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William Armand Lessa papers, 1927-1984, bulk 1930-1970

Lessa, William Armand
Baker, George W
Boxer, C.R
Bryan, Edwin H
Coolidge, Harold J
De Young, John
Diffie, Bailey
Draper, George
Gladwin, Thomas
Goodenough, Ward H
Hooton, Earnest Albert
Meighan, Clement W
Neyret, J Father
Pyle, Leilani
Riesenberg, Saul H
Shapiro, Harry Lionel
Simon, Gwladys
Walter, William J
Whalen, Richard V
Yamalmai, Pedro
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Constitution Clinic
Twentieth Century-Fox
bulk 1930-1970
Collection descriptions
Journals (accounts)
Field notes
Lecture notes
Reading notes
Physical anthropology forms
Psychological tests
Census records
Movie scripts
Financial records
Printed materials
Physical Description
11 linear feet (25 boxes)
William Armand Lessa (1908-1997) completed his A.B. at Harvard University in 1928 under Earnest Hooton. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1941 and 1947 respectively. From 1947-1969 he taught at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Subseries-level finding aid available from the repository and via the website of the National Anthropological Archives.
Arranged into 21 series: (1) Forms relating to the study of Jewish immigrants in Boston, 1928; (2) Materials relating to the Hooton study of American criminals (includes photographs and critique of the study that was Lessaʹs masterʹs thesis), 1928 and 1943; (3) forms relating to the anthropometric study of Italian families in New Jersey and Massachusetts, 1927-1929; (4) correspondence relating to work at the Constitution Clinic, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, 1929-1930; (5) materials relating to the study of Hawaiian-Chinese and Chinese, 1930-1932; (6) photographs of archeological work, 1935-1940 (7) materials relating to Ulithi, 1940-1959; (8) scripts and clippings relating to Twentieth Century-Fox film projects, 1951; (9) materials concerning body divination (somatomancy), mostly 1950s; (10) materials concerning Mapia and the Carolines, mostly 1950s; (11) studies of ethnobotany and ethnozoology of the Carolines, 1940s-1960s; (12) material relating to Ulithi, 1960; (13) Ulithian folklore research, 1960; (14) material relating to Ulithi, 1960- ; (15) materials relating to Caroline martial arts (bwang); (16) materials relating to Samoa, 1962; (17) material relating to the Isles of Sequeiras, 1974-1979; (18) materials relating to Drakeʹs Island, 1974-1975; (19) biographical and bibliographical file; (20) unpublished articles, papers, and lectures; (21) lecture notes (Peoples of the Pacific and Comparative Religion)
These papers reflect the professional life of William Armand Lessa (1908-1997), social anthropologist, author and professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Included in the collection are journals of expeditions, correspondence, fieldnotes, notes, photographs, maps, charts, financial records, publications and lecture materials covering the period from 1928 to the 1980s. Most of the materials, however, are dated between 1930 and 1970. Of primary interest is Lessa's ethnographic work in the Pacific, specifically the Caroline Islands and especially Ulithi Atoll, conducted between 1947 and 1960, at first under the auspices of the United States Navy, Office of Naval Research and later the National Academy of Sciences, Pacific Science Board. Much of this material is in the form of fieldnotes, photographs, census information and copies of resulting publications. Lessa's objective was to complete a thorough ethnographic study of Ulithi with special attention to demography and to explore the effects of American administration and culture contact with natives of the atoll. Other documents relate to a variety of projects including Lessa's studies of human constitution, body divination (somatomancy), Carolinian ethnobotany and folklore, and investigations of the Isles of Sequeiras and "Island of thieves" completed in the 1970s.
Cite as
Papers of William Armand Lessa, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland
Data Source
National Anthropological Archives
Carolina Islands
Caroline Islands