University of Chicago. Department of anthropology

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The Department of Anthropology of the University of Chicago sponsored a project (ca. 1936-1948) to microfilm and photograph primary source materials that documented the contacts between Native Americans of the Mississippi Valley and white men. The project was directed by Fay-Cooper Cole.

From the description of Ethno-history collection, [ca. 1936]-1948. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52248144

Established as a separate department, 1929. Formerly part of the Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology.

From the description of Records, 1929-1960 (inclusive), 1929-1946 (bulk). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52250088

From the description of Records, 1953-1970 (inclusive). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52250089

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago was founded in 1929 under the chairmanship of Fay-Cooper Cole, but had a longer historical presence at the University. Anthropology was established as a field of early interest at the University of Chicago through William Rainey Harper’s appointment in 1892 [the first year that classes were held] of Frederick Starr as the first faculty member in anthropology. This was one of Harper’s first acts as the inaugural president of the University of Chicago.

Starr was originally appointed into the “scientific department”, but with Harper’s development of the “social science” (or sociology) department under Albion W. Small, he was quickly reappointed. During the period of his appointment until his retirement in 1923, Professor Starr frequently traveled, conducting research in the United States and Mexico, as well as in Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Africa. Starr was an immensely popular teacher and lecturer, but his frequent travels regularly interrupted instruction in anthropology, necessitating the continued administrative integration of Anthropology with the department of Sociology.

Following Starr’s retirement, the University offered a part-time appointment to Fay-Cooper Cole, who had done long-term fieldwork in the Philippines in 1906, and was employed at the Field Museum. Cole consolidated his position, lobbied for and achieved the separation between the departments of sociology and anthropology in 1929, and facilitated the recruitment and appointment of the brilliant linguistic anthropologist Edward Sapir, a second-generation student of Franz Boas who helped to shift the intellectual culture of the department away from Starr’s museum orientation to the knowledge of the patterns of social behavior, and especially of symbolism. Sapir’s influence inspired linguistic anthropological fieldwork by Manuel Andrade, Harry Hoijer and Father Bernard Haile amongst various communities in the United States and Mexico.

Sapir’s appointment was followed shortly by that of Robert Redfield, whose policy-orientation towards contemporary America and interest and concern with contemporary social issues reveals the influence on the department of anthropology of the Chicago School of Sociology and its chair, Robert E. Park (who was also Redfield’s teacher and father in law). Redfield and Tax’s early research on rural and urban communities in Yucatan (and subsequently Guatemala) further articulated this influence. In addition to small portions here, larger collections on this research can be found in the papers of Robert Redfield and Sol Tax as well as the papers of the Chiapas Project.

Early research also included the archeological excavation of important sites in Illinois, including the Kincaid Mounds, which for many years served as a summer “field school” for anthropology graduate students and a key site where modern archeological field methods were developed and revolutionized. This research revealed how certain archeological features in these sites established the state of Illinois as central in the understanding of the etho-history of the Mississippi Valley region. The department produced various monographs and a comparative pictorial survey (conducted primarily by Thorne Deuel) of the archeology of the region.

A significant moment in early departmental history was the initially temporary appointment of British social-anthropologist Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown to the faculty to replace Sapir’s initially temporary position at Yale. Radcliffe Brown’s reworking of Durkheimian themes in his ahistorical approach to social structure and function reoriented the department towards the “social science” from which it had since departed. This perspective contrasted sharply with Sapir’s historically particularist Boasian framework, resulting in a revealing schism between the “socially” and “culturally” oriented anthropologists in the department. Both their respective “temporary” appointments became permanent, until Radcliffe-Brown’s departure for Oxford in 1937 and Sapir’s death in 1939.

In the late 1950’s the recruitment of Lloyd Fallers, Clifford Geertz and David Schneider from the University of California Berkeley breathed new life into the department following the death of Redfield (of Leukemia in 1958) and the departure of Sherwood Washburn and Lloyd Warner. These former three scholars reoriented the department towards a symbolic approach to anthropology, which had a monumental impact on the field. These young scholars also oriented the department towards the ongoing recruitment of “star” anthropologists who would revolutionize the field. The personal and professional papers of these three scholars are all available for research in the University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center.

