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Anthony Forge Papers
MSS 0411  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Forge, Anthony
    Title: Anthony Forge Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1908-1991
    Extent: 25.30 linear feet (39 archives boxes, 5 records cartons, 1 card file box and 36 oversize folders)
    Abstract: The papers of Anthony Forge, British anthropologist, professor and specialist in the art and aesthetics of the Abelam people of Papua New Guinea, include field notes, photographs and original Abelam art commissioned by Forge during his fieldwork in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, 1958-1963. Also included are writings by Forge, writings of others, research proposals, teaching materials, reel-to-reel audio recordings, films, and documentation of the Wenner-Gren Foundation conferences in Basel, Switzerland (1984) and Mijas, Spain (1986). This collection is arranged in eleven series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) FIELDWORK RESEARCH, PAPUA NEW GUINEA 4) WRITINGS, 5) PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS, 6) RESEARCH PROPOSALS, 7) TEACHING MATERIALS, 8) SUBJECT FILES, 9) MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES, 10) AUDIO/VISUAL MATERIALS, and 11) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0411
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Anthony Forge Papers, MSS 0411. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


    Born in West London, England, on February 27, 1929, Anthony Forge was educated at Highgate School. In 1948 he went on to do national service in Intelligence. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1953, where he studied anthropology under Edmund Leach. After graduation he spent three years in the printing industry, his father's profession, before enrolling in the London School of Economics, where he began graduate studies in anthropology and formed a close and lasting friendship with anthropologist Sir Raymond Firth.
    In 1958, Forge undertook the first of two fieldwork studies among the Abelam people of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. This initial period in the field sharpened his anthropological interests and narrowed his focus to Abelam social organization, aesthetics and ritual. Forge's study methods included photography, daily journals and notes on basic cultural ideals (e.g. kinship, ritual, etc.).
    In 1960, on returning from the field, Forge became a research officer for the London School of Economics "London Kinship Project." A year later he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and in 1962 he returned to Papua New Guinea.
    Forge's second fieldwork investigation (1962 - 1963) with the Abelam centered on the art of the region. He commissioned the production of 363 works of original Abelam art housed in this collection, of which over 150 came from the village of Kwanimbandu in the North Wosera. Much of this original artwork was documented piece by piece as it was being produced, both in field journals (i.e., through sketches and descriptive narrative) and photographically (i.e., sequential photos were taken every 15 - 20 minutes as the work was being created). Many of these photographs were used in Sheila Korn's formal study on the properties of Abelam painting, completed as her thesis: THE STRUCTURE OF AN ART-SYSTEM (University of London, 1974).
    Forge spent a year as a Visiting Professor at Yale University in 1969, and by 1970 he had been appointed Senior Lecturer at the London School of Economics. In 1970 he coauthored a book with Raymond Firth and Jane Hubert entitled, FAMILIES AND THEIR RELATIVES: KINSHIP IN A MIDDLE-CLASS SECTOR OF LONDON. In 1973 Forge completed the editing of PRIMITIVE ART AND SOCIETY, which included a chapter he authored entitled "Style and Meaning in Sepik Art." Soon after, he delivered the prestigious Malinowski Memorial Lecture entitled "The Golden Fleece."
    Subsequently, fieldwork took Forge and his family to Bali for a year to study art and ritual. While on Bali, he was invited to visit the Australian National University and was selected to become the Foundation Professor of Anthropology in the Faculty of the Arts, where he built a strong research and teaching department.
    During the late 1980s, Forge spent much time editing a draft entitled "Sepik Culture History," a collection of papers presented at the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Symposium in 1986. Although this volume was never published, the collection contains Forge's original introduction as well as much of the correspondence (dated 1984-1989) with other potential contributors. Forge also completed an important nine-chapter work titled "Abelam Exchange and Society," which was never published but survives in draft form in this collection.
    Anthony Forge was heavily involved in collecting, most notably for the Museum of Ethnography in Basel, Switzerland, for which he assembled an impressive collection of Sepik art. He also assembled a large collection of traditional Balinese paintings for the Australian Museum in Sydney.
    Anthony Forge died on October 7, 1991.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Anthony Forge Papers contain journals, photoprints, slides, notes, and original artwork from his fieldwork with the Abelam people of Papua New Guinea, 1958 - 1963. Also included in this collection are correspondence, writings by Forge, writings of others, photographs of Sepik art in museum collections, research proposals, audio recordings, and films, as well as material regarding his teaching and professional conferences that he attended. Notably absent from the collection are materials related to Forge's research in London and Bali.
    This series contains photographs of Forge, news clippings, Forge's curriculum vitae (1950-1974), and a three-page document outlining his research interests.
    This series contains correspondence with Forge's colleagues, friends and associates spanning the years 1962 - 1991. Major correspondents include Philip J. C. Dark, Raymond Firth, David Lea, Robert and Wendy MacLennan, Mervyn Meggitt, Michel Panoff, and David M. Schneider. Additional correspondence regarding PRIMITIVE ART AND SOCIETY and other writings may be found in Series 4A.
    The FIELDWORK RESEARCH series is arranged in five subseries: A) Fieldwork Journals, B) Notes, C) Note Card Indexes, D) Abelam Artwork, and E) Maps of Papua New Guinea.
    A) The Fieldwork Journals subseries is arranged by date and contains Forge's daily handwritten entries, including information dealing with village events, conversations, formal interview sessions with informants, financial accounts, and photograph captions for selected rolls of black-and-white and color film in Series 5. The journals document both of Forge's fieldwork sessions in Papua New Guinea, 1958-1959 and 1962-1963.
    B) The second subseries includes loose leaf notes arranged in alphabetical order by subject. This subseries also contains three notebooks that document the original Abelam artwork that Forge commissioned in 1962-1963 (see the Abelam Artwork subseries described below). Information in the notebooks includes a sketch of each painting, notes on design elements, the artist's name, and the date that the art was produced.
    C) The Note Card Indexes subseries contains an Arapesh dictionary, a fieldwork journal subject index for 1958-1959 and a Sepik village index. The fieldwork journal subject index locates occurences of subject terms in the fieldwork journals found in the first subseries. The Sepik village index contains village names with information regarding their inhabitancy, location, whether the village has been mentioned in print, and if so, the citation.
    D) Abelam Artwork, the fourth subseries, contains 363 original paintings and drawings by Abelam artists, commissioned by Forge on his second trip to Papua New Guinea, 1962-1963. The majority of the paintings are arranged numerically according to assigned numbers on the verso of each piece, 1-262 (missing numbers include 53, 231, 234, 237, 239, 242, 243). The production of this group of paintings was documented by Forge in notebooks contained in series 3B and photographs located in subseries 5A and 5D. Forge also analyzed this Abelam artwork in chapter 10 of PRIMITIVE ART AND SOCIETY. Miscellaneous numbered paintings follow the first numbered sequence. These paintings were created in a group of villages in the North Wosera area and are said to represent all of the traditional designs known to every artist in the area at that time. The designs were executed on black or dark gray paper corresponding to the two colors of mud surfaces used by the Abelam and corresponding size to the sago-spathe panels traditionally used. The artists used black, white, red, and yellow ochre tempera colors corresponding to the earth pigments traditionally used. The paint was applied using traditional brushes. Also included in this series are color charcoal drawings and ink drawings.
    E) The Maps of Papua New Guinea subseries contains maps of the areas in which Forge carried out his field studies. Along with regional maps, which date back to 1908, this subseries also contains a language map (1958-59), census and council maps, patrol report maps, and a Catholic missions map (1935).
    The WRITINGS series is arranged in two subseries: A) Writings by Forge and B) Writings of Others.
    A) Writings by Forge are arranged alphabetically by title. Published writings include "The Golden Fleece," PRIMITIVE ART AND SOCIETY, "Style and Stylisation in Sepik Art," "Learning to See in New Guinea" and "Marriage and Exchange in the Sepik: Some Scattered Comments on Francis Korn's Paper." Included among the PRIMITIVE ART AND SOCIETY files is extensive correspondence concerning the book.
    Unpublished works include "Abelam Exchange and Society" (a nine-chapter manuscript), "Art and Society," "Internal Exchange and External Trade in the Sepik," "Problem of Meaning in Art," "Wosera - It's Present Position and Problems," and "Sepik Culture History" (a proposed book containing papers presented at the Mijas Conference sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research in 1986 and edited by Anthony Forge).
    B) The Writings of Others subseries contains reprints and manuscripts sent to Forge by other authors, including Gregory Bateson, Raymond Firth, R.F. Fortune, Phyllis M. Kaberry, Sheila Korn, David A.M. Lea, Margaret Mead, and Rosemary Oxer. Also included in this subseries is one of Gregory Bateson's original field notebooks, which contains design sketches and descriptions. The materials are arranged alphabetically by author.
    The PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS series is arranged in five subseries: A) Fieldwork, Papua New Guinea - Black/White Prints, B) Fieldwork, Papua New Guinea - Color Prints, C) Color Slides, D) Artifacts and Artwork of Papua New Guinea, and E) Miscellaneous Photographic Materials.
    A) Fieldwork, Papua New Guinea - Black/White Prints subseries includes photoprints and contacts of images taken during his fieldwork in the Sepik region, 1958-1963. Photographic negatives are in 35mm and 2 1/4 inch formats. Photos document daily village life, including haus tambaran construction, yam ceremonies and the artwork associated with these events.
    The first group of photoprints in this subseries is arranged by date of fieldwork and numerically by roll and frame number in two sequences, 1958-1959, rolls 2-121, and 1962-1963, rolls 1-58.
    Photoprints contained in the publication arrangement group are enlargements printed from negatives represented in the above fieldwork photos but arranged according to Forge's own publication numbering system. These were originally located in three binders arranged by number (1-196) with no indication of corresponding publication. Forge noted the original roll and frame number on the verso of each photo print and added the roman numeral "II" to indicate rolls taken during the 1962-63 fieldwork session.
    The Abelam painting process photoprints document the production of selected paintings located in the Abelam Artwork subseries of the FIELDWORK RESEARCH series. These sequential photoprints represent commissioned artwork produced during 1962-1963 and include paintings numbered 1-132 only. The photos were taken every 15 -20 minutes during the painting of each piece and document the development of each painting. Negatives for these photoprints are not contained in this collection. Notes and sketches of these paintings are located in subseries 3B. Color photoprints of 1-132 are located in series 5D, numbered artwork.
    The final group of black-and-white photos is arranged alphabetically by subject. The photos depict objects, people and places. Uncategorized photoprints have been placed at the end of the subject groups in order by roll and frame number.
    B) Fieldwork, Papua New Guinea - Color Prints subseries is arranged by year. The color photoprints duplicate slides located in the Color Slides subseries and are described in the caption lists at the beginning of that subseries.
    The color photoprints, arranged by subject, are primarily of building facades, figures and paintings. They were originally contained in a note card box arranged by subject with dividers. Uncategorized prints located in the back of that box have been placed at the end of this grouping.
    The last images in the color photoprints subseries are actually black-and-white copy prints of color prints. They are arranged by roll letter and frame number.
    C) Color Slides subseries was arranged in subject order and assigned numbers by Forge. Included at the beginning of the subseries are typescript lists of slide captions.
    D) Artifacts and Artwork of Papua New Guinea subseries contains color and black-and-white photoprints of collected artwork housed at various museums, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum fur Volkerkunde und Schweizerisches Museum fur Volkskunde. The photos are arranged by museum accession number.
    The numbered artwork photoprints were located in a note card box and arranged numerically from 1-579 (missing numbers include 58, 80, 231, 237, 239, 242, 243, 256, 261, 263-300, 333, 464, 507, 512). These photoprints are believed to have been used by Sheila Korn in her Ph.D. research on Abelam artwork. Not only are the pictures numbered, but in some instances design elements within photos have been assigned numbers. The numbered photos/design elements correspond to the numbered painting examples Sheila Korn used in her analysis. Photos from this file are included in her thesis. Numbers 1-262 are color photoprints of the original Abelam artwork located in subseries 5D. Notes and sketches of numbers 1-262 are located in the Abelam painting notebooks located in subseries 3B. Painting process photoprints of numbers 1-132 are located in subseries 5A.
