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Ruth Bunzel

Ruth Leah Bunzel (1898-1990). Photograph by Ralph Solecki. Photo Lot 92-35, National Anthropological Archives.


Where Will Your Fieldnotes be in 2107?

All anthropologists are welcome to deposit their professional papers in the National Anthropological Archives, the nation's only repository dedicated to the collection and preservation of ethnographic fieldnotes, photographs, sound recordings, film and video. In our state-of-the-art facility, your research materials will be available for study in 2007, in 2107, and beyond.

Not ready to donate your fieldnotes? Show your support for the archives by making a tax-deductible donation. When you sponsor a conservation project, your generosity will be acknowledged in SIRIS, our online collection catalog.


New Award for NAA's Endangered Languages Program

The National Anthropological Archives has received a $24,128 award from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee to make one of the world’s largest collections of documentation relating to endangered languages more accessible to the scholarly community and to native peoples engaged in language learning and language revitalization projects.


Plains Indian Ledger Art Now in ARTstor

ARTstor has now made available online a second contribution from the National Anthropological Archives — a collection of 2,000 Plains Indian ledger drawings produced in the middle to late decades of the 19th century. The ledger drawings represent an important indigenous artistic tradition of great interest to anthropologists, art historians and other scholars.

These drawings on paper, often done on the pages of ruled ledger books acquired through trade, continue a long tradition of painting on buffalo hides and other available media. The ledger drawings join the National Anthropological Archives' earlier contribution to ARTstor of 10,000 high-resolution images made from historic glass plate photographs of Native American portraits and ethnographic scenes.


Autobiography of a Meskwaki Woman

Smithsonian senior linguist Ives Goddard has recently published The Autobiography of a Meskwaki Woman: A New Edition and Translation, part of the large collection of Meskwaki Native writings in the National Anthropological Archives. The text gives a woman’s perspective on traditional life on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County, Iowa, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An anonymous woman wrote the autobiography in 1918 for Smithsonian ethnologist Truman Michelson in Meskwaki (Fox), a Native American language of the Algonquian family. This new edition, based on years of extensive research and field studies, has a phonemic transcription of the original Meskwaki text, a new translation, and an interlinear linguistic analysis of every word. It includes passages omitted from the original 1925 edition and translation, textual notes, and a separate breakdown of all inflections.


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Records Concerning American Indian Law and Political Rights Transferred to NMAI

Four significant American Indian collections were transferred from the National Anthropological Archives to the Archives of the National Museum of the American Indian in March: the Papers of Helen Peterson (former president of the National Congress of American Indians); the Papers of James E. Curry (an NCAI attorney); the records of the National Tribal Chairmen's Association; and the records of ARROW, Inc. and the American Indian Tribal Court Judges Association.

The transfer of these important 20th century collections was made in acknowledgement of the distinctive collecting policies and research constituencies of the two Smithsonian archives, located next door to each other in Suitland, MD. Last year, the NAA transferred the records of the National Congress of American Indians to the NMAI Archives.

Ruth Bunzel Papers Donated to the National Anthropological Archives

The professional papers of Ruth Leah Bunzel (1898-1990), an authority on the Zuni Indians who taught anthropology at Columbia University, were donated to the National Anthropological Archives after their recent discovery by Columbia University. Bunzel, a student of Franz Boas, began fieldwork among the Zuni in 1924 and conducted fieldwork in Guatemala on Quiche ritual and religion between 1930 and 1932. In the late 1940s, she supervised research among Chinese immigrants in New York City for the Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures Project (a project co-directed by Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead).

Bunzel was the author of The Pueblo Potter: A Study of Creative Imagination in Primitive Art (1929); Zuni Katcinas: An Analytical Study (1932); Introduction to Zuñi Ceremonialism (1932); Zuñi Origin Myths (1932); Zuñi Ritual Poetry (1932); Zuni Texts (1933); Chichicastenango: A Guatemalan Village (1952); and The Golden Age of American Anthropology (edited with Margaret Mead, 1960).

The Bunzel collection includes professional correspondence; anthropological fieldnotes from research in Chinatown, New York; Columbia University lecture notes; personal reading notes; sound recordings; and several hundred term papers written by Bunzel's graduate students (many of whom became quite eminent themselves).  Of special interest are 133 colored drawings of Hopi and Zuni Katsina (spirit beings). Bunzel's Zuni fieldnotes have never been found. Nancy Parezo, Don Fowler and Sydel Silverman have written that "Ruth Bunzel threw out all her fieldnotes from Zuni Pueblo after she had published her books, thinking that they no longer had any use."

The Register to the Papers of Ruth Leah Bunzel was written by archivist Lorain Wang with the support of a Wenner-Gren Foundation Historical Archives Program grant awarded to Nan Rothschild of Barnard College.

Carol Kramer Papers Donated to the National Anthropological Archives

The papers of Carol Kramer (1943-2002), a leading figure in ethnoarchaeology and a major advocate for women's professional development in archaeology and anthropology, have been donated to the National Anthropological Archives. "Carol Kramer was a first-rate researcher, a real pioneer in ethnoarchaeology," says Mindy Zeder." Her dissertation took one of the first truly anthropological looks at the movement of pottery styles in the Middle East. Her later work on ethnoarchaeology vis-à-vis ceramics is classic." Kramer received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 after completing a dissertation on the Iron Age of Dinka Tepe in Iran. She taught at the City University of New York, first at Queens College and then at Lehman College and the Graduate Center (1974-90), and was also a visiting professor (1986-87) and then professor at the University of Arizona (1990-2002).

An expert on ceramic production, Kramer conducted fieldwork in Iran and India. She is the author of Ethnoarchaeology: Implications of Ethnography for Archaeology (Columbia University Press, 1979); Village Ethnoarchaeology: Rural Iran in Archaeological Perspective (Academic Press, 1982); "Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology" (Annual Review of Anthropology, 1985); Pottery in Rajasthan: Ethnoarchaeology in Two Indian Cities (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997); and Ethnoarchaeology in Action (with Nicholas David; Cambridge University Press, 2001).

According to Nan Rothschild,

Kramer defined ethnoarchaeology as archaeologically oriented ethnographic research designed to improve the understanding of relationships between patterned human behavior and elements of material culture. The ethnographic research that ethnoarchaeologists carry out differs from that conducted by social-cultural anthropologists in that it aims to understand the way observable behavior might be reflected in material remains accessible to archaeologists. Such research should be, in Kramer’s view, problem oriented and designed to be integrated with archaeological data. She was not satisfied with the “cautionary tales” produced by many ethnoarchaeological studies, as she believed that these did not yield advances in archaeological interpretation but simply demonstrated how often interpretations of material culture could be flawed. Rather, she insisted on the generation of testable hypotheses with regard to spatial analysis, socioeconomic aspects of culture, and the detection of activity areas and patterns. [Read more...]

In 1999, Kramer received the Squeaky Wheel Award from the AAA's Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology for her "clear but quiet voice in issues regarding gender equity within anthropology for more than 20 years." The award recognizes "individuals who have demonstrated the courage to bring to light and investigate practices in anthropology that are potentially discriminatory to women or have acted to improve the status of women in anthropology through activities that raise awareness of women's contribution to anthropology or identify barriers to full participation by women in anthropology." In bestowing the award, the committee cited Kramer and Miriam Stark's 1986-87 survey of gender equity within archaeology, The Status of Women in Archaeology (1988).

Kramer gave the 1994 Distinguished Lecture to the AAA's Archaeology Section — “The Quick and the Dead: Ethnography in and for Archaeology” — and received the Society for American Archaeology's Award for Excellence in Archaeological Analysis, bestowed posthumously in 2003.

The Kramer papers include field notes, journals, architectural drawing and plans, botanical specimens, correspondence, slides, black and white negatives and prints, manuscripts of papers published or read, and grant applications. They reflect her ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork and scholarly research and writing as well as her teaching career in New York City and Tucson, her membership in professional organizations, and service on professional committees.

The Kramer papers are being processed with the assistance of a Wenner-Gren Foundation Historical Archives Program grant awarded to Lee Horne of the University of Pennsylvania.

Jon Breslar Papers Donated to the National Anthropological Archives

The National Anthropological Archives is pleased to announce its acquisition of the papers of Jon Breslar (1949-2005), a sociocultural and applied anthropologist who conducted research on the Mahorais (Mayotte, Comoro Islands). Breslar studied anthropology at Franklin and Marshall (B.A. 1971) and the University of Pittsburgh (Ph.D. 1981). He is the author of the three-volume L’Habitat Mahorais: Une Perspective Ethnologique (Paris: A.G.G.: 1978-1982).

Before he completed his dissertation, Breslar was invited to develop a housing policy for Mayotte that led to the construction of durable low-cost housing. He soon joined the U.S. Agency for International Development, for which he worked in Nepal (1985-89), Mali (1989-93) and Lebanon (Mission Director, 2000-02). "In his last assignment," writes his colleague Michael Lambek in Anthropology News, "Jon had authority over the allocation of USAID’s $14 billion budget. Jon rose quickly through the foreign service ranks to Minister Counselor, the second highest rank in the service. He received both a Presidential Rank Award and the Administrator’s Award for Distinguished Career Service, the highest award given by the agency."

