Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1874-1941

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Elsie Clews Parsons was a sociologist, anthropologist, and folklorist.

From the description of Papers, [ca. 1882]-1978. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122380114

From the description of Isleta sketches, [n.d.]. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 86138573

From the description of Papers, 1835-1944. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122589249

Anthropologist.

From the description of Field notebooks, 1883-1894. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309771503

Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons (1875-1941) was a sociologist, anthropologist, and folklorist. By birth and marriage, Parsons belonged to the wealthy, social, and generally conservative circles of New York City. Nevertheless, the chose to study at newly founded Barnard College (B.A. 1896) and received a doctorate in sociology from Columbia University in 1899. In 1900 Elsie Clews married New York lawyer Herbert Parsons, who later became a Republican National Committeeman (1916-1920). They had six children, four of whom survived: Elsie ("Lissa") born in 1901, John Edward in 1903, Herbert in 1909, and Henry McIlvaine ("Mac") in 1911.

Parsons' early works were in the field of sociology and dealt primarily with gender roles, conventions of society, and the effect of society's pressures on the individual. Her works on these subjects include: The Family (1906), The Old-Fashioned Woman (1913), Fear and Conventionality (1914), Social Freedom (1915), and Social Rule (1916). She also wrote numerous newspaper and journal articles on feminism and pacifism.

After a trip to the American Southwest with her husband in 1910, Parsons' interests turned to anthropology. She began making field trips to Arizona and New Mexico. Under the influence of her friend Franz Boas, Parsons recorded in meticulous detail data on social organization, religious practices, and folklore of the Southwest Indians. Her publications from this period include: The Social Organization of the Tewa of New Mexico (1929), Hopi and Zuni Ceremonialism (1933), and Pueblo Indian Religion (1939). Later in her career, Parsons became interested in the Spanish influence on Indian cultures. She conducted research in Mexico and in Ecuador for her final ethnographies, Mitla: Town of the Souls (1936) and Peguche (1945).

Concurrently, Parsons conducted research in folklore, concentrating on folk tales of Afro-Americans and Caribbean peoples. She travelled to the Carolinas, Cape Verde Islands, and Caribbean islands to collect tales, and she frequently funded anthropology students to collect data. Publications in this area of interest include: Folk-Lore from the Cape Verde Islands (1923), Folk-Lore of the Sea Islands, S.C. (1924), and Folk-Lore of the Antilles, French and English (3v., 1933-1943).

Elsie Clews Parsons held the office of President of the American Folklore Society (1918-1920), the American Ethnological Association (1923-1925), and the American Anthropological Association (1940-1941). She was the associate editor of the Journal of American Folklore from 1918 until her death. Parsons also gave much financial support to these groups and financed field trips by young scholars.

