These papers reflect the professional and personal life of Frederica de Laguna. The collection contains correspondence, field notes, writings, newspaper clippings, writings by others, subject files, sound recordings, photographs, and maps. A significant portion of the collection consists of de Laguna's correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and students, as well as her informants from the field. Her correspondence covers a wide range of subjects such as family, health, preparations for field work, her publications and projects, the Northwest Coast, her opinions on the state of anthropology, and politics. The field notes in the collection mainly represent de Laguna and her assistants' work in the Northern Tlingit region of Alaska from 1949 to 1954. In addition, the collection contains materials related to her work in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario in 1947 and Catherine McClellan's field journal for her research in Aishihik, Yukon Territory in 1968. Most of the audio reels in the collection are field recordings made by de Laguna, McClellan, and Marie-Françoise Guédon of vocabulary and songs and speeches at potlatches and other ceremonies from 1952 to 1969. Tlingit and several Athabaskan languages including Atna, Tutochone, Upper Tanana, and Tanacross are represented in the recordings. Also in the collection are copies of John R. Swanton's Tlingit recordings and Hiroko Hara Sue's recordings among the Hare Indians. Additional materials related to de Laguna's research on the Northwest Coast include her notes on clans and tribes in Series VI: Subject Files and her notes on Tlingit vocabulary and Yakutat names specimens in Series X: Card Files. Drafts and notes for Voyage to Greenland, Travels Among the Dena, and The Tlingit Indians can be found in the collection as well as her drawings for her dissertation and materials related to her work for the Handbook of North American Indians and other publications. There is little material related to Under Mount Saint Elias except for correspondence, photocopies and negatives of plates, and grant applications for the monograph. Of special interest among de Laguna's writings is a photocopy of her historical fiction novel, The Thousand March. Other materials of special interest are copies of her talks, including her AAA presidential address, and the dissertation of Regna Darnell, a former student of de Laguna's. In addition, materials on the history of anthropology are in the collection, most of which can found with her teaching materials. Although the bulk of the collection documents de Laguna's professional years, the collection also contains newspaper articles and letters regarding her exceptional performance as a student at Bryn Mawr College and her undergraduate and graduate report cards. Only a few photographs of de Laguna can be found in the collection along with photographs of her 1929 and 1979 trips to Greenland.
Scope and Contents:
These papers reflect the professional and personal life of Frederica de Laguna. The collection contains correspondence, field notes, writings, newspaper clippings, writings by others, subject files, sound recordings, photographs, and maps.
A significant portion of the collection consists of de Laguna's correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and students, as well as her informants from the field. Her correspondence covers a wide range of subjects such as family, health, preparations for field work, her publications and projects, the Northwest Coast, her opinions on the state of anthropology, and politics. Among her notable correspondents are Kaj Birket-Smith, J. Desmond Clark, Henry Collins, George Foster, Viola Garfield, Marie-Françoise Guédon, Diamond Jenness, Michael Krauss, Therkel Mathiassen, Catharine McClellan, and Wallace Olson. She also corresponded with several eminent anthropologists including Franz Boas, William Fitzhugh, J. Louis Giddings, Emil Haury, June Helm, Melville Herskovitz, Alfred Kroeber, Helge Larsen, Alan Lomax, Margaret Mead, Froelich Rainey, Leslie Spier, Ruth Underhill, James VanStone, Annette Weiner, and Leslie White.
The field notes in the collection mainly represent de Laguna and her assistants' work in the Northern Tlingit region of Alaska from 1949 to 1954. In addition, the collection contains materials related to her work in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Ontario in 1947 and Catharine McClellan's field journal for her research in Aishihik, Yukon Territory in 1968. Most of the audio reels in the collection are field recordings made by de Laguna, McClellan, and Marie-Françoise Guédon of vocabulary and songs and speeches at potlatches and other ceremonies from 1952 to 1969. Tlingit and several Athapaskan languages including Atna, Tutochone, Upper Tanana, and Tanacross are represented in the recordings. Also in the collection are copies of John R. Swanton's Tlingit recordings and Hiroko Hara's recordings among the Hare Indians. Additional materials related to de Laguna's research on the Northwest Coast include her notes on clans and tribes in Series VI: Subject Files and her notes on Tlingit vocabulary and Yakutat names specimens in Series 10: Card Files.
Drafts and notes for Voyage to Greenland, Travels Among the Dena, and The Tlingit Indians can be found in the collection as well as her drawings for her dissertation and materials related to her work for the Handbook of North American Indians and other publications. There is little material related to Under Mount Saint Elias except for correspondence, photocopies and negatives of plates, and grant applications for the monograph. Of special interest among de Laguna's writings is a photocopy of her historical fiction novel, The Thousand March.