The Breslar Papers include fieldnotes, professional correspondence, photographs and slides, moving images, sound recordings of interviews conducted in the Shimaorhais dialect of Swahili, and specimens of plants used for herbal medicine.

The Breslar papers will be processed this year with the assistance of a Wenner-Gren Foundation Historical Archives Program grant awarded to Bonnie Breslar.

Human Studies Film Archives Turns 25

The HSFA turned 25 years old in October. As former director Jake Homiak recalls in his History of the Human Studies Film Archives, the archives began as the National Anthropological Film Center (1975-1981) through the coordinated efforts of a small but passionately committed group of anthropologists and filmmakers that included Margaret Mead, Sol Worth, Walter Goldschmidt, John Adair, Timothy Asch, Jay Ruby, Karl Heider, and John Marshall. After a promising six-year start, which launched a vigorous acquisitions and preservation program, as well as the production of over over a half-million feet of anthropological research film, the Center was incorporated into the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology and renamed the Human Studies Film Archives in 1981.

The HSFA soon became the repository for film projects that are arguably among the crown jewels of visual anthropology, including:

  • The entire corpus of John Marshall's !Kung (San) films
  • Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon's Yanomamo film project
  • David and Judith MacDougall's Turkana Trilogy
  • Portions of the AUFS Faces of Changes Series.

In addition to these landmarks in ethnographic filmmaking, the Archives also contains notable historical collections such as:

  • Joseph Dixon's footage of the Crow Indians (Montana, 1908)
  • Franz Boas' footage of the Kwakuitl (Fort Ruppert, British Columbia, 1929)
  • Paul Wirz' footage of Lake Sentani Papuans (West Irian, Dutch New Guinea, c. 1920)
  • Matthew Stirling's By Aeroplane to Pygmyland (West Irian, 1927)
  • Melville J. Herskovits' footage shot in Dahomey, the Gold Coast and Haiti (1931 and 1934)
  • Robert Zingg's footage of the Huichol and Tarahumara (northern Mexico, 1933)
  • Scudder Mekeel's footage of the Lakota Sioux (Rosebud Reservation, 1930)
  • Morton Kahn's film of the Djuka Maroons of Dutch Guyana (Suriname, 1928)
  • Silvino Santos' Explorations in the Amazons Basin (1924).

The HSFA has also collected and preserved portions of such seminal film series as the Pathe Science Series, Kodak Cinegraphs, and the works of travelogue and exploration filmmakers such as Burton Holmes, Aloha Baker, Lewis Cotlow, and Thayer Soule.

Film Archives Acquires Carleton College Collection of Educational Documentary Films

The Human Studies Film Archives has acquired a collection of 145 films that were used to teach university students about Asian religions. The Carleton College collection also includes a series on Chinese history and films that document religion in America, mainly produced between 1940 and 1970. Kristen Hudson, a Smithsonian Affiliate intern, spent the summer of 2006 in the film archives documenting the copyright and production information in the collection. The titles include:

  • Angkor: the Lost City
  • Buddhism in China
  • Chinese Ceramics
  • Four Holy Men: Renunciation in Hindu Society
  • The Hindu Ritual Sandhya
  • Horuji Temple
  • Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Way
  • Introduction to Confucius
  • Local Noh Drama and Village Life
  • Manifestations of Shiva
  • Musical Tradition in Banares
  • Omoto-kyo: Art and Spirit
  • Prehistoric Images: The First Art of Man
  • Samskara
  • Tantra of Gyuto: Sacred Rituals of Tibet
  • Thai Images of the Buddha
  • Torches of the Todaiji
  • World of the Heike Monogatari
  • Yakushiji Temple.

Hannah Marie Wormington Finding Aid Available

The National Anthropological Archives has completed a revised finding aid for the Papers of Hannah Marie Wormington, an American archaeologist known for her research on Paleo-Indians in the Southwest, including the Fremont of Utah and the Uncompahgre of Colorado. Wormington was the author of the classic works Ancient Man in North America (1939) and Prehistoric Indians of the Southwest (1947).

Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1914, Wormington studied archaeology with E.B. Renaud and earned a B.A. from the University of Denver in 1935. After graduation she traveled to France where she worked under Henri Martin at a Paleolithic excavation in the Dordogne. She retained an interest in French archaeology. Returning to Denver from her studies abroad, she was hired by the Denver Museum of Natural History as a staff archaeologist. In 1937, she became curator of archaeology, establishing the museum as an important center for Paleo-Indian research. She remained there until 1968. She received her doctorate in 1954, becoming the first Radcliffe female Ph.D. to specialize in archaeology. 

