Research Catalog

Melville J. and Frances S. Herskovits papers,

Title
Melville J. and Frances S. Herskovits papers, 1902-1972.
Author
Herskovits, Melville J. (Melville Jean), 1895-1963.
Supplementary Content
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Vol/DateFormatAccessStatusCall NumberLocation
Box 1Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 1Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 2Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 2Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 3Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 3Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 5Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 5Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 6Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 6Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 7Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 7Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 8Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 8Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 9Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 9Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 10Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 10Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 11Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 11Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 12Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 12Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 13Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 13Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 14Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 14Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 15Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 15Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 16Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 16Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 17Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 17Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 18Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 18Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 19Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 19Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 20Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 20Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 21Mixed materialUse in libraryAvailableSc MG 261 Box 21Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives

Details

Additional Authors
Description
43.6 lin. ft. (106 boxes)
Donor/Sponsor
Schomburg NEH Automated Access to Special Collections Project.
Subjects
Note
  • Art and artifacts have been transferred to the Art and Artifacts Division, Photographs have been transferred to the Photographs and Prints Division and Recordings have been transferred to the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division and are described separately.
Access (note)
  • Boxes 28, 30, 31 (folder 189) and 70 (folder 703) are closed until 2024.
Source (note)
  • Herskovits, Jean
Location of Other Archival Materials (note)
  • Northwestern University Archives,
  • Northwestern University Archives,
Biography (note)
  • Anthropologist; Africanist; founder of the first African Studies program in the United States.
Provenance (note)
  • Portions of the collection were on loan to the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, the National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC and in private storage in Orlando, Florida. The entire collection was acquired by the Schomburg Center in 1986.
Processing Action (note)
  • Processed
  • Cataloged
Call Number
Sc MG 261
Author
Herskovits, Melville J. (Melville Jean), 1895-1963.
Title
Melville J. and Frances S. Herskovits papers, 1902-1972.
Summary
The Melville J. and Frances S. Herskovits papers document the personal lives and professional careers of Melville J. Herskovits, his wife Frances S. Herskovits. There are also papers for their daughter Jean F. Herskovits.
The Personal Papers (1902-1963) consist of family records including correspondence, wills and datebooks.
The Research Materials (1925-1957) document all phases of the Herskovitses work: field notes written on cards, in notebooks and typewritten; drafts, typescripts and published articles. The field notes were collected during the Herskovitses trips to Surinam (1928), Dahomey, Gold Coast, Nigeria (1931), Haiti (1936), Trinidad (1939), Brazil (1941-1942) as well as notes and diaries from later trips to Africa (1953, 1956-1957). Data from these later trips were used to prepare a report on Africa for the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1959 which helped to determine United States foreign policy towards Africa. Also included are booklists related to the Herskovits' subject areas and indices to periodical articles. The latter are arranged alphabetically by author and there is also a subject and title index. The Writings Series (1920-1963) includes over 15 boxes of Melville Herskovits' published and unpublished works consisting of manuscripts, notes and fragments. Included are the manuscripts of "Dahomean Narrative: A Cross-Cultural Analysis" written with Francis Herskovits, "Economic Transition in Africa" and "The Human Factor in a Changing Africa." The articles and reviews have been arranged in accordance with the 32-page Herskovits bibliography. There are also published and unpublished articles, conference and lecture notes.
The Frances S. Herskovits files include personal papers, research materials and writings, both by Mrs. Herskovits as well as compilations of her husband's works which she edited for publication. The files also contain notes from her 1968 Brazil trip, a follow-up to the initial field research conducted between 1941 and 1942 and her Haiti and Trinidad diaries. There are also records of her African Literature courses taught at Northwestern University consisting of correspondence, syllabi, lecture notes, course outlines, research notes, student papers, conference papers and miscellaneous notes.
The General files consist of correspondence and itineraries for the 1953, 1957 and 1960 African trips, Herskovits' 1960 trip to Russia and his 1954 trip to Trinidad and Brazil to attend the International Anthropological Congress in Sao Paulo. Conference papers, clippings, programs, handbills, writings by other scholars, including reviews of Herskovits' books and the opinions of his colleagues expressed in personal communications, are included in this series. There are also clippings and handbills documenting the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya and lists of the African art and artifacts collected by the Herskovitses.
The Northwestern University (1930s-1960s) files include Melville Herskovits' syllabi, lecture notes and course outlines as well as student field work notes, correspondence and conference materials.
The Jean F. Herskovits files complete the collection and includes a bound copy of her dissertation "Liberated Africans and the History of Lagos Colony to 1886."
Access
Boxes 28, 30, 31 (folder 189) and 70 (folder 703) are closed until 2024.
Biography
Anthropologist; Africanist; founder of the first African Studies program in the United States. Melville J. Herskovits was born in 1895 in Bellefontaine, Ohio. He received his Doctorate in Anthropology in 1923 from Columbia University where he studied with the eminent anthropologist Franz Boas.
With his research associate, collaborator and wife Frances, Herskovits embarked on a forty-year study of African cultures on both sides of the Atlantic. In his 1941 landmark work "The Myth of the Negro Past" and in his more than 400 publications, Herskovits refuted many of the popularly-held beliefs regarding the absence of a sound African culture and the question of the continuity of African culture among blacks in the New World.
For thirty-five years Herskovits taught at Northwestern University where in 1947 he founded the Program of African Studies, the first of its kind in the United States. He received numerous honors and distinctions throughout his career and served as both President of the American Folklore Society and the African Studies Association. He also chaired committees of the American Coucil of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council among others. Herskovits died in 1963 and in 1970 the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies was established at Northwestern University.
Frances Herskovits was her husband's close and constant collaborator. During field trips she obtained data pertaining to the subculture of the women as well as information on some aspects of ritual, art and other major activities. Mrs. Herskovits co-authored several articles and four books with Melville Herskovits, including "Rebel Destiny" (1934), "Suriname Folk-lore" (1936), "Trinidad Village" (1947) and "Dahomean Narrative" (1958). In 1966 she edited "The New World Negro," a collection of papers by Herskovits and in 1973 "Cultural Relativism," another collection of his writings. With a background in literature and French, Mrs. Herskovits taught African literature at Northwestern University for many years. She died in 1972 in Evanston, Illinois.
Location of Other Archival Materials
Northwestern University Archives, University Library, 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201 United States Program of African Records (35/13).
Northwestern University Archives, University Library, 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201 United States Melville J. Herskovits Papers (35/6).
Connect to:
Added Author
Armstrong, Robert Plant.
Campbell, Donald Thomas, 1916-
Drake, St. Clair.
Fernandez, James W.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude.
Messenger, Jon C. (John Cowan), 1920-
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976.
Szwed, John F., 1936-
White, Walter, 1893-1955.
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Beacon Press.
University of Chicago. Press.
Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)
American Society For African Culture (2nd : 1959 Jun. 26-29 : New York, N.Y.)
Congresso Internacional de Americanists (31st : 1954 : Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Inter-African Conference On Social Sciences (1955 Aug.-Sept : Bakavu, Belgian Congo)
International Conference of Africanists (1st : 1962 : Accra, Ghana)
International Social Science Council (1961 Sept. 12-15 : Paris, France)
Social Science Research Council (1962 Apr. 13-14 : New York, N.Y.)
Added Title
Schomburg NEH Automated Access to Special Collections Project.
Research Call Number
Sc MG 261
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