Ruth Fulton Benedict Papers

I’m pleased to let you know that a large portion of American anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s professional and personal papers are now freely available online. These have been made available by Alexander Street Press via one of their open access initiatives Anthropology Commons.

You can access the Ruth Fulton Benedict Papers via the Databases A-Z list or via the Anthropology database list.

Ruth Benedict Ruth Fulton Benedict (1887-1948) was one of the first women to make major contributions to the study of anthropology and also helped to popularise the subject for wider audiences. A student of Franz Boas, she later became colleagues and close friends with Margaret Mead.

Having completed her PhD at Columbia University, Benedict remained there for the rest of her career eventually being promoted to full professor in the Faculty of Political Science, the first woman to achieve such status.

Benedict’s most well known publication was the book Patterns of Culture, published in 1934 and a best seller. A study and comparison of three socieities – the Zuni of the southwestern United States, the Kwakiutl of western Canada, and the Dobuans of Melanesia – it is seen as an indispensable work in the study of culture. The Library has both the 1935 edition (first UK edition) and a 1961 reprint.

Approximately 8,000 pages from the Benedict archive (held at the Vassar College Archive) have been made available on open access through Alexander Street Press. This includes notes from various field expeditions, including trips with the Pima, Serrano and Zuni throughout the 1930s and some personal papers, including correspondence with Franz Boas.

[Screenshot of] Skin Shifter in Ruth Fulton Benedict Papers, of Vassar College. Libraries. Archives and Special Collections Library ([Box 96]: Serrano Field Trip Notes) (1925) , 2 page(s)

You can access this fascinating archive via the Databases A-Z list or the Anthropology database list.

This resource is Open Access so access is freely available.

Caroline Stirling – Academic Support Librarian for School of Social and Political Science

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