While at the Denver Museum of Natural History, Wormington catalogued the Lindenmeier material in the collection (1936) and excavated the Johnson Site (a Folsom camp) near La Porte, Colorado. Beginning in 1937, she excavated a series of rock shelters in Montrose County, Colorado; Grand County, Utah; and Mesa County, Colorado. She surveyed prehistoric migration routes of ancient hunters in the Province of Alberta, Canada, in 1955 and 1956. In the 1960s, she worked at the Frazier Agate Basin site and with Joe Ben Wheat at the Jurgens Cody site in Weld County, Colorado. She also served as a consultant on an excavation of mammoth and associated material in the Valley of Mexico (1952) and of a human skeleton near Turin, Iowa (1955); excavations at Onion Portage, Alaska (1963); the Scottsbluff butchering site near Chadron, Nebraska (1971); and Hot Springs Mammoth Site, South Dakota (1977). Wormington also served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Arizona State University, Colorado College, the University of Colorado, and the University of Wyoming.

In 1967, Wormington became the first women president of the Society for American Archaeology. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970, the Colorado's State Archaeologist's Award in 1977, an Honorary Doctorate from Colorado State University in 1977, and the Society of American Archaeology's Distinguished Service Award in 1983.    

Wormington’s papers consist of correspondence, fieldnotes and associated materials, lecture notes, manuscripts, photographs, teaching materials, and writings by her students and colleagues. The papers reflect many aspects of Wormington's professional life, including her archaeological work, professional development and teaching career, although her papers include relatively little about her curatorial work at the Denver Museum of Natural History.

Staff News

We bid farewell to Norine Carroll, who served as conservation technician on our Bureau of American Ethnology Photo Conservation project with the support of the Save America's Treasures program. Since 2005, Norine and her interns and volunteers have examined and rehoused tens of thousands of photographic prints and negatives; tested film materials for the presence of nitrate; created archival enclosures for glass negatives; separated photographic collections by media; prepared color slides and negatives for cold storage; and produced numerous finding aids and inventories.

Archives director Robert Leopold presented a paper on "Ethnographic Archives and the Ethics of Public Access" at the Symposium on Ethnographic Archives, Communities of Origin and Intangible Cultural Heritage in August and attended the Binational Meeting on Endangered Languages in Mexico City in September. In October, he discussed five of the archives' recent digital collaborations at Spotlight on Smithsonian Digitization. In January, he gave a talk called "The Second Life of Ethnographic Fieldnotes" at a workshop on anthropological archives hosted by the Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de sociologie comparative, Maison de l'Archéologie et de l'Ethnologie, University of Paris X–Nanterre. Leopold was recently invited to join the editorial board of Cultural Anthropology and the newly created Federal Digitization Standards Working Group.

Catherine Marie O'Sullivan has joined the staff of the National Anthropological Archives as a reference archivist. Earlier she served as assistant archivist for the American Civil Liberties Union. Catherine holds a Cultural Anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Asheville; an M.Phil and M.Litt in History from Trinity College, Dublin; and a certificate in Archival Management and Historical Editing from New York University. She is the author of "Diaries, Online Diaries and the Future Loss to Archives: Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them," American Archivist (Spring/Summer 2005) and Hospitality in Medieval Ireland, 900-1500 (Four Courts Press, 2004). In 2004 she received the Society of American Archivists' Theodore Calvin Pease Award, which recognizes the superior writing achievements by students of archival administration.

Lorain Wang has joined the staff of the National Anthropological Archives as a processing archivist. Wang holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology (2002) and a Masters of Library and Information Studies with a concentration in Archival Studies (2004) from UCLA. Before permanently joining our staff, Wang worked in the NAA as a contract project archivist.

Senior film archivist Pamela Wintle is featured in the Ithaca College Quarterly (June 2006). Wintle also wrote a reminiscence for the Moving Image Review (Summer 2006), a semiannual publication of Northeast Historic Film, which turned 20 this year; Wintle is a founding board member. In October, Wintle participated in a curriculum evaluation meeting for the Moving Image and Archives Preservation Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. The purpose of the meeting, supported with grants from NEH and the Getty foundation, was for knowledgeable leaders in the field to analyze and help improve the curriculum for training future moving image archivists.


Melanie Blanchard (Museum Studies Program, George Washington University) rehoused and inventoried a range of photographic material for the NAA's Save America's Treasures Photographic Preservation Project.

Stephanie Christmas (James Madison University) has been digitizing historical manuscripts relating to the Coushatta language and assisting researchers in our reading room.

Aivia Monitto (Portland State University) is processing the papers of anthropologist Ethel Albert and updating legacy finding aids for online publication.

Beth Shuster is preparing the records of the Institut fur Deutsch Ostarbeit for digitization and microfilming with support from the Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland).

Stacey Thompson (George Washington University) assisted with our endangered languages documentation project in our digital imaging lab and contributed more than 5,000 new images to SIRIS, our online catalog.

More News ...

Publication date: April 2007

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