Guide to the Research Collections



Subdivisions of anthropology and ethnology are collected and maintained by the General Research and Humanities Division, the American History Division, and the Science and Technology Research Center. The anthropological resources are strong: those relating to ethnology and ethnography are particularly strong. There are about 16,400 volumes classified specifically under these subjects, with many additional works classed with history and sociology. Each of the special language divisions makes important contributions to the total holdings. While studies of all the races of the world are present, the resources are strongest for the African Negro,1 the American Indian, the Australian aborigine,2 the Gypsy,3 and the natives of Oceania; there is a small but notable group of materials on the Ainu.

Although anthropology is the collecting responsibility of the General Research and Humanities Division, American Indian anthropology, which includes the Indians of all the Americas, is collected by the American History Division (Billings class mark HB). Genetics and evolution in a general sense are administered by the Science and Technology Research Center. Since this center does not stress the biological sciences, its collections are not remarkable; however, a strong core of basic reference works in the biological sciences is being acquired. Evolution as it applies to man is housed in the general stack collections with the holdings on such related topics as eugenics.

There is substantial bibliographical coverage of anthropology in the library extending from the comprehensive International Bibliography of Social and Cultural Anthropology (1955-) to such bibliographies covering more specialized areas as the Boletín bibliográfico de antropología americano (Mexico, 1937-); monographic bibliographies; and earlier attempts at coverage in the American Anthropologist (1888-).

Over 130 periodical titles on the general subject of anthropology are found in the library, of which some 25 are current. These include such journals as the Bulletins et mémoires (1860-) of the Société d'Anthropologie, the Journal (1871-) of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, the Journal (1886-) of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, and Ethnographia (Budapest, 1890-). The proceedings of international congresses of anthropology held since the late nineteenth century are present. Holdings of periodicals in the more specialized areas of both physical and cultural anthropology are substantial. The series publications of such bodies as the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (formerly the Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology), the Chicago Natural History Museum, and the American Anthropological Association are all available. General learned society publications relating to the Near and Far East in the Oriental Division include a great deal of anthropological information. Index entries for significant journal articles on anthropology appear in the Public Catalog.

Eugenics and evolution are among those topics for which materials are held in strength. There are many editions of Darwin's On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, and a host of works about him and his discoveries and their implications under such diverse subject headings as "Evolution and the Bible" and "Evolution and Religion."

-------------------------------------------- page 198

Description and travel to Oceania and Australia, a subject represented by strong holdings from the sixteenth century to the present, contains a great deal of anthropological interest. Many specialized headings aid the researcher in his use of the catalog; for example, the resources on the Australian aborigine are subdivided by tribal names.

During the period 1943 to 1947, the library was given the Kamchadal and Asiatic Eskimo linguistic and ethnographic materials recorded by Waldemar Jochelson as a member of the Ryabushinski expeditions to Kamchatka in 1909-11. These include a description of the area and its people, their language and religion, with photographs and the texts of 40 folk tales. A catalog of the material is held with the collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.4

About 500 titles on Gypsies in the library include fictional and dramatic treatments and the Journal (1888/89-91/92, 1898-) of the Gypsy Lore Society. Three boxes of the manuscripts of Albert Thomas Sinclair consist of articles, extracts from printed works, letters, and other materials.5 A small but noteworthy collection on the Gypsy language includes grammars, dictionaries, and studies of the dialects in various countries, as well as folk songs and poems in the tongue. This collection is classed with the Indic language materials of the Oriental Division.


Collecting Policy

Folklore is one of the strong features of the library's collection, with holdings of 6,650 volumes. The collecting policy is comprehensive in all areas except in Oriental languages, which are collected on a representative basis. The collection of periodicals, including society publications, is good, with generally complete files in many languages. The Research Libraries currently receive approximately 40 periodical titles from the United States, England, and both Western and Eastern Europe dealing directly with folklore. Most of the important works on the subject which have appeared since the 1870s are in the holdings, as are a number of others of secondary importance. Related materials are found in the resources of such fields as dance, music (folk songs), juvenile literature, and philosophy (with works on occultism, witchcraft,6 etc.).

A collection of about 450 volumes in the American History Division (Billings class mark HABR) contains material on Indian folklore of tribes of the Americas. It reflects the awakening of interest in American folklore just after World War II, and covers folk tales, folk dances, and folk songs. Periodicals include the Journal of American Folklore (1888-) and many other journals of a regional nature. The division selectively collects folklore written for children.

Most of the library's Oriental folklore holdings are in Western European languages, with the exception of rare illustrated books, manuscripts, and scrolls in the Spencer Collection and reprints of original texts in the collections of the Oriental Division. Other material in this division includes Henri Doré's Recherches sur les superstitions en Chine (1911-38), published first as part of Variétés sinologiques, also in the division, both in French and in English translation, and the works of Verrier Elwin on Indian folk tales and folk lore.

A folklore collection of about 1,500 titles in the Balto-Slavic languages in the Slavonic Division emphasizes folk tales and folk songs. The collecting policy is comprehensive, with the exception of materials in the Uralic and Altaic languages, which are selectively collected.

The Jewish Division holdings in folklore, numbering about 700 volumes, are strong in editions of the Aggadah. There are many editions of Jacob ibn Habib's anthology of the aggadic sections of the Talmud, Ein Yaakov (1460-1516). There is a good collection of modern periodicals and books on Jewish folklore.


The collection of English, Scottish, American, Italian, and other European chapbooks in the Research Libraries numbers 2,650 pieces, ranging from the fifteenth century to about 1850, and provides strong supplementary materials for the study of folklore and folk traditions.7 Chapbooks include anything from broadsides to full-sized books sold by chapmen, peddlers, hawkers, or flying-stationers. Many chapbooks were designed for children. The Spencer Collection has over the years acquired a strong collection of Italian rappresentazione and other popular tracts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Rappresentazione are chapbooks, usually of four to six leaves, reproducing miracle and other sacred plays given on certain saint's days. The contemporary popular tracts consist of frottola, noveli, romances, etc. illustrated with woodcuts. About 150 items of this nature join the other rich holdings of material in the Rare Book Division and the Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries. An alphabetical card catalog of all single chapbooks in the Rare Book Division is located there; other items in the Research Libraries are entered under the heading "Chapbooks," with geographical designations, in the Rare Book Division public catalog. Since 1935 the collections have been substantially augmented by gifts and purchases.

Other Folklore-Related Materials

The Spencer Collection's holdings of Oriental books, manuscripts, and scrolls contain a wealth of folklore-related material from China, Japan,

-------------------------------------------- page 199
India, Arabia, and other countries. The Indian materials dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries are written in Sanskrit or Hindi, and finely illustrated by artists of the Rajasthani, Punjabi, Kangra, and other schools. Japanese scrolls, books, and manuscripts in the collection excel in imaginative folklore; examples are a 1587 scroll entitled Zegaib[omacr ] emaki, illustrated with impressionistic and humorous sketches of a Tengu (a dweller of the forest, winged, beaked, and clawed, belonging neither to heaven nor to hell), a printed version of The Story of the Fox of 1650, and a seventeenth-century scroll of demons roaming the streets at night.

The Prints Division has always emphasized imagerie populaire. A colorful group of Chinese New Year's pictures of ethnographic significance hail from many different provinces.