, and Ives Goddard.

Included in the records are grant applications and supporting documents, reports, and administrative materials. Also included are materials submitted by grantees as part of their reports to the program. Often these include copies of publications, but there are also manuscripts of writing and other original documents. Among the latter are A. Aiyappan, "The Paniyas of Wynad, South India: A First Ethnographic Account of an Ex-slave Caste"; Brent Berlin and Terrence Kaufman, "Diccionario del Tzeltal de Tenejapa, Chiapas"; Roy Simon Bryce Laporte, "Intergenerational Relations in a `Jamaican' Village in Limon, Costa Rica"; Donald Campbell and Robert Levine, "Propositions about Ethnocentricity from Social Science Theories," 1965, and "Ethnocentricism Field Manual," 1967; David Clark "Social organization in Kibera, Nairobi," M.A. thesis, Makerere University (regarding the Nubians, or Sudanese); Charles O. Frake "The ethnographic study of cognitive systems"; Elliot M. Fratkin photographs of rites of the Samburu of Kenya; Susan Golla translation of a traditional Nootka history; Patricia Guthrie "Catching sense: the meaning of plantation membership among Blacks on St. Helena Island, South Carolina," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1977; Jeff Hart, "The Ethnobotany of the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana", 1976 and "Plant Taxonomy of the Salish and Kootenai Indians of Western Montana," M.A. thesis, University of Montana, 1974; Tadataka Igarash, "Notes on Yama-atc (`Lining-up' Method) of Takara Fishermen," with photographs, 1973, and "A short Description of Yama-atc in Akuseki-Jima, Tokara Islands, Japan," with maps; Marguerite Jellicoe, "`Praising the Sun'; A Nyaturu Oral Text and Its Place in Ritual and Cosmology," 1969; Dorothy I.D. Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, "The Bella Coola Indians"; George Laird, "Chemehuevi Texts"; Venice Lamb, "A Section of Medallions from Ewe Cloths" (drawings), 1970; D.A. Lehman's photographs of Twa village life in Zambia, 1970; Edwin Lieuwen's "The Cultural Energetics of the Bari (Motilones Bravos) of Northern Colombia," 1975; Karl Luckert, "Field Research on the Navaho Coyoteway Myth" (tape recordings), 1973; Alan Marshall, "Aboriginal Nez Perce Subsistance," 1973; George W. McDaniel, "Survey of Nineteenth Century Black Folk Houses in Southern Maryland"; W.F. Morris, Jr., "Chiapas Folk Crafts: The Economic and Cultural Values of Crafts and a Method of Developing Folk Crafts as a Local Industry"; Nityananda Patnaik, "The Recent Kings of Puri: A Study in Secularization"; Carolyn Fyfe Rauch, "An Introduction to the 1970 Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial: An Unparalleled Indigenous American Theatre," 1970; Lloyd F. and Susan Hoeber Rudolph, "New Era for India: Politics after the 1967 Election," 1967; Ivan L. Schoen, "Report on the Second Contact with the Akurio Stone Axe Tribe," with photographs, 1969; and "Notes on the Discovery of the Akuriyo Stone Axe Tribe, Suriname"; Dai-key Sohn, photographs of startified pre-ceramaic sites in Korea; William C. Sturtevant, "Studies in Ethnoscience"; J. Takeda, "An Ecological Study of Bear-hunting Activities of the `Matagi,' Japanese Traditional Hunters," with photographs and maps, 1972; Ahn Verwye's submission of photographs taken at a Tibetan Institute, Rikon, Switzerland; Wendy C. Wickwire's tape recordings of songs, stories, and other materials by Thompson and Okanagan Indians, Philip D. Yang, "The Expression of Harmony and Discord in a Guayami Ritual"; and Art Yohner, Jr., "Contact with a New Group of Akurijo Indians of Surinam", 1970.

Records of the Office of the Handbook of North American Indians

The Handbook of North American Indians, orignally a project of the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology, was transferred to the Center for the Study of Man upon its organization in the late 1960s. With the Center's winding down in the late 1970s, the Handbook was returned to the Department of Anthropology. William C. Sturtevant has been the project editor throughout. The office of the Handbook is concerned with the production of a multivolume work intended to supersede F.W. Hodge's two-volume Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30, 1907-1910. The only records of the project that have been received are a set of manuscripts used in volume 8, California, and materials from the illustrations section that is concerned with obtaining photographs and preparing charts, maps, and other such materials. Included are correspondence of authors, editors, and picture researchers; forms; copies of photographs; and other illustrations used in volume 8 on California; volumes 9 and 10, on the Southwest; and volume 15, on the Northeast. Other photographs obtained during the preparation of a volume but not used in the publication have been retained in the office of the Handbook.

List of correspondents

DATES: Most ca. 1870s-1980s (some specimens of much earlier date)

QUANTITY: ca. 41 linear meters (ca. 135 linear feet)

ARRANGEMENT: Records of the Head Curator and Chairman, including (1) annual reports, 1920-1983; (2) correspondence, 1956-1985; (3) departmental memoranda; (4) reading file, 1966-1977; (5) reading file, 1965; (6) miscellaneous administrative records; (7) correspondence of Otis T. Mason; (8) correspondence of T. Dale Stewart; (9) correspondence of Richard Woodbury; (10) correspondence of Saul H. Riesenberg; (11) chairman's correspondence, 1975-1980; (12) chairman's office files; (13) research statements, proposals, and awards, 1961-1977; (14) correspondence concerning manuscripts and publications; (15) publications; (16) correspondence of the publications committee; (17) memoranda and lists concerning condemnations, 1910-1965; (18) notebook on special exhibits, 1951-1952; (19) file concerning the Museum support Center; (20) subject file, 1828-1975 (most 1898-1975); (21) invoices; (22) fiscal records; (23) material concerning employees; (24) antiquities permits, ca. 1904-1982; (25) River Basin Surveys file, 1965-1969; (26) Urgent Anthropology program; (27) Ancient Technology program; (28) exhibit labels and miscellaneous documents, 1870s-1950s; (29) photographs of specimens and other subjects, 1880s-1950s; records of the section of animal industry; (30) miscellany, 1884-1887; records of the Division of Archeology, including (31) annual reports, 1886-1974; (32) correspondence, 1931-1956; (33) office files, 1899-1959; (34) subject file, 1935-1974; (35) archeological reference file, 1828-1962; (36) archeological reference file, 1861-1916; (37) miscellany, 1963-1974; (38) maps; records of the Division of Ethnology, including (39) annual reports, 1920-1964; (40) manuscript and pamphlet file, most 1870s-1930s; records of the Division of Cultural Anthropology, (41) correspondence; records of the Handbook of North American Indians, including (42) manuscripts (for volume 8 [California]; (43) records of the illustrations section (for volumes 8 [California], 9 and 10 [Southwest], and 15 [Northeast] only); records of the Anthropological Laboratory/Conservation and Restoration Laboratory, including (44) records, 1939-1973

FINDING AID: Draft inventory; lists for some reports in the Federal Antiquities Act permits and reports; Finding Aid to the Manuscript and Pamphlet File.

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