Oral history interviews with Henry Bascom Collins, Jr.,
1985
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 9528
Creators:
Collins, Henry Bascom, 1899- interviewee
Dates:
1985
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
7 audiotapes (reference copies). 14 digital .mp3 files (reference copies).
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted by researchers or student on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Collins was interviewed for the Oral History Collection because of his long and distinguished career as an anthropologist and his role as a Smithsonian administrator.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
Collins was interviewed on four occasions in 1985 by Pamela M. Henson for the Smithsonian Archives Oral History Program. The interviews cover Collins' youth, education, career at the Smithsonian from field worker to acting director of the BAE, anthropological research, directorship of the Ethnogeographic Board, role in the Arctic Institute and Arctic Bibliography, as well as reminscences of colleagues such as Matthew W. Stirling and Neil M. Judd.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Henry Bascom Collins, Jr., was born in 1899 in Geneva, Alabama. Upon receiving the B.A. in geology from Millsaps College in 1922, he traveled to Washington, D. C., to secure a field work position with geologist and Secretary of the Smithsonian, Charles D. Walcott. Collins joined instead the archeological field party exploring Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, under the leadership of Smithsonian anthropologist, Neil M. Judd, thus beginning a sixty-five year career in anthropology. Collins worked for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1923, but returned to the Smithsonian as aide in the Division of Ethnology, United States National Museum (USNM), from 1924 to 1925. After receiving his M.A. in anthropology from the George Washington University in 1925, Collins was appointed Assistant Curator of Ethnology, USNM. He advanced to Associate Curator in 1938 but the following year transferred to the Smithsonian's other anthropological unit, the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE), as Senior Ethnologist. He served as acting Director of the BAE from 1963-1965, overseeing its dissolution and merger into the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). He was Senior Scientist in the department from 1965-1966, and upon retirement, continued his research as archeologist emeritus until his death in 1987.
Collins' first exposure to archeological investigations was in the Southwest assisting Judd. When he began his own research, he shifted focus to Southeast prehistory, especially pottery types found in mounds. In 1927, however, Smithsonian physical anthropologist, Ales Hrdlicka sent his aide, T. Dale Stewart, and Collins on a field trip to Alaska. Fascinated by the area, Collins devoted the next sixty years to the study of Eskimo prehistory. He was noted for his innovative interpretation of cultural sequences, based especially on his excavations at the Eskimo village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. In 1936, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences for this work. During World War II, he served as Director of the Ethnogeographic Board, an interagency liaison group which facilitated communications between academics and the military. Following the war, he was instrumental in establishing the Arctic Institute of North America, and from 1947 to 1967 served as Chairman of the committee responsible for producing the Arctic Bibliography.

Notes
Oral Histories

Using the Collection
Prefered Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9528, Oral history interviews with Henry Bascom Collins, Jr.
Access Restriction
(1) Restricted; (2) see finding aid for details on restrictions.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Collins, Henry Bascom, 1899-1987 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hrdlička, Aleš, 1869-1943 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Judd, Neil Merton, 1887-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stewart, T. D. (Thomas Dale), 1901-1997 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stirling, Matthew Williams, 1896-1975 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Henson, Pamela M. interviewer Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ethnogeographic Board (Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arctic Institute of North America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bureau of American Ethnology. Department of Anthropology (NMNH) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Division of Ethnology (NMNH) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Department of Anthropology (NMNH) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Anthropology Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arctic Bibliography Title Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Anthropology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archaeology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum curators -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Transcripts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu