As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed to the public as of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures
Committee on Fair Employment Practices
27 linear feet (63 document boxes and 1 oversized box)
Restrictions & Rights
The collection is open for research. The nitrate negatives in this collection have been separated from the collection and stored offsite. Access to nitrate negatives is restricted due to preservation concerns
Indians of North America Northeast
Indians of North America Great Plains
The revision of the collection finding aid and digitization of portions of the collection were made possible through the financial support of the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund.
Ruth Landes was trained in sociology at New York University (B.A., 1928); social work at the New York School of Social Work, Columbia University (M.S.W., 1929); and anthropology at Columbia University under Franz Boas and, mainly, Ruth Benedict (Ph.D., 1935).
Landes was a self-described student and champion of minority groups. Her entry into anthropology was brought about through her interest in the African Americans of New York and, especially, her study of Black Jews of Harlem, a rement left from Garveyism. Under the influence of Benedict during and immediately following her student years, she focused her primary interests on more traditional anthropological study. Between 1932 andf 1936, she undertook field work with the Ojibwa of Ontario and Minnesota, the Santee Dakota in Minnesota, and the Potatwatomi in Kansas. Social organization was a primary interest with all three Indian groups. With the Ojibwa, Landes was also interested in the Midewiwin and the life of Ojibwa women. In 1962, she returned to Kansas and resumed her study of the Potawatomi. In 1938-1939, she worked in Brazil mainly studying the women-led and, to a much lesser extent, homosexual-led cults (candomble) among the African-Brazilian population of Bahia . She returned to Brazil in 1966 to study the effects of urban development in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1939, back in the United States, Landes became a researcher for Gunnar Myrdal's study of the plight of African Americans. In 1941, she became research director for the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs. In 1941-1945, she was the representative for African American and Mexican American Affairs on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Committee on Fair Employment Practices. At the same time, she began to study the Acadians of Louisiana; and, in 1948-1951, she was study director of the American Jewish Commission in New York. In 1949-1951, she was a consultant on Jewish families of New York for Ruth Benedict's Research in Contemporary Cultures. In 1950-1952, Landes undertook studies of the colored immigrants into the United Kingdom.
During 1946-1947 and again in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Landes lived in California and became involved through several consultantships with people of Latin American descent. At the same time, she became interested in education and the processes and effects of aging. In 1968, she began a long period of study of bilingualism and biculutralism that developed from her interest in Quebec nationalis in Canada. The project took her to Spain and Nevada to study Basques, to Switzerland to examine the four language groups there, and to South Africa where she studied the interaction of Africans, English-speakers, and Afrikaans-speakers. During this period, she resumed interest in the Acadians of Louisiana in 1963.
Until 1965, Landes's institutional affiliations consisted of fairly short-term appointments. In addition to some of the more important ones mentioned above, she was an instructor at Brooklyn College in 1937 and at Fisk University in 1937-1938. She was a lecturer at the William Alanson White Psyciatric Institution in New York in 1953-1954 and at the New School for Social Research in 1953-55. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kansas in 1957 and at the University of Southern California in in 1957-1965. In 1959-1962, she was visitng professor and director of the anthropology and education program at the Claremont Graduate School. She was an extension lecturer at Columbia University and at Los Angeles State College in 1963, a visiting professor at Tulane University during the early months of 1964 and at the University of Kansas in the summer of 1964. Her association with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, began in 1965 and continued after 1977 with her appointment as professor emerita.
Electronic finding aid available via the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA).
Addl. KW Subjects
Collection is organized into 6 series: (1) Correspondence, 1931-1991; (2) Research Materials, circa 1930s-1990; (3) Writings, circa 1930s-1990; (4) Teaching Materials, 1935-1975, undated; (5) Biographical and Personal Files, 1928-1988; (6) Graphic Materials, 1933-1978, undated
Most of Ruth Landes's papers relate directly or indirectly to Landes's American Indian research, her work in Brazil, and her study of bilingualism. There is also a considerable amount of material that relates to her experiences (sometimes fictionalized) at Fisk University. There is only small smount of material related to her other interests. Her collection also has material of and relating to the Brazilian folklorist and journalist Edison Carneiro. There is also noteworth materialy concerning Herbert Baldus, Ruth Benedict, Elmer C. Imes, Charles S. Johnson, and Robert E. Park. There is a large amount of printed and processed materials in the collection, mainly in the form of newspaper clippins and a collection of scholarly papers.
Ruth Landes papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland