Ralph C. Michelsen papers

Finding aid prepared by Serena Rodholm, Student Processing Assistant.
Special Collections & University Archives
The UCR Library
P.O. Box 5900
University of California
Riverside, California 92517-5900
Phone: 951-827-3233
Fax: 951-827-4673
Email: specialcollections@ucr.edu
URL: http://library.ucr.edu/libraries/special-collections-university-archives
© 2018
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Ralph C. Michelsen papers
Date (inclusive): circa 1881-2004, undated
Collection Number: MS 173
Creator: Michelsen, Ralph C.
Extent: 3.34 linear feet (8 boxes)
Repository: Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
Riverside, CA 92517-5900
Abstract: This collection contains notes, photographs, articles, manuscripts, maps, published papers, clippings, correspondence, sound recordings, and other material from cultural anthropologist Ralph C. Michelsen. Materials in the collection mostly pertain to Michelsen's anthropological research on numerous indigenous tribes in North and Central America, including the PaiPai and Kiliwa of Baja California, various Luiseño groups in southern California, the Mohave and Cocopah, the Seri of Mexico, and other groups in Mexico and Guatemala including Cora and Maya.
Languages: The collection is in English, Spanish, and the Kiliwa language.


This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the University of California, Riverside Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives. Distribution or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. To the extent other restrictions apply, permission for distribution or reproduction from the applicable rights holder is also required. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [date if possible]. Ralph C. Michelsen papers (MS 173). Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Susan Lobo, 2007.

Processing History

Initial processing of the collection was completed by Susan Lobo and Nicole Menard in 2006. Additional processing was completed by Serena Rodholm, Student Processing Assistant, in 2018.
Additional processing of the Ralph C. Michelsen papers was completed by undergraduate students from the University of California, Riverside as part of the Special Collections & University Archives Backlog Processing Project started in 2015. This project was funded by the UCR Library and administered by Jessica Geiser, Collections Management Librarian.

Biographical Note

Ralph Copeland Michelsen was born August 14, 1913, in Portland, Oregon, and died June 6, 1996, in Ashland, Oregon, of kidney failure. Having overcome significant childhood adversity, he educated himself and lived an extraordinarily varied, adventurous, and ultimately rewarding life. He regarded intellect, honesty, and integrity as preeminent values and these were the standards which he set for himself and others.
Although Ralph did not graduate from high school, he spent many hours of his youth in the public library reading widely and intensely. He once could name all the spars and lines of a full rigged 18th century sailing ship, and it was in the library that he began his lifelong interest in other cultures. He credited his failure to become a juvenile delinquent to his time spent in the library, and to his mother, and the librarian.
After "starving out" of both Fullerton Junior College and UCLA during the depression, Ralph began working in the construction industry and eventually became a general contractor. In his early adult years he became fluent in Spanish and was later hired to run a tungsten mine in northern Baja California during the Korean War. Eventually, his love of camping took him into rural Mexico and various Indian villages, where he began to make friends and learn about what he was seeing-an anthropologist in the making.
Ralph married Mildred Ecternacht shortly after he left UCLA and they had five children: Claire, Carolyn, Cleo, Cathy, and Ralph James. There is one grandchild from this family, Carolyn's son Logan Bane. Ralph and his second wife, Mary-Kay Titus Michelsen, have one daughter, Joan-Marie.
Having ridden the second model Harley Davidson motorcycle as a youth living near the oil fields of Long Beach, California, Ralph continued his pursuit of adventure in adulthood by learning to fly his own airplane. In his later years, he spent many happy hours sailing and maintaining a wooden sail boat. From his forties until his death he and his wife owned a series of campers in which they traveled extensively throughout the Southwest, Mexico and Canada.
Camping with Mary-Kay in northern Mexico during the early 60's Ralph became interested in the Pai Pai Indians of Santa Catarina, Baja California. A friendship developed there with Roger Owen, an anthropologist who was completing his field work with the Pai Pai for a PhD from UCLA. Owen soon began to urge Ralph to write about his observations. During these trips, Ralph, a life long photographer, was also recording photographically many of the activities he observed.
An encounter on the road in Baja California with a Kumeyaay Indian led Ralph to watch, then study, the hand game Peon. His frequent attendance at games and increasing friendship with one family of players led him not only to play once in a while, but to write a successful dissertation describing and analyzing the game. His dissertation supports the fact that Peon is a game of skill and strategy, not chance, as had been previously believed.
When Ralph was admitted to the School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine, he had already published numerous articles in cultural anthropology. He received his PhD degree in 1981 at the age of 68 and continued to teach at UCI until he was forced to retire because of his age. These were the happiest years of his long and interesting life.
After retirement he and his family moved to Oregon where he spent many hours building a G Gage rail road in his yard and admiring the cows in the front pasture. He was content and accepted his final illness without fear or apprehension.
[Written by Mary Kay Michelsen, 2006]

Collection Scope and Contents

This collection contains notes, photographs, articles, manuscripts, maps, published papers, clippings, correspondence, sound recordings, and other material from Ralph C. Michelsen, mostly pertaining to the PaiPai and Kiliwa of Baja California, various Luiseño groups in southern California, the Mohave and Cocopah, the Seri of Mexico, and other groups in Mexico and Guatemala including Cora and Maya.
Michelsen compiled the material while doing research that led to a Ph.D. in anthropology (1981) from UC Irvine, where he then taught. The bulk of the collection is comprised of notes and photographs that record a range of native groups' cultural practices in meticulous and appreciative detail.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged into six series as follows:
  • Series 1. Baja California, 1887-1979
  • Series 2. Southern California, 1889-1979
  • Series 3. Seri, 1965-2004
  • Series 4. Mexico, Guatemala, and Indigenous Groups, 1959-1973
  • Series 5. General, 1926-1981
  • Series 6. Personal, 1974-1996

Separated Materials

Books donated with the collection have been separated for cataloging in Special Collections, searchable by title online as "Ralph C. Michelsen papers."

Indexing Terms

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


Higuera, Petra
Ochurte, Rufino
Baja California (Mexico : State)
Cocopa Indians
Cora Indians
Indians of Central America
Indians of Mexico
Indians of North America
Indians of North America -- Games
Kiliwa Indians
Kiliwa language
Luiseño Indians
Mohave Indians
Paipai Indians
Seri Indians

Genres and Forms of Materials

Audiovisual materials
Field notes


Series 1. Baja California circa 1887-1981

Series Scope and Contents

The series consists of the materials related to Michelsen's study of the Kiliwa people of northern Baja California in Mexico, and most notably focused on two individuals, Petra Higuera and Rufino Ochurte. Materials in the series also include Michelsen's notes and writing on the Kiliwa language and materials on the Pai Pai and other groups.

Series Arrangement

The series is arranged topically into nine sub-series as follows:
  • Sub-Series 1.1. Notes, 1887-1980
  • Sub-Series 1.2. Correspondence, 1966-1975
  • Sub-Series 1.3. Maps, circa 1903
  • Sub-Series 1.4. Lectures, 1972-1984
  • Sub-Series 1.5. Publication drafts, 1918-1981
  • Sub-Series 1.6. Articles, 1901-1979
  • Sub-Series 1.7. Thesis and dissertations, 1963-1973
  • Sub-Series 1.8. Photographs, 1966
  • Sub-Series 1.9. Slides, 1979

Sub-Series 1.1. Notes 1887-1981

Box 1, Folder 1

Territoriality undated

Box 1, Folder 2

Pai Pai Pinon Nut Camp undated

Box 1, Folder 4

Pai Pai notes circa 1951-1957

Box 1, Folder 5

Pai Pai with farmer undated

Box 1, Folder 6

Communities undated

Box 1, Folder 7

Linguistics 1964

Box 1, Folder 8

Typed notes- [Alamo Plains] undated

Box 1, Folder 9

"The 31 Missions of Baja California" undated

Box 1, Folder 10

Chart of "Principal Aspects of Baja California Rock Record" undated

Box 1, Folder 11

Notes on "Sales 1772-1790" and trade undated

Box 1, Folder 12

Grunion, Abulon, and boats undated

Box 1, Folder 13

"Field Notes, Santa Catarina 4-2-70, Maroma, Pai-lip" 1970

Box 1, Folder 14

["Rufino Ochurte"] 1968

Box 1, Folder 15

"Rufino- Notes on Hunting" 1964

Box 1, Folder 16

"Havasupai- Pai Pai Meeting" 1975

Box 1, Folder 17

History and language undated

Box 1, Folder 18

Pai Pai - "Relate the Four Mythical ancestral characters to General Theory..." undated