    The Pukago area artwork photoprints are matted and arranged by number with caption labels included at the bottom of most images. Near the end of this numbered sequence, MacL is inserted before the numbering. The "MacL" photoprints were collected by Robert MacLennan. Documents describing the MacL photoprints and captions follow this group of photoprints.
    E) The Miscellaneous Photographic Materials subseries contains photo prints, contacts, slides, and negatives, all arranged alphabetically. Included in this subseries are aerial photoprints of Papua New Guinea, photographs of family (negatives only) and groups of slides that accompanied lectures. Forge's headings have been retained as folder titles for most of these items, although some may seem cryptic. Unidentified items have been placed at the end of this subseries according to material format.
    Forge's research proposals, dated 1967-1975, are in alphabetical order. All of the proposals are based on research to be conducted in Papua New Guinea.
    Materials include course notes, examinations and syllabi from various courses Forge taught between 1963 and 1984 at institutions in London, Australia and the United States.
    This series contains association membership information, copies made from the archival collections of Gregory Bateson, F.E. Williams and Margaret Mead, material from the "Sepik village-centered maps project" at the Australian National University, a University of Papua New Guinea development plan, and other miscellaneous materials.
    Arranged alphabetically, this series documents Forge's participation in meetings and conferences from 1961-1986, including the Association of Social Anthropologists conference on linguistics and social anthropology (1969), the Ethnic Arts Council of Los Angeles (1978), the Goroka Teachers College Second Papua New Guinea Food Crops Conference (1980), and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research symposiums (1984 and 1986).
    Much of the conference material is associated with the Wenner-Gren sponsored symposiums due to Forge's heavy involvement with this foundation. Materials from the 1984 conference entitled "Sepik Research Today," in Basel, Switzerland, include abstracts, curricula vitae of participants, correspondence, a film document, a publication outline, and reprints of each paper (including Forge's). At the 1986 Wenner-Gren conference, entitled "Sepik Culture History," in Mijas, Spain, Forge was both a participant and the symposium organizer. Materials from this conference include Forge's conference proposal to Wenner-Gren, curricula vitae of participants, correspondence, manuscripts, notes, and reprints. Correspondence regarding Forge's attempt to publish these conference proceedings in a book entitled "Sepik Culture History" is located in the Writings by Anthony Forge subseries in the WRITINGS series, as are his draft introductions, notes and a table of contents. Additional correspondence regarding the Wenner-Gren Foundation is located in the CORRESPONDENCE series.
    A) Audio Tape Collection subseries includes 49 reel-to-reel audio recordings that were made during Forge's field studies in Papua New Guinea.
    B) The Film Collection contains ten 16mm films taken during Forge's field studies in Papua New Guinea. The films have been transferred to VHS format.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Forge, Anthony, -- Archives
    Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
    Anthropologists -- England -- Biography
    Painting, Abelam (Papua New Guinea)
    Abelam (Papua New Guinea people) -- Rites and ceremonies
    Abelam (Papua New Guinea people) -- Religion
    Rites and ceremonies -- Sepik River Valley (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea)
    Art -- Sepik River Valley (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea)
    Ethnology -- Sepik River Valley (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea)
    Ethnology -- Papua New Guinea -- East Sepik Province
    Rites and ceremonies -- Papua New Guinea -- East Sepik Province
    Art -- Papua New Guinea -- East Sepik Province
    Mountain Arapesh language
    Abelam (Papua New Guinea people) -- Social life and customs
    Art, Abelam
    East Sepik Province (Papua New Guinea) -- Social life and customs
    East Sepik Province (Papua New Guinea) -- Ethnic relations
    East Sepik Province (Papua New Guinea) -- Maps
    Sepik River Valley (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) -- Social life and customs
    Sepik River Valley (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) -- Ethnic relations
    Sepik River Valley (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) -- Maps
    Photographic prints -- 20th Century.


    Firth, Raymond William, 1901- -- correspondent
    Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978, -- correspondent
    Hogbin, Herbert Ian, 1904- -- correspondent
    Forge, Anthony. -- Abelam exchange and society
    Forge, Anthony. -- Primitive art and society
    Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, -- correspondent