Other materials of special interest are copies of her talks, including her AAA presidential address, and the dissertation of Regna Darnell, a former student of de Laguna's. In addition, materials on the history of anthropology are in the collection, most of which can found with her teaching materials. The collection also contains copies of photographs from the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899. Although the bulk of the collection documents de Laguna's professional years, the collection also contains newspaper articles and letters regarding her exceptional performance as a student at Bryn Mawr College and her undergraduate and graduate report cards. Only a few photographs of de Laguna can be found in the collection along with photographs of her 1929 and 1979 trips to Greenland.
Frederica Annis Lopez de Leo de Laguna was a pioneering archaeologist and ethnographer of northwestern North America. Known as Freddy by her friends, she was one of the last students of Franz Boas. She served as first vice-president of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) from 1949 to 1950 and as president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) from 1966-1967. She also founded the anthropology department at Bryn Mawr College where she taught from 1938 to 1972. In 1975, she and Margaret Mead, a former classmate, were the first women to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Born on October 3, 1906 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, de Laguna was the daughter of Theodore Lopez de Leo de Laguna and Grace Mead Andrus, both philosophy professors at Bryn Mawr College. Often sick as a child, de Laguna was home-schooled by her parents until she was 9. She excelled as a student at Bryn Mawr College, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in politics and economics in 1927. She was awarded the college's prestigious European fellowship, which upon the suggestion of her parents, she deferred for a year to study anthropology at Columbia University under Boas. Her parents had recently attended a lecture given by Boas and felt that anthropology would unite her interests in the social sciences and her love for the outdoors.
After a year studying at Columbia with Boas, Gladys Reichard, and Ruth Benedict, de Laguna was still uncertain whether anthropology was the field for her. Nevertheless, she followed Boas's advice to spend her year abroad studying the connection between Eskimo and Paleolithic art, which would later became the topic of her dissertation. In the summer of 1928, she gained fieldwork experience under George Grant MacCurdy visiting prehistoric sites in England, France, and Spain. In Paris, she attended lectures on prehistoric art by Abbe Breuil and received guidance from Paul Rivet and Marcelin Boule. Engaged to an Englishman she had met at Columbia University, de Laguna decided to also enroll at the London School of Economics in case she needed to earn her degree there. She took a seminar with Bronislaw Malinowski, an experience she found unpleasant and disappointing.
It was de Laguna's visit to the National Museum in Copenhagen to examine the archaeological collections from Central Eskimo that became the turning point in her life. During her visit, she met Therkel Mathiassen who invited her to be his assistant on what would be the first scientific archaeological excavation in Greenland. She sailed off with him in June 1929, intending to return early in August. Instead, she decided to stay until October to finish the excavation with Mathiassen, now convinced that her future lay in anthropology. When she returned from Greenland she broke off her engagement with her fiancé, deciding that she would not able to both fully pursue a career in anthropology and be the sort of wife she felt he deserved. Her experiences in Greenland became the subject of her 1977 memoir, Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology.
The following year, Kaj Birket-Smith, whom de Laguna had also met in Copenhagen, agreed to let her accompany him as his research assistant on his summer expedition to Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. When Birket-Smith fell ill and was unable to go, de Laguna was determined to continue on with the trip. She convinced the University of Pennsylvania Museum to fund her trip to Alaska to survey potential excavation sites and took as her assistant her 20 year old brother, Wallace, who became a geologist. A close family, de Laguna's brother and mother would later accompany her on other research trips.
In 1931, the University of Pennsylvania Museum hired de Laguna to catalogue Eskimo collections. They again financed her work in Cook Inlet that year as well as the following year. In 1933, she earned her PhD from Columbia and led an archaeological and ethnological expedition of the Prince William Sound with Birket-Smith. They coauthored "The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska," published in 1938. In 1935, de Laguna led an archaeological and geological reconnaissance of middle and lower Yukon Valley, traveling down the Tanana River. Several decades later, the 1935 trip contributed to two of her books: Travels Among the Dena, published in 1994, and Tales From the Dena, published in 1997.
In 1935 and 1936, de Laguna worked briefly as an Associate Soil Conservationist, surveying economic and social conditions on the Pima Indian Reservation in Arizona. She later returned to Arizona during the summers to conduct research and in 1941, led a summer archaeological field school under the sponsorship of Bryn Mawr College and the Museum of Northern Arizona.