Box 1, Folder 19

Relationship Diagram undated

Box 1, Folder 20

"Aboriginal tech items that Indians use today not modified..." undated

Box 1, Folder 21

Ancestral Myth undated

Box 1, Folder 22

Family name tables undated

Box 1, Folder 23

Bill Hendricks, Director of Sherman Library 1969

Box 1, Folder 24

Food, Language, Historical Overview undated

Box 1, Folder 25

Day by day count on Indians visiting San Pablo and Santa Catarina undated

Box 1, Folder 26

[Book chapter outline] undated

Box 1, Folder 27

List of Indian names undated

Box 1, Folder 28

Mary Kay listening to Juan Arvallo undated

Box 1, Folder 29

Kiliwa terms undated

Box 1, Folder 30

Kinship undated

Box 1, Folder 31

Definitions of words and identification of stones and fibers undated

Box 1, Folder 32

Field notes on Kiliwa language undated

Box 1, Folder 33

"Memorial to Rufino Uchurte" 1977

Box 1, Folder 34

Field notes: Kiliwa words "Rufino Cigarettes, Tabacco Coyote, ejip milti undated

Box 1, Folder 35

"Kelly ref, 'Kell-y, Wm. H. 1942, AA.44 4'" 1942

Box 1, Item 36

Field notes: "Informant: Rufino Ochurte" on his death 1962

Box 1, Folder 37

Kiliwa film undated

Box 1, Folder 38

"Land and Life in Mexico: Baja California: A supplemental outline for Baja California history" 1964

Box 1, Folder 39

"Resources of the Pacific Slopes: Excerpt of Indian tribes and Languages of the Peninsula" 1887

Box 1, Folder 40

"Lost Silver Ledge" undated

Box 1, Folder 41

Well Digger: Seferino 1921

Box 1, Folder 42

"Anthropologists Warned" undated

Box 1, Folder 43

"Bibliography of the Anthropology of Baja California" undated

Box 1, Folder 44

Kwatl lineage undated

Box 1, Folder 45

Rufino Description undated

Box 1, Folder 46

Questions regarding book undated

Box 1, Folder 47

Index undated

Box 1, Folder 48

Table of contents for book undated

Box 1, Folder 49

Punch cards: Helen Smith's interviews with Mrs. Salvado and Meling 1965

Box 1, Folder 50

Current affairs and Indian clippings circa 1966-1980

Box 1, Folder 50

"An Outline History of Baja California" undated

Box 1, Folder 51

Pai Pai notes on Shamul and other linguistic material undated

Box 1, Folder 52

Cordage and pottery 1965-1966

Box 2

[Interview of Alberta Meling and Aida Meling Barre] 1976

Box 2, Folder 2

Baja California Symposium XIV 1976


Sub-Series 1.2. Correspondence 1889-1979

Box 2, Folder 3

Anita Alvarez de William 1972-1975

Box 2, Folder 4

Amigos del Antano 1969

Box 2, Folder 5

Roger Owens to Florence Shipek 1969

Box 2, Folder 6

Ralph Michelsen from Peveil Meigs 1974

Box 2, Folder 7

From Margaret Langdon 1966

Box 2, Folder 8

From Bailey L. Abbott 1969

Box 2, Folder 9

Lee. H. Watkins to M.S. Smith 1967

Box 2, Folder 10

From Mauricio Mixco and response of Ralph Michelsen 1966


Sub-Series 1.3. Maps circa 1903

Box 2, Folder 11

Route to the Kailiwa Indians undated

Box 2, Folder 12

Baja California circa 1903


Sub-Series 1.4. Lectures 1972-1984

Box 2, Folder 13

Field notes and Ralph Michelsen talk 1984

Box 2, Folder 14

Questions and answers: acculturation in lower socio-economic levels of society circa 1972

