Guide to the Melford E. Spiro papers, 1943-2003
NAA.2015-04

Summary
Collection ID:
NAA.2015-04
Creators:
Spiro, Melford E.
Dates:
1943-2003, undated
Languages:
Multiple languages
English; Hebrew; Arabic.
Collection is primarily in English. Contains materials written in Hebrew and Arabic.
Physical Description:
9.6 linear feet
(24 boxes)
12 sound recordings
Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
Melford E. Spiro was a psychological anthropologist whose career included fieldwork on the Pacific Atoll of Ifaluk, on kibbutzim in Israel, and in Burma. His research topics included child rearing, cooperation, aggression, and supernatural beliefs. His papers, dated 1943-2003, primarily document these periods of fieldwork in relation to these topics. The collection consists of field notes, personality data and analysis, photographs, interview tapes and transcriptions, ephemera, subject card files, and research files. It also includes limited material related to his teaching and writings in the form of course outlines and research, lecture notes, annotated articles, drafts, and book reviews.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The Melford E. Spiro papers, 1943-2003, primarily document his periods of field work on the Ifaluk Atoll, on kibbutzim in Israel, and in Burma. The collection consists of field notes, personality data and analysis, photographs, interview tapes and transcriptions, ephemera, subject card files, and research files. It also includes limited material related to his teaching and writings in the form of course outlines and research, lecture notes, annotated articles, drafts, and book reviews.
The collection includes a great deal of the data Spiro collected at all three field sites, including Rorschach and Thematic Apperception tests (TAT) and the subsequent analysis, sentence completions, drawings by children, and autobiographies of informants. The majority of the interview transcriptions and questionnaires in the collection are from Israel and are written in Hebrew. Translations in English do not exist within this collection. The photographs include black-and-white snapshots of people and landscapes on Ifaluk and color slides taken in Burma and other locations in Southeast Asia.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged in 4 series: Series 1. Ifaluk, 1947-1988, undated; Series 2. Israel, 1951-1981, undated; Series 3. Burma, 1943-1978, undated; Series 4. Teaching and writing, 1953-2003, undated.

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Chronology
1920 April 26
Melford Spiro born in Ohio
circa 1942
BA Philosophy, University of Minnesota
circa 1942
Studied at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York
1947-1948
Field work in Ifaluk (Caroline Islands atoll)
1950
PhD in Anthropology, Northwestern University
1950
Start of field work in Israel
1950-1957
Taught at Washington University, St. Louis, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Washington
1957
Began teaching at the University of Chicago
1961-1962
Field work in Burma
1968
Started at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as a founding member of the Anthropology department
1968-1972
Chair of the Anthropology department at UCSD
1969-1972
Summers: Worked with Burmese refugees in Thailand
1975
Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1982
Appointed UCSD's first holder of the Presidential Chair
1982
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
1990
Retired from UCSD
2014 October 18
Died in La Jolla, CA
Melford E. Spiro was a psychological anthropologist whose career included fieldwork on the Pacific Atoll of Ifaluk, on kibbutzim in Israel, and in Burma. His research topics included child rearing, cooperation, aggression, and supernatural beliefs. He was renowned for his “careful, insightful, and insistent emphasis upon motivational and psychological underpinnings of human behavior…and upon the need to take them into account in cross-cultural analysis.” (Jordan)
While a PhD student at Northwestern University, Spiro was introduced to psychological anthropology by A. Irving Hallowell, who became a lifelong mentor and friend. After receiving his PhD in 1950, he went on to teach at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Universities of Connecticut, Washington, and Chicago before becoming the founding chair of the anthropology department at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 1968. He recruited the department’s first faculty members in 1969 including Roy D’Andrade, Marc J. Swartz, Theodore Schwartz, Robert I. Levy, David K. Jordon, and Joyce Bennett Justus. Spiro also received training in psychoanalysis after arriving in San Diego and practiced as a lay analyst while establishing links to the medical school to provide anthropology graduate students with general psychiatric training.
Spiro served terms as president of the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Psychological Anthropology (SPA). He was one of the founders of
Ethos
, the SPA’s journal. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships and an Einstein Fellowship from the Israel Academy of Science. He also received an Excellence-in-Teaching award from the Chancellor’s Associates at UCSD based on his mentoring of anthropology graduate students.
Sources consulted: Jordan, David K. "In Memoriam, Melford E. Spiro." Anthropology News 56, no. 11-12 (December 2015): 26-27.
Avruch, Kevin. "Biographical Memoirs, Melford E. Spiro." National Academy of Sciences. 2015. Accessed April 4, 2016. http://www.nasonline.org/publications/biographical-memoirs/memoir-pdfs/spiro-melford.pdf.

Administration
Processing Information note
Original file titles were retained when possible. When handwriting was indecipherable, titles are followed by a question mark and a copy of the original folder was placed with the material.
Processed and encoded by Katie Duvall, 2016.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Katie Duvall
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Melford Spiro's son, Jonathan Spiro, in 2015.

Selected Bibliography
Selected Bibliography
1952.
Ghosts, Ifaluk, and teleological functionalism
. [Indianapolis]: [Bobbs-Merrill].
1956.
Kibbutz: venture in Utopia
. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
1965.
Children of the kibbutz
. New York: Schocken Books.
1967.
Burmese supernaturalism; a study in the explanation and reduction of suffering
. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
1970.
Buddhism and society; a great tradition and its Burmese vicissitudes
. New York: Harper & Row.
1977.
Kinship and marriage in Burma: a cultural and psychodynamic analysis
. Berkeley: University of California Press.
1979.
Gender and culture: kibbutz women revisited
. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
1997.
Gender ideology and psychological reality: an essay on cultural reproduction.
New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Melford E. Spiro papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Use note
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Conditions Governing Access note
The Melford E. Spiro papers are open for research.
Access to the Melford E. Spiro papers requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

Related Archival Materials note
Film and sound reels have been transferred to the Smithsonian's Human Studies Film Archive, accession number 2016-009.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
University of California, San Diego. Department of Anthropology. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Anthropologists--United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Burma Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ethnology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ethnopsychology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field notes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ifalik Atoll (Micronesia) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Israel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kibbutzim Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographic prints Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Psychological tests Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slides (photographs) Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland , 20746
Phone: 301.238.1300
naa@si.edu