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At a Glance
Field notebooks detailing the customs and ceremonies of the Native American Hopi tribe, collected by Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons, PhD (1874-1941). Thirty of these volumes were the notebooks of Alexander M. Stephen (d. 1894), a U.S. Army officer who, in about 1882, started observing Hopi life. Although chiefly concerned with the Hopis, there are some notes on Hopi-Navajo relations and a few references to the Native American Tewa and Hokya tribes. Stephen's penciled notes and drawings were edited and published by Dr. Parsons as the Hopi journal of Alexander M. Stephen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936). Also included are three unpublished notebooks of observations made by a young American physician with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Jeremiah Sullivan (1850-1916), who lived among the Hopis (1881-1888) in the village of Sichomovi. A letter from anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber, PhD (1876-1960) to Dr. Parsons explains the provenance of one of Sullivan's notebooks. These last three notebooks [Vols. 31-33] have also been attributed to Alexander M. Stephen by Alex Patterson (February 1994). [See, Alex Patterson's full note at subseries I.2. Jeremiah Sullivan (Vols. 31-33).]
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
Readers must use microfilm of materials. Originals restricted due to the extremely fragile condition of the notebooks.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Materials
Columbia University Press records, 1893-2000s, bulk 1923-2000s, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library [MS#0268] (See, folders titled: "Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews" in Series I: Catalogued Correspondence, 1893-1954 (Box CC8) and Subseries II.1 Editorial Files, 1920s-1959 (Box 178)).
The American Philosophical Society holds the Elsie Clews Parsons papers (Mss.Ms.Coll.29)
Alternate Form Available
Most of the notebooks have been published.
Gift of John E. Parsons, 1972.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Parsons, John E. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1972. Accession number--M-72.
Publications About Described Materials
Stephen, Alexander M., Hopi journal of Alexander M. Stephen; edited by Elsie Clews Parsons, PhD (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936)
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 08/--/89.
2020-08-16 Replaced PDF with a structured finding aid containing edited and enhanced description. cml
2020-08-16 Following guidelines outlined in the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, corrected inaccurate Hopílavayi [Hopi] language spellings, and added appropriate cultural identifiers regarding geography. cml
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons (1875-1941) was an anthropologist, sociologist, feminist, and public intellectual. She received her academic training at Barnard College (AB, 1896) and Columbia University (AM, 1897; PhD, 1899).
In regard to her professional research, Dr. Parsons wrote such pioneering feminist sociological investigations as The Family (1906), Religious Chastity (1913, under the pseudonym John Main), The Old Fashioned Woman (1913, as John Main), Fear and Conventionality (1914), Social Freedom (1915), and Social Rule (1916). She also took up the anthropological exploration of Native American tribes and published such studies as the Social Organization of the Tewa of New Mexico (1929), Hopi and Zuni Ceremonialism (1933), Mitla: Town of the Souls (1936), and Pueblo Indian Religion (1939). She also wrote about West Indian and African American folklore. In addition, Dr. Parsons meticulously edited the Hopi journal of Alexander M. Stephen (2 vols., 1936).
Active in several learned societies, Dr. Parsons was president of the American Folklore Society (1919-1920) and for many years associate editor of its journal. She also served as treasurer (1916-1922) and president (1923-1925) of the American Ethnological Society; and as the first woman to be elected president of the American Anthropological Association (1940). Dr. Parsons also helped found the New School for Social Research and lectured at its first session in 1919.