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JP Harrington

J.P. Harrington (1884-1961).

Chief Juan Soleto Calac

"Chief Juan Soleto Calac [Luiseño] dressed in ceremonial costume described by Fr. Boscana as 'Tobet' (plus modern overalls)." Photograph by J.P. Harrington, 1933.

For further reading

James R. Glenn, 1991. The Sound Recordings of John P. Harrington: A Report on their Disposition and State of Preservation. Anthropological Linguistics 33/4: 357-366.

Victor Golla, 1991. John P. Harrington and His Legacy. Anthropological Linguistics 33/4: 337-349.

The Papers of John Peabody Harrington are available on microfilm from ProQuest.

Symposium on Ethnographic Archives, Communities of Origin and Intangible Cultural Heritage

A preconference symposium at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Washington (August 2) will explore issues related to managing, preserving, and providing access to ethnographic multimedia collections, focusing on the special challenges posed by materials pertaining to Native American and indigenous communities.

Archives and library professionals, community representatives, fieldworkers and other experts will discuss the practical, political, and cultural challenges involved in curating such collections and the implications of national and international protocols designed to safeguard intangible cultural property.

The symposium is sponsored by the American Folklife Center, the National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives, and the Native American Archivists Roundtable. Registration is now open.

Save America's Treasures Conservation Update

Archives staff have been conducting a systematic survey of the photograph collections with the goal of identifying candidates for conservation, photo albums in need of repair, and flammable nitrate negatives. Since the inception of the project in March 2005, conservation technician Norine Carroll and her interns and volunteers have re-housed approximately 16,000 film negatives from the NAA collections.

Carroll also recently completed an extensive inventory of the Bureau of American Ethnology's Subject and Geographic File, containing more than 8,700 glass plate negatives, film negatives and prints of archaeological sites and structures in North and South America, the West Indies, and British Guiana.


Emily Moazami

Intern Emily Moazami (George Washington University) is assessing the conservation needs of the nine 19th century photograph albums created by William Henry Jackson. Photo by Norine Carroll.

Matthew Edling

Intern Matthew Edling (George Washington University) is assisting with the conservation re-housing of the NAA's photographic collections. Photo by Norine Carroll.

Eloise Vitiello and Caroline Kenney

Volunteers Eloise Vitiello (left), Caroline Kenney (right), and Meredith Shuba have created customized sink mats for broken glass plate negatives, all of which have now been safely re-housed.

National Congress of American Indians Records Transferred to NMAI

The Records of the National Congress of American Indians, a major American Indian interest organization which aims to "protect, preserve, and develop Indian land, mineral, timber, and human resources, serve legislative interest of Indian tribes, and increase health, education and economic conditions," were transferred from the National Anthropological Archives to the National Museum of American Indian Archives in May.

The transfer of this important collection was made in acknowledgement of the distinctive collecting policies and research constituencies of the two Smithsonian archives, located within a few hundred yards of each other in Suitland, Maryland. The NCAI records include more than 460 linear feet of letters, memoranda, clippings, press releases, reports, programs, minutes, resolutions, speeches, financial reports and sound recordings and video.

"The NCAI was founded in 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies that the United States forced upon the tribal governments in contradiction of their treaty rights and status as sovereigns. NCAI stressed the need for unity and cooperation among tribal governments for the protection of their treaty and sovereign rights. Since 1944, the National Congress of American Indians has been working to inform the public and Congress on the governmental rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives." [from the NCAI website]



Frank Spencer

Frank Spencer (1941-1999). Photograph by David Gitlin, May 1997.

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Support the collection and preservation of fieldnotes, photos, sound recordings and moving images that document the world's cultures and the history of anthropology.

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To give to the archives, mail or fax this donation form, write, or call the NAA-HSFA director at 301.238.1311.


