Crawford, James M. (James Mack), 1925-1989

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James M. Crawford was a linguist who mainly studied Native American languages, including Cocopa, Yuchi, and Mobilian trade language. He came to the field of linguistics halfway through his lifetime after pursuing a career in forestry in the West and Southwest. After receiving his PhD in 1966 from the University of California at Berkeley, he returned to his birthplace, Georgia, where he taught in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Georgia at Athens.

From the description of Papers, 1906-1988. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122624455

From the guide to the Recordings of Native American languages, Bulk, 1963-1973, 1953, 1956, 1963, 1965, 1967-68, 1970-73, (American Philosophical Society)

James M. Crawford was born on 18 September 1925 in Commerce, Georgia, where his father was a farmer. As a child, Crawford became interested in languages by listening to Mexican radio stations; while in school, he studied Latin, French, and German. He served in the United States Army in Europe from 1943 to 1946 during the second World War. After returning to Georgia, he studied forestry at the University of Georgia in Athens, receiving his B.S. in 1949.

From 1949 to 1950, Crawford worked as County Ranger in the Georgia Forestry Commission in Butler, Georgia; then from 1950 to 1952 as Forester in the United States Forest Service in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. From 1953 to 1954, Crawford worked as Lumber Grader for the Hammond Lumber Company in Samoa, California and then for a year as Surveyor for the Utah Construction Company in Hawthorne, Nevada.

In 1956, Crawford returned to the forestry profession as Research Forester at the Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station in Berkeley, California, where he worked until 1961. While there, he encountered a linguist working in the Sierras and became fascinated with the study of languages as a career. Soon after this encounter, Crawford arrived as a graduate student at the Department of Linguistics of the University of California at Berkeley, beginning his linguistic studies with Russian and Old Slavic. One of his professors, Dr. Mary Haas (a student of Edward Sapir), encouraged Crawford to study Native American languages, and he became engrossed in the intricacies of Cocopa, Yuchi, and Choctaw. From 1962 to 1965, he was a teaching assistant at Berkeley.

Crawford's dissertation, The Cocopa Language, focused on the language of the Cocopa Indians, whom he had visited in 1962 in Arizona. Cocopa is one of ten Yuman languages spoken in Arizona, California, and Mexico. In a later work, Cocopa Texts (1983), Crawford published phonetic transcriptions and English translations of Cocopa stories that he had collected.

Crawford received his Ph.D. in 1966. That year, he became Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University, where he taught for two years. He returned in 1968 to the University of Georgia, this time as Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology; in 1981, he became Professor. Crawford taught courses in linguistics, phonology, morphology and syntax, field methods in linguistics, and Native American languages.

Crawford received a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1976 to study Mobilian trade language (a now extinct language that was once spoken along the Mississippi River). He won the 1977 James Mooney Award, given jointly by the Southern Anthropological Society and the University of Tennessee Press, for his manuscript, The Mobilian Trade Language, which was judged to be the outstanding manuscript on New World cultures. As part of the award, the manuscript was published by the University of Tennessee Press. During his field work, Crawford had traveled to Louisiana to interview the remaining three speakers of Mobilian; they had all died by the time the book was published.

Crawford also received grants to study Yuchi, which is a language isolate; that is, it is not related to other known languages and contains few borrowed words. The Yuchi Indians lived throughout South Georgia before being moved to Oklahoma with the Creek Indians in the 1830s. The Yuchi dictionary that Crawford worked on was never published. Crawford also helped to show that Yuchi Indians had been present in the Georgia area one hundred years sooner than had been previously thought. When Kristian Hvidt, librarian of Danish Parliament in Copenhagen, Denmark, discovered in 1977 some drawings of Yuchi Indians that had been done by Baron Philipp Georg Friedrich von Reck in the 1730s, Crawford was able to translate the Yuchi text on the labels.

Crawford received other grants to study Alabama, Cherokee, and other southeastern Indian languages. In 1980, he received, from the University of Georgia, the Albert Christ-Janer Award for Creativity in Research.

Crawford organized several symposia on Southeastern Indian Languages, and in 1978, he co-organized with Robert L. Rankin the first Conference on Muskogean Languages and Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He served as referee for the International Journal of American Linguistics, Macmillan Publishing Company, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. He edited the Department of Anthropology newsletter.

Crawford was a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Arizona Historical and Archaeological Society, the International Linguistics Association, the Linguistic Society of America, the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society, the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics, and the Southern Anthropological Society.

Crawford's publications include numerous articles and reviews, as well as Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages, a book that he edited. He also published a Cocopa Dictionary as a companion volume to Cocopa Texts. Crawford was in the process of writing a Cocopa grammar that would be the third volume in the series on the Cocopa language when he died on 5 May 1989.

From the guide to the James M. Crawford Papers, 1906-1988, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Recordings of Native American languages, Bulk, 1963-1973, 1953, 1956, 1963, 1965, 1967-68, 1970-73 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf James M. Crawford Papers, 1906-1988 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Recordings of Native American languages, Bulk, 1963-1973, 1953, 1956, 1963, 1965, 1967-68, 1970-73 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf James M. Crawford papers, 1974-1975. University of Georgia, University of Georgia, Main Library
creatorOf Crawford, James M. (James Mack), 1925-1989. Papers, 1906-1988. American Philosophical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Cocopa, Mary person
associatedWith Couro, Ted person
associatedWith Crawford, James Mack, 1925-1989 person
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associatedWith Hayes, Victor person
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Yuchi Indians--History
Cocopa Indians--Domestic life
Koasati language
Kumiai language
Shoshoni language
Tolowa language
Alabama Indians--Folklore
Mobilian trade language
Wolof language
Yavapai language
Cocopa Indians--Education
American Council of Learned Societies
Yuchi language
Chickasaw language
Cherokee language
Yuchi Indians
National Science Foundation
Trail of Tears, 1838-1839
Alabama language
Yuki language
Cocopa Indians--Social life and customs
Alabama Indians--Music
Navajo language
Chontal language--Dictionaries
Cocopa Indians--Folklore
Tolowa Indians--Music
Yuchi Indians--Educiation
Newari language
Cocopa Indians--Music
Yavapai Indians--Music
Catawba language
Russian language--Texts
Yuchi Indians--Social life and customs
Mohave Indians--Music
Choctaw language
Birds--Songs and music
Coyote (Legendary character)--Legends
Cocopa language
Kiliwa language
Navajo Indians


Birth 1925-09-08

Death 1989-05-05



Ark ID: w6640hdn

SNAC ID: 27445934