Fenton, William N. (William Nelson), 1908-2005

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William Nelson Fenton is an anthropologist and ethnologist specializing in Iroquoian studies.

From the description of Papers relating to Indian affairs, 1709-1797. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122439907

From the guide to the George Chalmers papers relating to Indian affairs, 1750-1775, 1750-1775, (American Philosophical Society)

William N. Fenton is an anthropologist specializing in Iroquois studies. He has published many papers, reviews, and books about the ceremonies and customs of the Iroquois, including a translation with Elizabeth Moore of "The Customs of the American Indian Compared with the Customs of Primitive Times by Father Joseph Francois Lafitau." His 1987 book, "The False Faces of the Iroquois," is a comprehensive treatment of the creation and use of masks by the Society of Faces.

From the description of Papers, 1635-1994. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122578866

Seneca Indian Jesse Cornplanter transcribed the songs.

From the guide to the Indian songs in Seneca dialect, 1916-1951, in syllables, and other rituals, 1916-1951, (American Philosophical Society)

Born in New Rochelle, N.Y., on December 15, 1908, William Nelson Fenton, became a leading scholar of the history and culture of Iroquois Indians. Raised in New Rochelle until the age of 16, he passed his summers on the family farm in western New York state, located midway between two Seneca Indian reservations. Exposed to anthropological work, Fenton's interests were encouraged by his father and grandfather, friends to Indians there, who assembled a small collection of Indian memorabilia which was later acquired by the Museum of the American Indian.

After receiving his B.A. from Dartmouth in 1931, Fenton attended Yale for graduate study in anthropology. At the end of his first year in New Haven, the Laboratory of Anthropology at Santa Fe awarded him a scholarship for training in field archaeology on the Great Plains of Nebraska and South Dakota, where he took part in his first professional ethnological interviews. Returning to his old home in New York in 1933, Fenton embarked on what would become more than fifty years of field research on the Allegany, Cornplanter, Cattaraugus, and Tonawanda Seneca Reservations and on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada. From 1935 until he received his doctorate in 1937, Fenton also served as a community worker for the United States Indian Service, working principally on the Tonawanda Reservation.

In his first academic appointment in 1937, Fenton introduced anthropology to St. Lawrence University, though he remained for only three semesters before being called to replace J.N.B. Hewitt at the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) of the Smithsonian Institution, earning promotion to Senior Ethnologist in 1943. During the war years, he served as a Research Associate of the Ethnogeographic Board and as Secretary of the Smithsonian War Committee. While a member of the Committee on International Relations in Anthropology at the National Research Council (NRC) from 1952 to 1954, he served as the first Executive Secretary of the Division of Anthropology and Psychology. Meanwhile, he was employed as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and Catholic Universities, and at the University of Michigan.

In 1954, Fenton returned to New York State with his wife, Olive (1908-1986), and their three children to become Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Museum and Science Service in Albany, serving as director of the State Museum for thirteen years. In 1968, he abandoned administration and returned to teaching as Research Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany. In 1979, the trustees named him Distinguished Professor, and Anthony F.C. Wallace delivered the honorary lecture.

Throughout his career, Fenton's research centered on the religious ceremonies and customs of the Iroquois, epitomised by his translation (with Elizabeth Moore) of The Customs of the American Indian Compared with the Customs of Primitive Times by Father Joseph François Lafitau, and hy his most influential work, his 1987 book, The False Faces of the Iroquois .

Fenton received numerous awards, including the Peter Doctor Award of the Seneca Nation (1958), the Cornplanter Medal for Iroquois Research (1965), the Citizen Laureate Award of the University of Albany Foundation (1978), the Distinguished Service Award of the American Anthropological Association (1983), and an LL.D. from Hartwick College (1968). He was president of the American Folklore Society (1959-1960), the American Ethnological Society (1959), and the American Society for Ethnohistory (1961); a Board member of the American Anthropological Association; and a trustee of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (1976-1989). He was a founder of the Conference on Iroquois Research in 1945, and a founding member of the SUNY Albany chapter of Sigma Xi. He was also a long-time member of the Phillips Fund Committee of the American Philosophical Society (1975-1991) and of the American Committee of the Permanent Council of the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (1952-1972), as well as Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Albany. He passed away on June 17, 2005.