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Collaboration with Rosetta Project to Digitize Sound Recordings of California Indian Languages

The National Anthropological Archives and the Rosetta Project will make a collection of historic sound recordings of native California Indian languages available online for language revitalization and scholarly research with the assistance of a generous grant from the Christensen Fund. The sound recordings, a selection of more than 1,300 recordings produced by John Peabody Harrington and his associates between 1912 and 1941, document the languages, myths, legends, stories and songs of thirty-five Native American tribes. The grant will enable the Rosetta Project to digitize two hundred of the Harrington field recordings (originally produced on wax cylinders and aluminum disks) and create a set of online community tools to facilitate their use. The digitized sound recordings will appear on the Rosetta Project language portal and in SIRIS, the Smithsonian's online public access catalog.

The sound recordings of endangered California languages selected for digitization include Cahuilla, Chimariko, Chumash, Ohlone (Costanoan), Juaneño, Luiseño, Miwok, Salinan, Tolowa, and Tubatulabal. [Listen to an example.]

John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961) developed an interest in American Indian languages under the influence of Alfred L. Kroeber and Pliny E. Goddard at the University of California. Early in his career he conducted fieldwork among the Chumash, Yuma, and Mojave Indians. Between 1909 and 1915, he served as ethnologist at the School of American Research of the Archaeological Institute of America at Santa Fe and studied the languages of Picuris, Jemez, and Zuni pueblos. In 1915, he joined the staff of the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology. Throughout his career, Harrington pursued a strong interest in California Indian languages, especially Chimariko, Costanoan, Salinan, and Chumash. His later interest in the relationship between Navajo and Northern Athabascan languages eventually directed his field work to the Northwest Coast and Alaska, where in addition to Indian languages, he studied Aleut. Harrington also worked with languages of the Plains and of Central and South America. The high quality of Harrington's fieldnotes resulted from his ability to discern the sounds of human speech more accurately than most other 20th-century students of American Indian languages.

The Rosetta Project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible digital library of human languages. Since becoming a National Science Digital Library collection in 2004, the Rosetta Archive has more than doubled its collection size, now serving nearly 100,000 pages of material documenting over 2,500 languages — the largest resource of its kind on the Net.

Papers of Alan Harwood Donated to Archives

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the papers of Alan Harwood, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Harwood, who received the Wellcome Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for research in anthropology as applied to medical problems (1983), was also the series editor of Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology (1999-2004) and the founding editor of Medical Anthropology Quarterly (1986-91). Harwood is the author and editor of Ethnicity and Medical Care (Harvard University Press, l981); Rx:  Spiritist as Needed: A Study of a Puerto Rican Community Mental Health Resource (Wiley-Interscience, l977); and Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Social Categories among the Safwa (Oxford University Press for the International African Institute, l970). 

The collection includes Harwood's ethnographic study of the Safwa of southwestern Tanzania (1962-64), a broad view of a people being rapidly drawn into the new political structure of the nation state, with a consequent shift from the political salience of "tribal" membership to a more individualized, democratic form of political participation as citizens. Harwood's field diaries (which will be donated after his death) provide a more cross-sectional view of post-independence Tanganyikan society, with its mosaic of old colonial institutions and new African national structures, the promise and problems of young North American volunteers from the Peace Corps and Teachers for East Africa (who came to the region to staff educational and other government bureaucracies during his field stay), as well as the situation of Asians facing a new national policy of "Africanizing" their businesses. 

The Harwood papers also include his Ethnographic Study of New York City Health Areas 24 and 26 (1968-70), an applied project carried out in cooperation with a comprehensive primary-care health center located in the South Bronx. The data focus particularly on health, illness, and medical beliefs and practices. Additional information about housing, schooling, shopping, and working provides a vivid portrait of people living in a low-income area of New York City during the late-1960’s period of the "Great Society." Lastly, the Harwood Papers include interviews and other data from the Boston Health and Well-being Project (1994-95), an interdisciplinary study that focused on people’s ideas of health and well-being in four ethnic groups in the Boston area (Irish, Puerto Rican, African American, and Mandarin-speaking Chinese). The collection provides a trove of unanalyzed material on concepts of health and well-being from respondents in two income and four ethnic groups, with the consequent possibility of comparing the relative importance of socioeconomic vs. cultural forces in creating different perspectives on these matters. 