By this time, de Laguna had already published several academic articles and was also the author of three fiction books. Published in 1930, The Thousand March: Adventures of an American Boy with the Garibaldi was her historical fiction book for juveniles. She also wrote two detective novels: The Arrow Points to Murder (1937) and Fog on the Mountain (1938). The Arrow Points to Murder is set in a museum based on her experiences at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the American Museum of National History. Fog on the Mountain is set in Cook Inlet and draws upon de Laguna's experiences in Alaska. Both detective novels helped to finance her research.
De Laguna began her long career at Bryn Mawr College in 1938 when she was hired as a lecturer in the sociology department to teach the first ever anthropology course at the college. By 1950, she was chairman of the joint department of Sociology and Anthropology, and in 1967, the chairman of the newly independent Anthropology Department. She was also a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania (1947-1949; 1972-1976) and at the University of California, Berkeley (1959-1960; 1972-1973.)
During World War II, de Laguna took a leave of absence from Bryn Mawr College to serve in the naval reserve from 1942 to 1945. As a member of WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), she taught naval history and codes and ciphers to women midshipmen at Smith College. She took great pride in her naval service and in her later years joined the local chapter of WAVES National, an organization for former and current members of WAVES.
In 1950, de Laguna returned to Alaska to work in the Northern Tlingit region. Her ethnological and archaeological study of the Tlingit Indians brought her back several more times throughout the 1950s and led to the publication of Under Mount Saint Elias in 1972. Her comprehensive three-volume monograph is still considered the authoritative work on the Yakutat Tlingit. In 1954, de Laguna turned her focus to the Atna Indians of Copper River, returning to the area in 1958, 1960, and 1968.
De Laguna retired from Bryn Mawr College in 1972 under the college's mandatory retirement policy. Although she suffered from many ailments in her later years including macular degeneration, she remained professionally active. Five decades after her first visit to Greenland, de Laguna returned to Upernavik in 1979 to conduct ethnographic investigations. In 1985, she finished editing George Thornton Emmons' unpublished manuscript The Tlingit Indians. A project she had begun in 1955, the book was finally published in 1991. In 1986, she served as a volunteer consultant archaeologist and ethnologist for the U. S. Forest Service in Alaska. In 1994, she took part in "More than Words . . ." Laura Bliss Spann's documentary on the last Eyak speaker, Maggie Smith Jones. By 2001, de Laguna was legally blind. Nevertheless, she continued working on several projects and established the Frederica de Laguna Northern Books Press to reprint out-of-print literature and publish new scholarly works on Arctic cultures.
Over her lifetime, de Laguna received several honors including her election into the National Academy Sciences in 1976, the Distinguished Service Award from AAA in 1986, and the Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. De Laguna's work, however, was respected by not only her colleagues but also by the people she studied. In 1996, the people of Yakutat honored de Laguna with a potlatch. Her return to Yakutat was filmed by Laura Bliss Spann in her documentary Reunion at Mt St. Elias: The Return of Frederica de Laguna to Yakutat.
At the age of 98, Frederica de Laguna passed away on October 6, 2004.
Darnell, Regna. "Frederica de Laguna (1906-2004)." American Anthropologist 107.3 (2005): 554-556.
de Laguna, Frederica. Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology. New York: W.W. Norton Co, 1977.
McClellan, Catharine. "Frederica de Laguna and the Pleasures of Anthropology." American Ethnologist 16.4 (1989): 766-785.
Olson, Wallace M. "Obituary: Frederica de Laguna (1906-2004)." Arctic 58.1 (2005): 89-90.
Although this collection contains a great deal of correspondence associated with her service as president of AAA, most of her presidential records can be found in American Anthropological Association Records 1917-1972. Also at the National Anthropological Archives are her transcripts of songs sung by Yakutat Tlingit recorded in 1952 and 1954 located in MS 7056 and her notes and drawings of Dorset culture materials in the National Museum of Canada located in MS 7265. The Human Studies Film Archive has a video oral history of de Laguna conducted by Norman Markel (SC-89.10.4).
Related collections can also be found in other repositories. The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania holds materials related to work that de Laguna carried out for the museum from the 1930s to the 1960s. Materials relating to her fieldwork in Angoon and Yakutat can be found in the Rasmuson Library of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the papers of Francis A. Riddell, a field assistant to de Laguna in the early 1950s. Original photographs taken in the field in Alaska were deposited in the Alaska State Library, Juneau. Both the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress and the American Philosophical Library have copies of her field recordings and notes. The American Museum of Natural History has materials related to her work editing George T. Emmons' manuscript. De Laguna's papers can also be found at the Bryn Mawr College Archives.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Frederica de Laguna.
Some of the original field notes are restricted due to Frederica de Laguna's request to protect the privacy of those accused of witchcraft. The originals are restricted until 2030. Photocopies may be made with the names of the accused redacted.