Box 2, Folder 15

Lecture Series "Human Adaptation in the Sonoran Desert: Past and Present" 1972


Sub-Series 1.5. Publication drafts 1918-1981

Box 2, Folder 16

"Logos Signum Pottery" undated

Box 2, Folder 17

"Logos Signum Cordage" undated

Box 2, Folder 18

"In Defense of Trivia" by Ralph Michelsen 1973

Box 2, Folder 19

Field notes: "America's First Filter Cigarettes" and response undated

Box 2, Folder 20

"A Preliminary Bibliography on the Anthropology of Baja California" and "A Preliminary Bibliography on the Anthropology of Tijuana" 1968

Box 2, Folder 21

"The Construction of a Kiliwa House" undated

Box 2, Folder 22

"The Man Who Talked to Snakes" undated

Box 2, Folder 23

"The Mountain Tribes of Northern Baja California, Mexico" 1951-1981

Box 2, Folder 24

"Field Work Palli Wilson 3/28-5/3 1972, Santa Catarina Baja California, Mexico 1972

Box 2, Folder 25

"Some Successes and Failures of Community Development Projects in Two Band Level Societies" 1969

Box 2, Folder 26

"Plant Life of Baja California" 1964

Box 2, Folder 27

"Mobile Band Societies and Systematic Culture Theory: A Dilemma" by R.C. Owen 1971

Box 2, Folder 28

"English Translation of Guia Familiar de Baja California" by Pablo Martinez undated

Box 2, Folder 29

"Indian Tribes of Northern District Lower California, Mexico" 1918

Box 2, Folder 30

"On Rancho Neje" 1969

Box 2, Folder 31

"Espinosa" by Phil Meling 1966

Box 2, Folder 32

"Proto-Northern Yuman- Pai Pai So Far" by Alan Shaterian 1966

Box 2, Folder 33

"Indian Tribes of Northern District Lower California, Mexico" by David Goldbaum 1918

Box 2, Folder 34


Box 2, Folder 35

Aberrant Metate paper 1966

Box 2, Folder 36

"Baja California in Anthropological Theory: Desert Adaptation, Cul-de-sac, Frontier, and Border" by John A. Price 1968

Box 2, Folder 37

"Sound Symbolism in Yuman Languages" Margaret Langdon undated

Box 2, Folder 38

"Proto-Yuman Verb Morphology" by Margaret Langdon 1966

Box 2, Folder 39

"A Comparative Study of Yuman Consonantism" by Alan Campbell 1968

Box 2, Folder 40

[Drawings by E.M. Elliot] undated

Box 2, Folder 41

"A Preliminary Ethnographic Survey of Tecate Mexico" by John A. Price 1968

Box 2, Folder 42

"In Lower California" by H.W. Scorly 1976

Box 3, Folder 1

"The Antiquity of Humans in the New World: Stones and Bones" by Rodger C. Owens 1981

Box 3, Folder 2

Notes by Ralph Michelsen on article on Pai Pai paddle and anvil pottery 1977

Box 3, Folders 3-5

"Santa Catarina's People" Surviving Yuman-Speaking Native Americans in Baja California, Mexico- An Anthropological Investigation" draft by Rodger C. Owen and Ralph Michelsen undated


Sub-Series 1.6. Articles 1901-1979

Box 3, Folder 6

"Baja Big Game Hunt" by Ralph C. Michelsen 1964

Box 3, Folder 7

"Musical Culture and Ethnic Solidarity: A Baja California Case Study" 1969

Box 3, Folder 8

"Among the Cocopahs" by Captain Newton H. Chittenden" 1901

Box 3, Folder 9

"Kiliwa Texts" by Mauricio J. Mixco 1976

Box 3, Folder 10

"Capitulio V Mexico" by R. Velasco Ceballos 1920

Box 3, Folder 11

"A Baja California Jornada to Mission Santa Catarina De Los Yumas" 1938

Box 3, Folder 12

"Deceptive Barrenness; the desert conceals food sources that Prehistoric people knew how to how to exploit. Will modern man do as well?" by Richard S. Felger and Gary Paul Nabhan 1976

Box 3, Folder 13

Republica Mexicana, MULEGE Baja California 1980

Box 3, Folder 14

"Archaeological Sites in the Jamau- Jaquijel Region, Baja California: A Preliminary Report" by F.N. Hicks 1959

Box 3, Folder 15

"An Archaeological Reconnaissance of Northeastern Baja California and Southeastern California" by Alan E. Treganza 1942

