Franz Boas photograph collection
- Majority of material found within 1894-1902
- Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 (Person)
Physical Description Note
Access Conditions and Restrictions Note
4 Linear Feet (4 boxes) : 650 black and white photographs, 39 postcards, 148 individual contact prints, 90 photocopied nitrate negatives, 7 envelopes, 3 movie stills, 1 color enhanced photograph,1 newspaper illustration, 1 business card, 1 painting
Boas worked with the Inuit of Baffin Island from 1883-1884, spurring his interest in primitive culture from observations of the Eskimos. From 1885-1886 Boas worked with Rudolf Virchow and Adolf Bastian at the Royal Ethnographic Museum in Berlin. In 1886 Boas made the first of many trips to the North Pacific Coast to study the Kwakiutl and other tribes of British Columbia, on which he later specialized.
In 1887, Boas left Germany for a position as assistant editor of the journal Science in the United States, becoming a permanent U.S. resident. In 1888 Boas began teaching at Clark University, followed by a position at the Chicago Field Museum that lasted until 1894. In 1895, Boas was appointed Assistant Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), became Curator of Ethnology from 1900-1903, and served as Curator of Anthropology at AMNH from 1904-1905. Boas led the Boas Expedition to Northwest Territories in 1894, traveling to Vancouver, British Columbia to collect materials on Northwest Coast Indians. Boas also directed and edited reports for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition: 1897-1902, the purpose of which was to investigate relationships between the aborigines of Siberia and North America. George Hunt and James Teit served as Boas’ guides to facilitate interactions and aid in translation on his Northwest Coast expeditions. Between 1897 and 1903 Boas secured funding, fielded research teams, and over the next three decades, edited and supervised Expedition publications in addition to his other writing.
Boas began teaching at Columbia University in 1896 and became Professor of Anthropology at Columbia in 1899. Boas trained and influenced many notable ethnologists and linguists, such as Robert Lowie, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits, and Zora Neale Hurston. Boas is credited for being responsible for encouraging women to enter the field of anthropology.
Boas left AMNH in 1905 and continued working at Columbia until his death on December 21, 1942. During his lifetime he established the International Journal of American Linguistics, and played a key role in organizing the American Anthropological Association. As a specialist in cultures and languages of the American Indians, Boas facilitated the creation of at least two dictionaries of Native American languages, including Kwakwala by Dan Cranmer and another of Dakota language co-written with his student Ella Cara Deloria. In fall 2008, members of the Kwakiutl tribe traveled to AMNH to advise researchers concerning the temporary exhibit, Chiefly Feasts: The Enduring Kwakiutl Potlatch, October 18, 1991-Feburary 23, 1992, where portions of this photo collection were displayed.
Source of Acquisition Note
Separated Materials Note
Physical Description Note
- Franz Boas photograph collection, 1868-1943 (bulk 1894-1902)
- Lauren Dzura, Alexandra Guillen
- December 2011, August 2018
- Description rules
- Language of description
- Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2010.
- August 2018: Alexandra Guillen, library school student volunteer, further processed the Boas print collection reflecting Aaron Glass's rearrangement of materials. Alex foldered and labeled the files and entered the new folder structure into ArchivesSpace.