National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Papers of John Peabody Harrington, 1907-1957

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John P. Harrington, Courtesy Smithsonian Institution


(Microfilm Edition)

Smithsonian Institution

Descriptive and ordering information at

John Peabody Harrington (1884–1961) was an American linguist and ethnologist who dedicated his life to recording the lives and languages of the Native American tribes in California whose cultures faded as their numbers dwindled. This is a comprehensive edition of more than 750,000 documents – the largest collection of anthropological field notes ever seen at the Smithsonian.  The papers include extensive information on tribal boundaries, local geography, folklore, ceremonies, music, ethnobiology, and material culture. The collection includes documentation on over 130 languages, many of which are now highly endangered or no longer actively spoken.  J. P. Harrington carried out his research in much of North America during the first half of the 20th century. The majority of the collection represents ethnological and linguistic fieldwork in California and with Native people in the Southwest, Great Plains, and Alaska. J. P. Harrington’s research also extended into southern Mexico, across much of Canada, and along the eastern coast of the United States.

504 reels in 10 parts


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