8 Prints (halftone (including one newspaper clipping))
124 Prints (circa, silver gelatin, albumen, and platinum)
50 copy prints (circa)
3 copper printing plates
1 color print
1 Print (wood engraving)
3 copy negatives (glass)
Scope and Contents note:
This collection is an artificial collection of photographs, copper plates, and a few notes, all of which depict or relate to anthropologists, many of which were associated with the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Included are portraits of Franz Boas, Q. M. Bond, Arno B. Cammerer, Frank Hamilton Cushing, Edwin Hamilton Davis, J. Woodbridge Davis, Frances Densmore, James Owen Dorsey, Philip Drucker, Jesse Walter Fewkes (including photographs of his home by Frances Densmore), Albert Samuel Gatschet, James A. Geary, De Lancey W. Gill, George Brown Goode, Horatio Hale, Henry Wetherbee Henshaw, John Napoleon Brinton Hewitt, John K. Hillers, William Henry Holmes, William Henry Jackson, Eugene Irving Knez, Alfred Louis Kroeber, Pere Albert Lacomb, Augustus Le Plongeon, James Mooney, Lewis Henry Morgan, Carl Oschsicanes, James Constantine Pilling, John Wesley Powell, Frau Signe Rink, Frank Harold Hanna Roberts, Jr., Charles C. Royce, Robert Lloyd Stephenson, James Stevenson, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, Julian Haynes Steward, Steward Struever, James Gilchrist Swan, John Reed Swanton, Edwin P. Upham, Wilcomb E. Washburn, and Gordon Randolph Willey. Groups depicted include the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1936; the De Soto Commission; officers of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1885; a 1920 expedition group 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.
Among photographers represented are Vernon Orlando Bailey, Blackston Studios of New York, Dana of New York, Frances Densmore, Gene Garrett, C. W. Gilbert, De Lancey W. Gill, John K. Hillers, William H. Jackson, Kets Kemethy, Paul Koby, David McDonough, H. C. Phillips, Rice of Washington, D. C., and J. A. Shuck of El Reno, Oklahoma.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 33
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Four photographs with negatives by Matilda Coxe Stevenson have been relocated to Photo Lot 23.
This collection includes photographs that have been removed from other collections in the National Anthropological Archives, including MS 4970, MS 4851, MS 4780, MS 4250, MS 4751, MS 4516, MS 4860, MS 4695, MS 4970, MS 4558, and Photo Lot 33.
See others in:
Portraits of anthropologists, 1860s-1960s
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Copy prints of photographs held by the American Philosophical Society, National Geographic Society, and National Archives cannot be copied. Copies may be obtained from these repositories.
Photo lot 33, Portraits of anthropologists, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Folder 1: Powell to Whitney, July 17, 1877 (Copy) Whiteney to Powell, July 25, 1877 (Draft) Powell to Whitney, July 31, 1877 (Draft) List of vowel and consonant symbols, with definitions, from Whitney (so identified in George Gibb's hand--MCB); undated copy of draft of Whitneyʹs manuscript which is also in the Yale manuscripts. It was subsequently published, slightly revised and attributed to Whitney as "On the alphabet," page 306 of Powellʹs Introduction . . ., 1877. 11 pages.
Folder 2: Photographic copies of all Powell-Whitney correspondence in Yale University Library, secured by W. C. Sturtevant after visit of November 4, 1960 (Stirling Memorial Library, Yale University, Historical Manuscripts Collections, W. D. Whitney (1827-1894) collection): Powell to Whitney, July 17, 1877, 15 pages. Enclosure in above : untitled manuscript by W. D. W., describing alphabet for Indian languages. 22 pages. Powell to Whitney, July 31, 1877, 6 pages letter and 6 pages tables of symbols. Powell to Whitney, August 27, 1877, 2 pages (transmitting 2 copies of printed alphabet, not present).
Folder 3: 3 drafts of Powellʹs alphabet with introduction, undated. "Suggestions from I. (?) Porter", May 12, (no year) re Whitneyʹs orthographic proposals. 2 pages. O. T. Masonʹs note on Powellʹs and Whitneyʹs orthography, 2 pages. 2 unsigned copies of letter to William Dwight Whitney, May 7th, 1877, labelled "O. T. Mason," on US Geographic & Geologic Survey Rocky Mountains letterhead paper--written in phonetic orthography, one (marked "q") in Whitneyʹs orthography, and the other (marked "r" in Masonʹs modification, 2 pages each.
