Scope and Contents
This collection consists of 4.3 cubic feet of manuscript, print, and photographic materials created or collected by Carl de Wendler-Funaro (1898-1985) in pursuit of his interest in Gypsy life and culture. (Carlos de Wendler-Funaro used several forms of his name; he wrote mostly as Carl de Wendler-Funaro.) The -collection was brought to the attention of the Division of Community Life, National Museum of American History, by Matt T. Salo and donated to the Smithsonian by Dr. de Wendler-Funarol's widow, Cornelia de Funaro, in May 1985, through Richard E. Ahlborn, Curator.
The number and breadth of the photographic materials, especially, the accompanying documentation and their representation of many Gypsy groups in a single time period, make this collection an important resource for research.
Print and Manuscript Materials
The print and manuscript materials in the collection are organized-into six series: (1) materials for which Carl de Wendler-Funaro is author, co-author or editor; (2) materials about de Wendler-Funaro; (3) correspondence; (4) journals, books, or extracts from them, by various authors; (5) newspaper and magazine articles; (6) photomechanical images from newspapers, magazines, and books.
The manuscript materials include drafts of portions of planned books, reading notes, and Gypsy language notes and transcriptions. De Wendler-Funaro seems to have planned two books. One was to have been a book of his photographs, with accompanying essays describing his encounters with Gypsies, the other a work on Gypsies, especially those in the United States. The major element of the second book was to have been the history of the Rom in this country as told by Steve Kaslov. The second work was to have included the manuscripts, 'The Last Caravan,' on Romnichels in the United States; 'Romanian Gypsies in Maspeth Village,' on the Ludar; 'Hungarian Gypsies,' orx these musicians in the United States; and some folk tale materials. Several outlines for the two books are in the collection.
The draft materials written with Steve Kaslov include an account of the Gypsy leader Chaiko Jura. The account, which seems to approach legend at some points, describes his immigration to the United States, adventures in this country, and death. Also among the draft materials, and intended to follow in the proposed book, is what may be termed an official biography of Steve Kaslov (c. 1888-1949). Apparently tentatively entitled "The Ways of my People,' the manuscript recounts a few incidents, told at length, in the experiences of Kaslov's family and social network from about 1900 to about 1938.
De Wendler-Funaro's notes suggest that the Kaslov biography was dictated to an unnamed lawyer in the early 1930s and given to de Wendler-Funaro in 1934. Kaslov dictated the story of Chaiko to de Wendler-Funaro. (Perhaps this is the source of a statement in the
New York Sun
, June 20, 1941, that Kaslov had written two books.)
The okaslov manuscripts' are written mostly in a variety of American English common among American Rom. Parts of the biographical section are written in the first person, others in the third. Cultural material includes descriptions of weddings, funerary ritual, business transactions, conflicts and conflict resolution. As factual sources the manuscripts are unreliable: dates, for example, are only very approximate; birth places for Steve Kaslov and his family are incorrect.
Evidence in the manuscripts indicates that de Wendler-Funaro hoped, through 1976, to publish these texts in some form. Apparently Kaslov made a first attempt to publish in 1940, when he sent a draft to Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt sent the manuscript on to George Bye, a literary agent, who returned it in 1941 as unpublishable, calling it a Oterribly disorganized manuscript .... [Kaslov] is now working with a doctor (de Wendler-Funarol who claims to be an author but the results are very unhappy' (Correspondence in FDR Library).
Correspondence in the collection (series 3) includes letters to and from de Wendler-Funaro; drafts of letters by Steve Kaslov, soliciting aid for Gypsy education; and correspondence between the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Mexico, and the U.S. Department of State. According to Mrs. de Funaro, Carl de Wendler-Funaro destroyed his other correspondence before his death.
Many of the books, journals, articles, and extracts in the collection (series 4)- are materials upon which de Wendler-Funarol's dissertation is based. They include typed transcriptions of published articles as well as printed matter; dates of the materials range from 1554 to 1979.
The collection includes about 2,000 photoprints, including multiple copies, and 2,000 negatives. These materials are organized into eleven series: (7) photographs by de Wendler-Funaro: Gypsies in the United States; (8)photographs by de Wendler-Funaro: Gypsies outside the United States; (9) heirloom photographs'; (10) photographs by other creators; (11) photographs ;rom commercial agencies; (12) photographs of non-Gypsies; (13) photocopies, of numbered photos, in numerical order; (14) negatives; (15) contact sheets made from negatives from by the Smithsonian Office of Printing and Photographic Services, 1986; (16) scrapbook sheets; (17) slides made from negatives and prints by the Smithsonian Office of Printing and Photographic. services, 1986.