Archives Preserves Film from Controversial Yanomami Expedition

The Human Studies Film Archives has recently made available the unedited footage shot by filmmaker Timothy Asch and anthropologist Napolean Chagnon among the Yanomani of Venezuela during a research expedition sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1968. The expedition came under intense criticism following the publication of Patrick Tierney's controversial Darkness in El Dorado (W.W. Norton, 2000), which famously alleged that Chagnon and James Neel, a human geneticist, had exacerbated a measles epidemic among the Amazonian tribe through their improper use of a vaccine and subsequent refusal of medical care. Tierney's archival research relied upon field sound recordings that Asch deposited in the archives in 1984. At the time, the unprocessed moving images from the expedition were inaccessible.

(In May 2002, the AAA's El Dorado Task Force found that Tierney's book contained "numerous unfounded, misrepresented, and sensationalistic accusations" but also that Chagnon and Neel had failed to obtain informed consent and had caused "psychological suffering." In August 2005, following a vote of  the association's membership, the AAA Executive Board rescinded its acceptance of the Task Force report. Investigations conducted by other professional societies, including the American Society of Human Genetics, the International Genetic Epidemiology Society, and the National Academy of Sciences, dismissed the charges against Chagnon and Neel. The moral and intellectual climate of the investigation is discussed in Thomas Gregor and Daniel Gross's "Guilt by Association.")

Asch's original film was handled extensively during his and Chagnon's editing of Yanomamo: A Multidisciplinary Study (1968) and The Feast (1970). Challenges for the film archives staff included the reconstitution of the original camera rolls and the synchronization of the field sound and moving images; Asch had commented that his sync-sound camera system posed problems both in the field and in post-production. The film archives hopes to overcome these audio synchronizing difficulties by using an electronic time code to synch the sound and images. To this end, the archives has produced a Digi-Beta videotape transfer from a new color negative produced from the original 16mm camera rolls.  A DVD is also available for researcher use.

Archives Acquires Papers of George R. Saunders

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the papers of George R. Saunders, the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of Anthropology at Lawrence University. Saunders, whom Michael Herzfeld has called "one of the best Europeanists in the business," conducted ethnographic research on Italian Pentecostalism and related subjects. "He was also one of the few non-Italians who had taken the trouble to familiarize himself with local scholarship and to appreciate its wider implications." Saunder has written extensively on contemporary Italian cultural anthropology and on the life of Ernesto De Martino, an Italian anthropologist, folklorist and historian of religion.

The Saunders papers include more than 600 typed pages of fieldnotes from "Valbella," a village of about 2,500 people located in the Maritime Alps of northeastern Italy. The collection also includes census data relating to households and marriages, Rorschach Personality Diagnosis assessments (temporarily redacted to assure confidentiality), and a set of black-and-white photographs.

Register to the Papers of Frank Spencer

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce the availability of a Register to the Papers of Frank Spencer (1941-1999), a physical anthropologist well known for his scholarly account of the infamous Piltdown hoax, a scientific fraud that went undetected for more than 40 years. Spencer's own research on the Piltdown hoax is complemented by the Piltdown research of Ian Langham, whose work Spencer continued after his death in 1984, as well as copies of Sir Arthur Keith’s Piltdown-related papers held at the Royal College of Surgeons. (Spencer had theorized that Keith was behind the Piltdown hoax.) Other projects represented in the collection include A History of Physical Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, The Origins of Modern Humans: A World Survey of the Fossil Evidence, and Fallen Idols, Spencer’s unpublished book on the history of scientific attitudes towards human origins.  In addition, the collection contains copies of Physical Anthropology News, which Spencer co-founded and edited.