From the guide to the William N. Fenton Papers, ca. 1933-2000, (American Philosophical Society)

A Wisconsin native, Lounsbury completed his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and took an MA degree there. He then went to Yale University and was awarded a Ph.D. for work on Oneida phonology and morphology in 1949. While in the Ph.D. program he started teaching, and remained at Yale for the rest of his career. Retiring in 1979, Lounsbury was appointed Sterling Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, a post he held until his death at age 84.

Influenced by his graduate advisor, Morris Swadesh, Lounsbury undertook (1939-1940) the WPA-funded Oneida Language and Folklore Project, Green Bay, Wisconsin. This work eventually culminated in his MA thesis and dissertation. Lounsbury undertook pioneering work in descriptive and comparative Iroquoian linguistics, and made very significant contributions to the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphic texts. He was also an important innovator in the formal analysis of kinship terminologies and structural semantics. Fieldwork was conducted among the Oneida and all other speakers of surviving Iroquoian languages, Natchez, two Mayan and six Brazilian Indian languages. Lounsbury was a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (1969), and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1976) and American Philosophical Society (1987).

From the guide to the Floyd Glenn Lounsbury papers, ca. 1935-1998, Circa 1935-1998, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Snyderman, George Simon, 1908-. Papers, 1758-1995. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 60: Meteorological Project, 1849 1875.
creatorOf New York State Museum and Science Service. Assistant Commissioner's correspondence and subject files, 1954-1968, bulk 1962-1968. New York State Archives
referencedIn Tooker, Elisabeth, 1927-. Papers, 1945-1994. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 27: Weather Bureau.
referencedIn Singer, Ernestine H. Wieder. Notes, 1935-1937. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Indian Language Field Recordings, Bulk, 1950-1954, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1950-1951, 1954, 1956-1957, 1962, 1964 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Seneca Chanters of the Dead, 1958 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972. Edmund Wilson / William Fenton correspondence, 1957-1972. St. Lawrence University, Owen D. Young Library
referencedIn Alfred Irving Hallowell Papers, 1892-1981 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Paul A. W. Wallace Papers, 1920-2000 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Indian songs in Seneca dialect, 1916-1951, in syllables, and other rituals, 1916-1951 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Floyd Glenn Lounsbury papers, ca. 1935-1998, Circa 1935-1998 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Cornplanter, Jesse J. Indian songs in Seneca dialect, 1916-1951, in syllables, and other rituals. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn The future of the Museum of the American Indian, 1984 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf George Chalmers papers relating to Indian affairs, 1750-1775, 1750-1775 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Seneca texts relating to the Green Corn Ceremony; An origin of the False Faces, 1948 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Fenton, William N. (William Nelson), 1908-2005. Papers, 1635-1994. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Phillips Fund for Native American Research Collection, 1960-present American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Frank G. Speck Papers, 1903-1950 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Elisabeth Tooker Papers, 1945-1994 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Hoebel, E. Adamson (Edward Adamson), 1906-. Papers, 1925-1993. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn E. Adamson Hoebel Papers, 1925-1993 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Anthony F. C. Wallace Papers, 1920-2000 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Onondaga text and translation of the Gibson-Goldenweiser text of the Deganawidah epic, 1969-1971 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Seneca Chants and Ceremonies, 1949 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Ethnogeographic Board (Washington, D.C.). Reports on area studies in American universities : mimeograph, 1945. Stanford University, Hoover Institution Library
