Scope and Contents
The papers of Laura Thompson reflect the professional and personal life of an active and pioneering anthropologist. In the 1930s, Thompson began her work in applied anthropology, producing studies of Fiji, Guam and Hawaii intended to aid administrators of economic, educational and political development and pioneering approaches now known as "administrative" and "educational" anthropology. In the 1940s, Thompson applied her skills to the Indian Personality, Education and Administration Research Project, a study of eleven communities of five Native American tribes. From the 1950s until the end of her career, Thompson sought to formulate and demonstrate a theoretical anthropological synthesis of man and culture, while pursuing fieldwork in Iceland and Germany, teaching, and consulting for numerous institutions.
Included in this collection are field diaries, numerous manuscripts and lectures, research materials, correspondence, sound recordings and ethnographic photographs. Also included are various subject and index files maintained by Thompson for her many research projects. The collection is particularly rich in unpublished manuscripts that Thompson created from 1950 to the mid 1990s. Manuscript topics include particular field sites, such as Fiji and West Germany, as well as Thompson's critical and theoretical exposition regarding the future of applied anthropology, variously titled "Clinical" and "Holistic Anthropology."
Numerous materials pertaining to Thompson's personal life are also located in the collection, including personal diaries and professional awards, correspondence with friends and family, and personal photographs of Thompson from infancy to old age. Located in Thompson's personal papers are her writings from late in life, in which she addressed aging through her anthropological sensibilities, recorded formative memories from her youth, and projected the future of a world rife with injustice and environmental destruction. A large portion of the Laura Thompson papers include documents from the Indian Personality, Education and Administration (IPEA) Project, initiated by the Office of Indian Affairs and the University of Chicago Committee on Human Development. This investigation of five Native American tribes includes the results of over 1000 psychological studies of native children. Materials included encompass the protocols for and implementation of the project, as well as field reports, psychological tests, correspondence, worker supervision reports and final analyses of findings. Included is a copy of the project's published final report, Personality and Government (1951). The bulk of the records date between 1941and 47; related material spans as late as 1992. Correspondents primarily include project members and consultants, particularly: John Collier, A. I. Hallowell, Maud Hallowell, Royal Hassrick, Robert Havinghurst, Alice Joseph, Bruno Klopfer, Clyde Kluckhohn, Dorothea Leighton, D'Arcy McNickle, Trude Schmidl-Waehner, Heinrich Schultz, Ruth Underhill, and W. Lloyd Warner. The papers of the IPEA Project are restricted in use.
Additional material in the NAA relating to the IPEA Research Project can be found in the following collections: Indian Personality and Administration Research Project Papers, donated by Robert J. Havighurst, and the Dorothea Cross Leighton papers. A list of publications resulting from findings of the project can be found in the Thompson collection accession folder.
Nearly absent from the collection are materials reflecting Thompson's fieldwork in Hawaii, her marriages to Bernhard Tüting and John Collier, and manuscripts of her early publications.
Correspondents in Thompson's papers include: Ruth BENEDICT, Charles W. COLLIER, John COLLIER, Malcolm COLLIER, Cora DUBOIS, Fred EGGAN, Alfred EMERSON, Kenneth EMORY, Frederick V. FIELD, Roland W. FORCE, Derek FREEMAN, Ann Pinson GILL, Peggy GOLDE, A. I. HALLOWELL, Maude HALLOWELL, Royal HASSRICK, Robert HAVINGHURST, Alice JOSEPH, Felix KEESING, Lawrence KELLY, Bruno KLOPFER, Clyde KLUCKHOHN, A. L. KROEBER, Harry S. LADD, Bruno LASKER, Dorothy LEE, Dorothea LEIGHTON, Charles F. LOOMIS, Katherine LOUMALA, Robert H. LOWIE, John R. MACCORMACK, Bronislaw MALINOWSKI, D'Arcy MCNICKLE, Margaret MEAD, Robert REDFIELD, Trude SCHMIDL-WAEHNER, Heinrich SCHULTZ, Leslie SPIER, George D. SPINDLER, Rebecca STEVENSON, Ratu J. L. V. SUKUNA (District Commissioner of Lau), Alfred TOZZER, W. Lloyd WARNER and Alvin WOLFE.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.