- Collection ID:
Rankin, Robert Louis, 1939-
1886, 1914, 1956-2011
Materials are primarily in
. A number of American Indian language materials appear in the collection in notes, field notes, and sound recordings. The most prominent are
. The collection also contains notes, field notes, and sound recordings in
and related dialects.
- Physical Description:
31.77 Linear feet
55 boxes, 1 map folder
The Robert Rankin papers, 1886, 1914, 1956-2011, document his field work, research, and professional activities, primarily in relation to his work studying American Indian languages. Rankin was professor of linguistics at the University of Kansas from 1969 until his retirement in 2005. The collection consists of sound recordings, field notebooks, vocabulary lists and bibliographies, dictionaries, research files, slip files, word lists, correspondence, ephemera, notes, readings and reprints, writings, drafts, and teaching materials. This includes materials from Rankin's work with the last native speakers of the Quapaw and Kaw (Kansa, Kanza) languages and subsequent research, writings, and collaborations with tribes and fellow linguists.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Robert Rankin papers, 1886, 1914, 1956-2011, document his field work, research, and professional activities, primarily in relation to his work studying American Indian languages. The collection includes sound recordings, field notebooks, vocabulary lists and bibliographies, dictionaries, research files, slip files, word lists, correspondence, ephemera, notes, readings and reprints, writings, drafts, and teaching materials.
The 196 sound recordings include material from Rankin's work with the last native speakers of both the Quapaw and Kaw (Kansa, Kanza) languages. The collection includes extensive research on these languages along with research on other facets of the Siouan language family. Rankin's close collaboration with colleagues and tribes is well documented, especially his work with linguists John E. Koontz and W.L. Ballard, as well as his contributions to language documentation efforts including the
Handbook of North American Indians
Annotated Dictionary of Kaw (Kanza)
, and the
Comparative Siouan Dictionary
. The collection also includes sound recordings and notes from Rankin's study of the Romanian language as part of his graduate study.
The Robert Rankin papers are arranged in 9 series: Series 1. Quapaw, 1972-1991, undated; Series 2. Kaw (Kansa, Kanza), circa 1970-2011, undated; Series 3. Field notebooks, 1981-1983, 1995, undated; Series 4. Subject and correspondence files, 1886, 1956-2007, undated; Series 5. Conferences and professional associations, 1974-2010; Series 6. Writings, 1975-2010, undated; Series 7. Teaching and academic files, 1973-2006, undated; Series 8. Romanian study, 1914, 1962-1972, undated; Series 9. Sound recordings, 1963-1987, undated.
Graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Romance Languages
Fulbright Fellowship in Romania researching Romanian dialects
M.A. in Linguistics, University of Chicago
Started at the University of Kansas as an Acting Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Chicago
Became an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Kansas
Language work with the Quapaw
Began work with the Kaw (Kansa, Kanza) language that continued for the rest of his life
Became a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Kansas
Retired from the University of Kansas
Robert Rankin was a professor of linguistics at the University of Kansas who spent the majority of his career working with American Indian languages in the Siouan language family. He began his career studying romance languages as part of his undergraduate and graduate work and completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Romania (1966-1968) examining regional linguistic differences. He began teaching at the University of Kansas in 1969 and was introducted to the Choctaw language in Summer 1972 while teaching a field methods course. He became fascinated with American Indian languages and started working with the remaining native speakers of the Quapaw tribe in early 1973. When there were no more native speakers left, he started working with the Kaw (Kansa, Kanza) language. When he began this research in 1973-1974, there were only four fluent speakers of Kaw (Kansa, Kanza) left. He continued studying the language until well after his retirement from the University of Kansas in 2005. Rankin died on February 24, 2014 in Kansas City, MO.
Sources consulted: "Robert L. Rankin obituary," Lawrence Journal-World, March 1-5, 2014 http://obituaries.ljworld.com/obituaries/ljworld/obituary.aspx?pid=169905179
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Digitization and preparation of sound recordings for online access has been funded through generous support from the Arcadia Fund.
The papers of Robert Rankin were received loosely labeled by topic, but required extensive rearrangement during processing to deliniate series. Files were mostly well labeled and original file titles were maintained throughout the majority of the collection. This includes Rankin's file titles regarding American Indian languages and tribes, however the archivist used standardized names for tribes and languages in the front matter and notes.
Sound recordings 075-076 were discovered to be copies of other material, so these numbers no longer exist in this collection.
Processed and encoded by Katie Duvall, 2016
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was transferred to the National Anthropological Archives by Robert Rankin's wife, Carolyn Rankin, in 2014.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Conditions Governing Access
The Robert Rankin papers are open for research.
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Computer disks are currently restricted due to preservation concerns.
Access to the Robert Rankin papers requires an appointment.
Robert Rankin papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Word final high vowels in Rumanian: problems in synchronic and diachronic dialectology.
- with J. R. Swanton. 2002.
An Ofo grammar sketch. [Kansas]: University of Kansas.
- with Cumberland, Linda A. 2012.
Kaanze Ie Wayaje: an Annotated Dictionary of Kaw (Kanza).
- n.d. "The Unmarking of Quapaw Phonology: A Study of Language Death".
Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics.
- with Richard T. Carter, Willem de Reuse, Randolph Graczyk, A. Wesley Jones, John E. Koontz, David S. Rood, Patricia A. Shaw, and Paul Voorhis. "Comparative Siouan Dictionary." Comparative Siouan Dictionary. Accessed November 17, 2016. http://csd.clld.org/.
National Anthropological Archives
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746