referencedIn George S. Snyderman Papers, Bulk, 1945-1985, 1758-1995 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Ethnogeographic Board (Washington, D.C.) mimeograph : Reports on area studies in American universities, 1945 Hoover Institution Archives.
creatorOf Iroqouis material, 1941, 1945, 1948 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Interviews concerning the paintings of the Seneca artist Ernest Smith, 1973 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Parker, Arthur Caswell, 1881-1955. Autograph postcard signed ACP to: WNF February 15, 1937. Wellesley College
referencedIn Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972. Correspondence, 1957-1972. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Thompson, S. mss., 1911-1976 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly
creatorOf Jacket, John,. Words to the Ganoda chant of the "Little Water Society" Niga niga ah / written by John Jacket, direct descendant of Red Jacket, [between 1849 and 1870]. Newberry Library
creatorOf Fenton, William N. (William Nelson), 1908-2005,. Papers relating to Indian affairs, 1709-1797. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Ernestine H. Wieder Singer notes, 1935-1937, 1935-1937 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Wallace, Paul A. W. Papers, [ca. 1920]-1967. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), 1892-1974. Papers, 1892-1981. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf William N. Fenton Papers, ca. 1933-2000 American Philosophical Society
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associatedWith Spittal, William Guy person
associatedWith Standing Bear, Carl person
associatedWith Starna, William A. person
associatedWith Stein, William W. person
associatedWith Stevens, Fannie person
associatedWith Stewart, Omer C. person
associatedWith Stillman, Robert person
associatedWith Stocking, George W., 1928- person
associatedWith Stoffle, Carla and Simon Karter person
associatedWith Sturtevant, William C. person
associatedWith Styres, Edward person
associatedWith Sublett, Audrey J. person
associatedWith Sundown, Roland person
associatedWith Swadesh, Morris, 1909-1967 person
associatedWith Symes, Martha I. person
associatedWith Taylor, Douglas person
associatedWith Taylor, Paul M. person
associatedWith Temple, Charles R. person
associatedWith Thomas, David person
correspondedWith Thompson, Stith, 1885- person
associatedWith Tooker, Elisabeth. person
associatedWith Torero, A. person
associatedWith Torres Rubio, Diego de, 1547-1638 person
associatedWith Trigger, Bruce G. person
associatedWith Trigger, Bruce G. person
associatedWith Tyler, Stephen A., 1932- person
associatedWith United States. Department of the Interior. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Texas. corporateBody
associatedWith Vennum, Thomas, Jr. person
associatedWith Ventur, Pierre person
associatedWith Voegelin, C. F. (Charles Frederick), 1906-1986 person
associatedWith Vogel, Virgil J. person
associatedWith Vogt, Evon Z., (Evon Zartman), 1918-2004 person
associatedWith von Gernet, Alexander D. person
associatedWith Walker, Venus person
associatedWith Walker, Willard person
associatedWith Wallace, Anthony F. C., 1923- person
associatedWith Wallace, Paul A. W. person
associatedWith Walsh, Martin W. person
associatedWith War Bow person
associatedWith War Bowl person
associatedWith Waugh, F. W. person
associatedWith Weatherford, Jack person
associatedWith Weaver, Sally M. person
associatedWith Webster, Steven S., (Steven Sebastian) person
associatedWith Wells, Rulon person
associatedWith Wenck, Günther person
associatedWith West, Benjamin person
associatedWith West Long, Will person
associatedWith Whalen, D. H. person
associatedWith Wheeler-Voegelin, Erminie, 1903-1988. person
associatedWith Whetzel, H. H. person
associatedWith White, Clayton C. person
associatedWith White, Leslie A., 1900-1972. person
associatedWith White, Marian E. (Marian Emily), 1921-1975. person
associatedWith Wiesenthal, Andrew M. person
associatedWith Wilbert, Johannes person
associatedWith Williams, Gus person
associatedWith Wilson, Daniel, Sir, 1816-1892 person
associatedWith Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972. person
associatedWith Wissler, Clark, 1870-1947. person
associatedWith Witthoft, John. person
associatedWith Wolfart, H. Christophe person
associatedWith Wolf, Freda Yancy person
associatedWith Woodbury, Hanni person
associatedWith Woodbury, Hanni. person
associatedWith Wright, Roy person
associatedWith Wykoff, M. William person
associatedWith Yale University. Department of Anthropology. corporateBody
associatedWith Yokoyama Lounsbury, Masako person
associatedWith Young, Louisa person
associatedWith Young, Norman person
associatedWith Zigmond, Maurice L. person
associatedWith Zuidema, R. Tom, (Reiner Tom), 1927- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Allegheny River (Pa. and N.Y.)
Klamath Indian Reservation (Or.)
Kinzua Dam
Ohio River Valley
Subject
Eagle dance
Indians of South America--Andes Region--Social life and customs
Indians of North America--Music
Klamath Indians--Music
Oneida Indians--Wisconsin
Seneca Indians--Relocation
Quechua Indians--Social life and customs
Klamath Indians--Politics and government
Navajo Indians--Music
Iroquois Indians--Games
Iroquois Indians--History
Seneca language
Klamath Indians--Social life and customs
Klamath Indians--Land tenure
Seneca Indians--Folklore
Indian artists
Crow language
Handsome Lake Code
Seneca masks
Iroquois Indians--Music
United States. Works Progress Administration
Wampum belts
Buffalo dance
Iroquois Indians--Rites and ceremonies
Powwows--New Mexico
Seneca Indians
Western Apache Indians--Music
Klamath Indians--History
Indians of North America--Ohio River Valley--Treaties
Indians of North America--Treaties
Iroquois Indians--Folklore
Masks
Taos dance
Onondaga Indians--Music
Siksika Indians--Rites and ceremonies
Indians of Mexico--Languages--Writing
Seneca dance
Indians of South America--Languages
Eastern Woodlands Indians
Indians of North America--New Mexico--Music
Pueblo Indians--Government relations
Kinzua Dam (N.Y. and Pa.)
Modoc Indians--Politics and government
Cayuga Indians--Rites and ceremonies
Paiute Indians--Politics and government
Taos Indians--Music
Seneca Indians--Genealogy
Anthropological museums and collections--Law and legislation
Anthropological museums and collections--Laws and legislation
Illustrations--Color
Iroquois dance
Deganawida
Sun--Rising and setting--Songs and music
Onondaga dance
Seneca Indians--Religion
Western Apache dance
Oneida Indians
Iroquois Indians--History--17th century
Iroquois Indians--Religion
Seneca Indians--Rites and ceremonies
Seneca Indians--Social life and customs
Seneca art
Names, Geographical--Pennsylvania
Incas--Social life and customs
Zuni Indians--Music
Klamath Indians--Government relations
Navajo dance
Modoc Indians--Wars, 1873
Jemez Indians--Music
Iroquois Indians--Social life and customs
Modoc Indians--Social conditions
Cayuga Indians--Music
Indians of North America--New Mexico--Government relations
Indian dance--North America
Iroquoian languages
Iroquois Indians--Religion and mythology
Seneca Indians--Music
Iroquois masks
Indians of North America--Government relations
Mayan languages--Writing
Taos Indians--Politics and government
Onondaga language
Oneida language
Klamath Indians--Medicine
Siksika Indians--Music
Indians of Central America--Languages--Writing
Speeches, addresses, etc., Seneca
United States. Treaties, etc. 1864 Oct. 14
Modoc Indians--History
New York (State)--Description and travel--Early works to 1800
Taos Indians--Social life and customs
Hopi Indians--Rites and ceremonies
Hopi Indians--Music
Hopi Indians--Social life and customs
Cherokee language
Siksika language
Jemez dance
Lacandon Indians--Social life and customs
Paiute Indians--History
Waimiri Indians--Social life and customs
Names, Geographical--New York (State)
Occupation
Anthropologists
Compilers
Function

Person

Birth 1908-12-15

Death 2005-06-17

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w6028w5j

SNAC ID: 509745