Subsequent faculty hires with a significant impact on the culture, research and ongoing influence of the department of anthropology include Marshall Sahlins, Bernard Cohn, Michael Silverstein, Jean and John Comaroff, Terence Turner, Stanley Tambiah, Nancy Munn, Valerio Valeri and George Stocking. These scholars have all further articulated the themes that have long concerned Chicago anthropologists with increased attention to the relationship between anthropology and history, colonialism and imperialism and semiotic approaches to culture. Rooted in these historical and contemporary influences, the University of Chicago’s Department of Anthropology has continued to be one of the premier departments in anthropological instruction and research in the world.

From the guide to the University of Chicago. Department of Anthropology. Records, 1929-1997, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Schneider, David M. Papers, 1918-1994 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Smith, Raymond T. Papers, 1952-2003 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Cohn, Bernard. Papers, 1942-2000 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Singer, Milton. Papers, 1925-1999 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Tax, Sol (1907-1995). Sol Tax papers, 1923-1989 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Nash, Manning, 1914-2001. Manning Nash papers, 1942-1988 (inclusive) University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Redfield, Robert, 1897-1958. Papers, 1925-1958 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Redfield, Robert. Papers, 1917-1958 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Friedrich, Paul. Papers, 1953-1984 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Eggan, Fred, 1906-1991. Papers, 1870-1991 (inclusive), 1920s-1991 (bulk). University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Nash, Manning. Papers, 1942-1988 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Smith, Raymond Thomas, 1925-. Raymond T. Smith papers, 1952-2003 (inclusive) University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Cohn, Bernard S., 1928-2003. Bernard Cohn papers, 1942-2000 (inclusive) University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Fallers, Lloyd A. Papers, 1937-1977 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
creatorOf University of Chicago. Dept. of Anthropology. Records, 1953-1970 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
creatorOf University of Chicago. Dept. of Anthropology. The Ethno-History Research Library notebooks, [ca. 1948]. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Eggan, Fred. Papers, 1870-1991(inclusive) Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Schneider, David Murray, 1918-1995. David M. Schneider papers, 1918-1994 (inclusive) University of Chicago Library
creatorOf University of Chicago. Dept. of Anthropology. Ethno-history collection, [ca. 1936]-1948. University of Chicago Library
creatorOf University of Chicago. Department of Anthropology. Records, 1929-1997 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf University of Chicago. Dept. of Anthropology. Records, 1929-1960 (inclusive), 1929-1946 (bulk). University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Starr, Frederick. Papers, 1868-1935 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ablon, Joan person
associatedWith Barker, George Carpenter, 1912-1958. person
associatedWith Bowers, Alfred W. person
associatedWith Buitrón, Aníbal. person
associatedWith Cohn, Bernard S., 1928-2003. person
associatedWith Cole, Fay-Cooper, b. 1881. person
associatedWith Commons, Rachel person
associatedWith Eggan, Fred, 1906-1991. person
associatedWith Ellis, Florence Hawley. person
associatedWith Fallers, Lloyd A. person
associatedWith Friedrich, Paul, 1927 person
associatedWith Guthe, Carl E. 1893-1974. person
associatedWith Haile, Berard, 1874-1961. person
associatedWith Illinois State Academy of Science. corporateBody
associatedWith Illinois State Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Krogman, Wilton Marion, 1903-1987. person
associatedWith Laboratory of Anthropology (Museum of New Mexico) corporateBody
associatedWith Langford, George, 1876- person
associatedWith Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) corporateBody
associatedWith Moorehead, Warren King, 1866-1939. person
associatedWith Nash, Manning, 1914-2001. person
associatedWith Radcliffe-Brown, A. R, 1881-1955 person
associatedWith Redfield, Robert, 1897-1958. person
associatedWith Sapir, Edward, 1884-1939. person
associatedWith Schneider, David Murray, 1918-1995. person
associatedWith Setzler, Frank M. 1902-1975. person
associatedWith Singer, Milton B. person
associatedWith Smith, Raymond Thomas, 1925- person
associatedWith Srole, Leo. person
associatedWith Starr, Frederick, 1858-1933 person
associatedWith Zingg, Robert M. 1900-1957. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Mississippi River Valley
Missouri River Valley
United States
Mississippi River Valley
United States
Ohio River Valley
Missouri River Valley
Illinois
United States
Louisiana
Ohio River Valley
United States
Subject
Excavations (Archaeology)
Indians of North America
Anthropology
Ethnohistory
Indians of North America--First contact with Europeans
Anthropology--Study and teaching (Higher)
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1918

Active 1994

Americans

English

Information

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