Also represented in the collection is Spencer’s dissertation research on the life and career of Aleš Hrdlička, including original correspondence between Hrdlička and his first wife, Marie Strickler, and an audio recording of Hrdlička speaking at Wistar Institute.  Other recordings include Spencer’s 1975 taped interviews with Henry Collins, Harry Shapiro, Ashley Montagu, and Lucille St. Hoyme.

HSFA at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival

The Human Studies Film Archives and the Onward Project at Ithaca College collaborated on two events for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (March 30-April 6).The first, Trafficking in the Archives: Cinemascapes, Soundscapes, and Mindscapes Beyond Corporate Control considered cinematic representations of environmental changes that result from man's quest for love and for money. The film archives' contribution to the program was The Tahitian (1956), a feature-length independent film shot in Tahiti that depicts a local medicine man's resistance to the introduction of western medicine. The program's closing night performance, Waters Flow, was an extravaganza of multiple screens, sound sources, and performers exploring the concepts of water and flows by looking at rivers around the world through a remix of HSFA archival images accompanied by an original score composed and performed by Ithaca students. In its third year, the Onward Project explores the relationship between critical historiography, archival film, music, and digital technologies. Pam Wintle, HSFA manager, was an advisory board member.

Staff News

Robert Leopold gave a poster presentation at the Conference on Endangered Languages and Cultures of North America (CELCNA '06) in Salt Lake City and participated in a workshop with Native archivists, librarians and anthropologists at the University of Northern Arizona to draft Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. He recently joined the Rosetta Project advisory panel.

Stephanie Ogeneski is the National Anthropological Archives' new digital imaging specialist. Before joining the archives, Stephanie taught photography at Simon's Rock College of Bard. Earlier she was the digital imaging manager of Chicago Albumen Works (1999-2005), a firm specializing in the preservation of historical negative collections and vintage media photographic printing processes. Stephanie holds an MFA in photography from the Henry Hope Radford School of Fine Arts at Indiana University (1997) and a Professional Certification in Photographic Preservation and Archival Practice from the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY (1998). A professional photographer by training, Stephanie lectures widely on digital imaging and 19th century photographic processes. She also serves as webmaster for the American Institute of Conservation's Photographic Materials Group. Her personal photographic work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. 


Lisa Conathan (University of California, Berkeley), a postdoctoral fellow, is editing and preparing for publication a collection of Arapaho language texts recorded by Alfred L. Kroeber between 1899 and 1901.

Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote (University of Minnesota–Twin Cities) is a visiting research fellow studying Kiowa maintenance of nationhood through expressive culture.

Kohanya Ranch (UC Riverside and Cal State University Los Angeles), a Smithsonian fellow, is writing a masters thesis on cultural revitalization that explores how Chumash descendents reclaim and revive traditions, festivals, ceremonial, art and oral narratives through knowledge attained from museums, ethnographic fieldnotes, and intergenerational knowledge.


Lara Bensenia (a recent graduate of William and Mary) is assisting William C. Sturtevant, Curator of North American Ethnology, in preparing his professional papers for the archives.

Melinda Horowitz (George Washington University) recently evaluated the preserved synchronized sound for the Pashtoon Nomad Research Film Project (1975-1976) created by anthropologist Asen Balikci and ethnographic filmmaker Timothy Asch during her recent internship at the HSFA.

Kristen Hudson (Vanderbilt University) has been selected for a 10-week Smithsonian Affiliations Internship with the HSFA. Hudson will work with HSFA staff to learn archival procedures for moving image collections in order to help the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia (Hudson’s sponsoring institution) organize its recently acquired Sinking Creek Film Festival collection for access.

Athena Jackson (University of North Texas) is assisting with the Cherokee Language Project in our digital imaging lab. Jackson is pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science.

More News ...

Publication date: July 2006

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