From the guide to the Elsie Clews Parsons Papers, 1880-1980, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Clarence Day papers, 1796-1993, 1890-1953 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. A.L. Kroeber papers, 1869-1972. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Papers, 1840-1961. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Hall, Bolton, 1854-1938. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1905-1940, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn McCormick, Katharine Dexter, 1875-1967. Papers, 1912-1958 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
creatorOf Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1874-1941. Papers, [ca. 1882]-1978. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Women Anthropologists and the Native American Southwest, 1880-1945, 1986 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Leslie A. White Papers, 1921-1974 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Redfield, Robert, 1897-1958. Papers, 1925-1958 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. Correspondence, 1862-1942. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Isleta sketches, 1936-1941 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), 1892-1974. Papers, 1892-1981. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1874-1941. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1917-1923. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. A.L. Kroeber papers, 1869-1972. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Franz Boas Papers, 1862-1942 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Elsie Clews Parsons Papers, 1880-1980 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (Museum of New Mexico). Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology archives, 1927-[ongoing]. Museum of New Mexico Library
referencedIn Ernestine H. Wieder Singer notes, 1935-1937, 1935-1937 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Mischa Titiev collection, 1933-1941, 1992 The Museum of Northern Arizona
referencedIn Parsons family. Papers, 1832-1982. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Women in New Mexico Collection, 1976-ongoing University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
referencedIn Kennedy, Elsie Parsons, 1903-1966. Reminiscences of Elsie Parsons Kennedy : oral history, 1962. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Day, Clarence, 1874-1935. Clarence Day papers, 1796-1993, (bulk dates 1890-1935). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1874-1941. Field notebooks, 1883-1894. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Phillips Fund for Native American Research Collection, 1960-present American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Alfred Irving Hallowell Papers, 1892-1981 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Singer, Ernestine H. Wieder. Notes, 1935-1937. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1875-1941,. Isleta sketches, [n.d.]. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1875-1941. Letter, 1913, Nov. 26, New York City, to Mr. Koopman. Brown University, John Hay Library
creatorOf Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1875-1941. Papers, 1835-1944. American Philosophical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Adair, John person
associatedWith American Anthropological Association. corporateBody
associatedWith American Folklore Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Babcock, Barbara A., 1943- person
associatedWith Balch, Ernesto person
associatedWith Balch, Ernesto. person
associatedWith Beals, Ralph L. (Ralph Leon), 1901-1985. person
associatedWith Benedict, Ruth, 1887-1848 person
associatedWith Benedict, Ruth, 1887-1948. person
associatedWith Boardman, Mabel Thorp, 1860-1946. person
associatedWith Boardman, Ruth person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. person
associatedWith Bourne, Randolph Silliman, 1886-1918. person
associatedWith Bovey, Charles person
associatedWith Bovey, Charles. person
associatedWith Brice, Kirkpatrick person
associatedWith Bunzel, Ruth Leah, 1898-1990. person
associatedWith Camody, Mary person
associatedWith Carmody, Mary. person
associatedWith CastaC1ega, Martin de person
associatedWith Cole, Fay-Cooper, b. 1881. person
associatedWith Day, Clarence person
associatedWith Day, Clarence, 1874-1935. person
associatedWith Drinkwater, George R. person
associatedWith Drinkwater, George R. person
associatedWith Eastman, Max, 1883-1969. person
associatedWith Eggan, Fred, 1906-1991. person
associatedWith Fauset, A. H. person
associatedWith Fauset, Arthur Huff, 1899-1983. person
associatedWith Fitz, Reginald person
associatedWith Fitz, Reginald, 1885-1953. person
associatedWith Galton, Francis, Sir, 1822-1911 person
associatedWith Gifford, Edward W. person
associatedWith Gifford, Edward Winslow, 1887-1959. person
associatedWith Goddard, Pliny Earle, 1869-1928. person
associatedWith Goldenweiser, Alexander, 1880-1940 person
associatedWith Goldenweiser, E. A. (Emanuel Alexandrovich), 1883-1953. person
associatedWith Gorrel, Juan. person
associatedWith Gorrell, Juan L. person
associatedWith Hackett, Francis person
associatedWith Hackett, Francis, 1883-1962. person
associatedWith Hall, Bolton, 1854-1938. person
associatedWith Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), 1892-1974. person
correspondedWith Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 person
associatedWith Hare, Peter person
associatedWith Hare, Peter H. person
associatedWith Herskovits, Melville J. (Melville Jean), 1895-1963. person
associatedWith Hughes, Larry person
associatedWith Hughes, Larry. person
associatedWith Johnson, Alvin person
associatedWith Johnson, Alvin. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Elsie Parsons, 1903-1966. person
associatedWith Kidder, Alfred Vincent, 1885-1963. person
associatedWith Koopman, Harry Lyman, 1860-1937, person
associatedWith Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. person
associatedWith La Farge, C. Grant (Christopher Grant), 1862-1938. person
associatedWith La Farge, G. Grant person
associatedWith La Farge, Oliver, 1901-1963. person
associatedWith Law, George person
associatedWith Lente, Joe Bartolo person
associatedWith Lewis, Margaret person
associatedWith Lewis, Margaret Reed. person
associatedWith Looking Elk, Albert person
associatedWith Lowie, Robert Harry, 1883-1957. person
associatedWith Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962. person
associatedWith McCormick, Katharine Dexter, 1875-1967. person
associatedWith Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (Museum of New Mexico) corporateBody
associatedWith Opler, Morris Edward, 1907-1996. person
associatedWith Parezo, Nancy J. person
associatedWith Parsons family. family
associatedWith Parsons, Herbert, 1869-1925. person
associatedWith Parsons, J. E. (John E.) person
associatedWith Parsons, John E. person
associatedWith Pastorella(s?) person
associatedWith Redfield, Robert, 1897-1958. person
associatedWith Reichard, Gladys Amanda, 1893-1955. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. person
associatedWith Sapir, Edward, 1884-1939. person
associatedWith Singer, Ernestine H. Wieder. person
associatedWith Singer, Ernestine H. Wieder. person
associatedWith Spier, Leslie, 1893-1961. person
associatedWith Stephen, Alexander M. person
associatedWith Stephen, Alexander M. person
associatedWith Sullivan, Jeremiah. person
associatedWith Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930. person
associatedWith Thompson, Stith, 1885-1976. person
associatedWith Titiev, Mischa, 1901-1978 person
associatedWith Titiev, Morris person
associatedWith Titiev, Morris. person
associatedWith True, Clara person
associatedWith True, Clara. person
associatedWith University of California, Berkeley. Anthropology Department. corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Anthropology. corporateBody
associatedWith White, Leslie A., 1900-1975. person
associatedWith Yente, Joe. person
associatedWith Young, George person
associatedWith Young, George. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Ecuador
North America
Caribbean Area
Philippines
New Mexico
Mexico
Greece
West (U.S.)
Southwest, New
Oaxaca
Maine
West Indies
Subject
Anthropology, ethnography, fieldwork
Folklore--Jamaica
Phillipine Islands--Description and travel--20th century
Anthropology
Hopi Indians--Land tenure
Hopi Indians
Taos Indians
Birth control
Hopi Indians--Rites and ceremonies
Indians of South America--Social life and customs
Indians of South America--Folklore
Hopi Indians--Social life and customs
Indians of Mexico
Anthropologists
Pacificism
Isleta Indians
Indians of North America--New Mexico
Pacifism
World War, 1914-1918
Pueblo Indians--Folklore
Sleep
Indians of North America
African Americans--Folklore
Tewa Indians--Social life and customs
Greece--Description and travel--20th century
Blacks--Jamaica--Folklore
Sociology
Peace movements--20th century
Isleta art
Tewa Indians
Navajo Indians--Land tenure
Indians of North America--British Columbia
Indians of North America--Folklore
Indians of Mexico--Folklore
Southwest Indians
Indians of North America--Arizona
Quechua Indians
Indian art
Indians of Central America
Indians of North America--Social life and customs
Folk literature, American, etc
Indians of South America--Ecuador
Feminism
Folk literature, Jamaican
Pueblo Indians
Folklore
Women--Suffrage
Culture, community, organizations
Kwakiutl Indians
Zuni Indians
Ethnology
Hopi language--Glossaries, vocabularies, etc
Occupation
Collector
Women anthropologists
Anthropologists--United States
Function

Person

Birth 1875-11-27

Death 1941-12-19

Female

Americans

English

Information

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