The original photographs by Carlos de Wendlet-Funaro span the,period 1922 to 1966, but the majority were taken from about 1932 to about 1942. More than half the photographs are of the Rom group of Gypsies in the United States, and most of these were taken in New York City from about 1938 to about 1942. Other original photos by de Wendler-Funaro are of other Gypsy groups in the United States -- Ludar, Romnichels, 'Black Dutch,w and Hungarian musicians -- as well as of Gypsies in Mexico, Holland, Germany, Austria, France, England, and Hungary. Photographs by other creators include copies of portraits collected from Gypsy families, photos by other photographers, and commercial news photographs collected by de Wendler-Funaro.
De Wendler-Funaro seems to have used the photographs to gain access to Gypsy families and communities (many photos show Gypsies examining albums and sets of pictures). Some photographs were published in his 1937 article, and in two articles by Victor Weybright (1938a, 1938b). De Wendler-Funaro apparently also used lantern slides made from these photographs in lectures on the subject of Gypsies; a handbill advertising his availability on the lecture circuit is part of the collection.
Manuscript drafts for book outlines, introductions, and accompanying essays show that de Wendler-Funaro long nurtured hopes of publishing a popular tool-, 'Incorporating his photographs. To this end he numbered and captioned more than a hundred of these; a partial list of captions is part of the manuscript files. For the most part, the captions are not very helpful in understanding Gypsy cultures. Photocopies of these pictures with captions, in numerical order, are in box 8. With some exceptions, most of the photographs can be used to study costume, personal ornament, and kinesics; these will not be listed separately as subjects in the inventory. The photos of the Rom in New York City show several types of traditional costume, contemporary modish dress, and a wide range of variations on both. Taken together with the "heirloom photos' collected from the same group, they show change and variety in men's and women's dress.
In the photographs of individuals and groups one may compare, for example, sitting positions of women with relation to costume and use (or non-use) of chairs.
Most of the photographs of Rom taken in New York City show Gypsies relaxing on stoops or in the street during the summer, a common pastime in their neighborhoods. They contain little culturally specific information other than that discussed above.
Information on housing is most clearly represented in photographs of camps, in which the type of tent and, to some extent, the relationships of tents, are visible. All the tents shown appear to be commercially made. Since it was the practice to raise the tent walls in good weather, many photos also show tent interiors, with wooden platform floors used on non-grassy sites (Rom) or linoleum as a ground cloth (Romnichel). The use of featherbeds; either alone (Rom) or with bedsteads (Romnichel) is documented.
There are few photographs showing the use of interior space in urban storefront or apartment dwellings (Rom). The photographs taken in the Maspeth, Long Island, 'Gypsy village' show exteriors of the shacks built@by the Ludar.
Of cooking and heating equipment, the cast-iron or sheet-metal stoves of the Romnichels are most evident. The Rom are shown using a variety of equipment, the traditional trivet (Mexico), the Coleman-type camp stove (U.S), and the pot-bellied coal stove (New York City).
Photographs of autos and trucks, auto-drawn luggage trailers (Romnichels in the North), and horse-drawn wagons (by the horse and mule trading Romnichels in the South) reveal something of the transport of people and goods.
A few photographs show subjects at work, but most work pictures are static demonstrations or mere associations with productive enterprise. There are demonstrations of coppersmithing and fender repair work (Rom), and manufacture of rustic furniture (Romnichels), as well as posed demonstrations of palm-reading. Romnichels in the South are shown posing with horses and mules. The business that appears most frequently is fortune-telling, through photographs of roadside business tents (Romnichel); amusement, fair, and resort-area tents and stands (Rom); and canvas facades, banners and signs carrying the fortune-teller's message.
Ritual life is poorly represented in the photographs. There are some photos of a funeral procession, and one interior shot of a funeral; two photos of a saint's-day feast; one of a memorial feast; and one set taken in preparation for Christmas festivities. Curiously, there are no photographs of Rom weddings. The dearth of pictures of rituals and celebrations, which form so important a part of Rom life, may be due to difficulties with interior lighting.
Because of internal and other inconsistencies, exact dating of the photographs is often difficult. Discrepancies of as much as ten year occur in some of the dates in de Wendler-Funaro's notes.