Folder 4: Several sheets on orthography, unsigned, undated, marked "Gibbs," "Pilling," "Gatschet," etc. and apparently received from them. The manuscript copy in Gibbsʹ hand marked "Pickeringʹs alphabet" is summarized from pages 35-36 of "An essay on a uniform orthography for the Indian languages of North America," by John Pickering, Cambridge, University Press, 1820 (reprint from Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences volume 4, art.22)(BAE Library PM 211.P5). The Dakota alphabet in Gibb's hand is a copy from Riggs, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, 4, 1852.
Folder 5: Printed materials: Clipping, definition of symbols "from the manual or circular sent out by Gibbs, George . . . . 1863" two copies printed sheet "The Origin of our alphabet," copyright 1877 by J. Enthoffer Newspaper clipping re Melville Bellʹs "Universal Alphabet," March 17, 1876.
Folder 6: McGee to Boas, May 27, 1903 (Copy); Boas to McGee, May 28, 1903; McGee to Boas, June 16, 1903; J. P. Harrington to F. W. Hodge, January 11, 1910; J. P. Harrington to F. W. Hodge, January 16, 1910 (two letters, this date); Hodge to Harrington, January 20, 1910; Harrington to Hodge, September 30, 1911; Hewitt to Hodge, October 16, 1911 re Harringtonʹs proposals; Hodge to Harrington, October 18, 1911.
Texts: "The Mink and the Ghost," 1 p. and "The Man and the Whale," 3 pp., both with interlinear translations.
Boas classified Snanaimuq as a Coast Salish dialect and found a very slight difference between Snanaimuq and the Nanaimo, Kwantlen, and Tait dialects reported by Roehrig (BAE MS No. 3072, parts 2 and 3). Cf. Boas' Classification of Salishan MSS Vocabularies in BAE Archives and List of Main Dialects of the Salishan stock, MS No. 652.
Introductory note on p. 1 of MS No. 738 as follows: "The Snanaimuq proper inhabit the valley of the Nanimo River and the adjacent islands. They are claled the by Cal'oltg [Comox], Nanai'muq. The dialect of the Snanaimuq isi almost identical with that of the Cowitchin, and, in the following vocabulary, a number of Cowitchin words have been inserted in parentheses. The dialect of the Snanaimuq and Cowitchin is spoken from Nonoos Bay to the west side of Sanitch Inlet; on the adjacent islands and in the Delta of Fraser River as far as Yale and Spuzzum. Among published vocabularies those of the Snanaimuq and Cowitchen (in Tolmie's and Dawson's vocabularies) and of the Teit (by Gibbs) belong to this dialect."
Caption, if any, or brief description: USNM Item Number 1 Route from Amakdjuak to Sessikdjuak ?; USNM Item Number 2 Hudson Strasse und Frobisher Bay von Nijuipa ?; USNM Item Number 3 Kuste der Hudson Strasse von King's Cape bis North Bluff; USNM Item Number 4 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 5 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 6 Number 6 not found; USNM Item Number 7 ... ? West Kuste der Cumberland ... Sundes ? w ? Frobisher Bay; USNM Item Number 8 Thru 31 October; USNM Item Number 9 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 10 List of place names ?, may belong with one of the maps; USNM Item Number 11 Route from Frobisher Bay to "Armakdjuang" Lake Amadjuak; USNM Item NUmber 12 Unidentified map; "Kagiluktung"?; USNM Item Number 13 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 14 Unidentified map with short Eskimo text on reverse; USNM Item 15 Unidentified map with mathematical equations on reverse; USNM Item Number 16 Unidentified map with mathematical equations on reverse; USNM Item Number 17 and 18 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 19 Unidentified map; notes not legible, but do include the word "Tinera' kdjuak" which could be Tinikdjuarbing or Cumberland Sound; USNM Item Number 20 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 21 Unidentified map;
USNM Item Number 22 Map with islands marked by numbers which appear to correspond with the numbered names in Number 26; USNM Item Number 23 Suh lu ack juv; USNM Item Number 24 Kinawah, Kingowa or Kingua ?; USNM Item Number 25 Unidentified map; USNM Item Number 26 Numbered list of Eskimo place names ?; see Number 22; USNM Item Numbers 27-32 Unidentified maps; notes not legible. List of place names ? with illegible notes on reverse. Unidentified maps (on both sides of sheet). Kuste von Hudson Bay. Printed map with illegible notes on reverse. Karte I Pokkuk ? 26th October.
NAA MS 169270
Most of the maps are not identified as to the precise area they represent except by Eskimo place names. Other notes on the maps include a short text in Eskimo and some notes in German and English; most of these notes are illegible, because Boas used a shorthand system of his own in writing many of them, and his handwriting is very difficult to read even when not abbreviated.