Anthropology, Archaeology and Ethnology
Materials on anthropology, traditionally defined to encompass social or cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics, as well as ethnology (works on the origin, distribution, and characteristics of populations of particular regions or countries), are well represented in the Library's general and special collections. Anthropological, archaeological, and ethnological materials can be found in all formats: books, documents, technical reports, manuscripts, newspapers, microforms, maps, music, films, prints, and photographs. Area divisions have materials in many vernacular languages, and several divisions have unique collections. Ethnographies of peoples from around the globe are represented in the Library's collections.
A total volume count of anthropological materials is impossible to provide, as anthropology, archaeology, and ethnology cut across many LC classes. Psychological anthropology falls in the B class; archaeological method and theory in C; ethnographies and archaeological site reports are in D, E, and F; anthropological method in GN; political anthropology in J; legal anthropology in K; ethnomusicology in M; and physical anthropology in Q. A 1989 survey showed 20,460 titles in class GN, covering anthropological method, ethnological science, and prehistoric archaeology; and 1,982 titles in class CC, which covers general archaeology. Again these numbers do not reflect the Library's true strengths. Much anthropological and archaeological research is listed under regions or countries with subdivisions for social life and customs, or antiquities, or under ethnology with geographic subdivisions.
Reports of anthropological fieldwork often appear in publications of government agencies, universities, professional associations, societies, museums, and foundations, and in publications of conferences and congresses. Broad collection policies have assured that publications of these kinds are well represented in the Library's general collections. Core journals, monographic series, technical reports, and foreign language journals provide a range of quality research materials.
The collections are particularly strong in areas covering small indigenous groups from nomadic and mountain peoples to hunters and gatherers representing regions from around the world. Many topics from ethnographic arts and crafts to social organization to folk literature are strongly represented. The collections' greatest strengths are in materials covering cultural and ethnic groups in a number of large geographic regions, with items often in vernacular languages. Area divisions and strong general collections provide excellent coverage for most areas of North America, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Arctic regions.
Preliminary and final reports that accompany research grants for federally funded archaeological investigations are sometimes in the technical report collection in the Science and Technology Division.
Documents from international agencies and foreign governments are often used by cultural anthropologists; while technical articles on potassium argon dating techniques or geomorphology are frequently sought by archaeologists. These fall outside the GN and CC classes yet are anthropological resources well represented at the Library.
Special format and area divisions house unique materials for anthropological research. The Archive of Folk Culture has a million items including manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs, films, videos, and brochures documenting folk life, traditional knowledge, customs, dance, art, and craft from ethnic and regional cultural groups from North America and around the world. Examples of strong holdings include such diverse areas as ritual medical practices, notes from fieldwork, documentary footage of endangered societies, nomadic peoples, city dwellers, Euro-American folk crafts, children's games, religious belief systems, and folktales.
The Manuscript Division has Margaret Mead's Papers and the South Pacific Ethnographic Archives, comprising more than 370,000 items. That division also has Rodolfo R. Schuller's archaeological manuscripts on Central and South America, the Papers of E.G. Squier, and the correspondence of George Stewart Duncan.
Microform collections of anthropological materials include the Human Relations Area Files; microfilm papers of Franz Boas; collections on North American Indians (photographs from the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution); papers from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; and the microfilm collection, Manuscripts on Cultural Anthropology.
Among many other special format collections providing primary source material for anthropological researchers are American Indians in Silent Film, American Indians on Film and Video, the Macmillan Film Collection of Eskimo materials, and sound recordings of Maori Folktales.
Works on medical anthropology and indigenous agricultural practices are underrepresented in the collections because the Library does not collect comprehensively in either clinical medicine or technical agriculture. There are also certain topics and aspects of culture in which coverage is not as strong as for other areas (cultural evolution, culture diffusion, cannibalism, food-getting technologies, and Oceanic peoples).
Many archaeology journals are not retained by the Library because they are highly parochial in Scope. This is a particular weakness in the case of serial holdings from Great Britain and Ireland, which have many local archaeological societies and a longstanding tradition of publishing the results of archaeological investigations.