Box 3, Folder 16

America Indigena v. XXIII 1963

Box 3, Folder 17

[Mauricio J. Mixco: Journal of American Linguistics and letter] 1977

Box 3, Folder 18

"Some Surviving Yuman Groups in Northern Baja California" by Thomas B. Hinton and R.C. Owen 1957

Box 3, Folder 20

"The Making of Paddle and Anvil Pottery at Santa Catarina Baja California, Mexico by Ralph Michelsen 1966

Box 3, Folder 21

"Musical Culture and Ethnic Solidarity: A Baja California Case Study" by Rodger C. Owen, Nancy E. Walstrom, and Ralph C. Michelsen 1969

Box 3, Folder 22

Memorial to Rufino Uchurte in The Journal of California Anthrolopology 1977

Box 3, Folder 23

"The Kiliwa : Hunters and Gatherers of Baja California" A film by Ralph C. Michelsen undated

Box 3, Folder 24

"Kamia and Kumeyaay" by Margaret Langdon 1975

Box 4, Folder 1

Ethnohistory 1960

Box 4, Folder 2

Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly (PCASQ) publications 1970-1977

Box 4, Folder 3

"Ethnographic Notes on Agave Fiber Cordage" by Ralph C. Michelsen 1974

Box 4, Folder 4

"A Pinon Harvest by Pai Pai Indians" by Ralph and Mary Kay Michelsen 1979

Box 4, Folder 5

"The Construction of a Kiliwa House" by Ralph C. Michelsen 1977

Box 4, Folder 6

"A Keruk Ceremony at Santa Catarina, Baja California, Mexico" 1967

Box 4, Folder 7

"Pecked Metaates of Baja California" undated

Box 4, Folder 8

"Memorial to Rufino Uchurte" 1977

Box 4, Folder 9

"Kiliwa Kinship Terms" by Ralph Michelsen undated

Box 4, Folder 10

"The Making of Paddle and Anvil Pottery at Santa Catarina, Baja California, Mexico" 1966


Sub-Series 1.7. Theses and dissertations circa 1963-1973

Box 4, Folder 11

"Ecological Aspects of Aboriginal Culture in the Western Yuman Area" [and correspondence] 1963-1969

Box 4, Folder 12

Thesis of a friend of Anita Alvarez de Williams who wrote the letter in Spanish and Letter to Ralph from author of Cocopah People and Travelers Among the Cocopah circa 1973

Box 4, Folder 13

[Pai Pai Indians field notes] 1966


Sub-Series 1.8. Photographs 1966

Box 4, Folder 14

Petra Higuera collecting and roasting mescal to be used in making 1966

Box 4, Folder 15

"Pietra Higuera wielding mescal chisel" and "scraping edge to remove spines" 1966

Box 4, Folder 16

"Only heart of plant is taken" and "Heart of plant usually furnishes 7 to 10 suitable leaves" 1966

Box 4, Folder 17

"Leaves are separated from heart on the spot in order to discard unsuitable leaves" 1966

Box 4, Folder 18

"Most of the sharp points of the leaves are removed before using the chisel as a safety precaution" and "Carrying net. Julquá." 1966

Box 4, Folder 19

"This net was made by Juana Gonzales before 1956" 1966

Box 4, Folder 20

"In the foreground is the pit prepared for roasting the mescal, covered with the brush for fuel which Petra is igniting" 1966

Box 4, Folder 21

"After the brush and some medium sized trunks have burned to coals most of the coals are pulled out of the fire" and "the leaves of the mascal are laid out in the ashes and coals in an orderly fashion" 1966

Box 4, Folder 22

"Note that all leaves are placed inside face down" 1966

Box 4, Folder 23

"Ashes and coals are shoveldover the mescal. Sand is used to cover the coals" 1966

Box 4, Folder 24

"The charred trunks that had been put aside previously now come into good use as they are pladed on top of the sand to help kindle a new fire" 1966

Box 4, Folder 25

"Material left in pit from three P.M. until sun rise in the following day" and "Mecal leaves are laid on a flat piece of wood and scraped with a small abalone shell" 1966

Box 4, Folder 26

"Petra Higuera preparing mescal fibers for making cordage" 1966

Box 4, Folder 27

"First scraping of leaf. Child is granddaughter, Amalia" 1966

Box 4, Folder 28

"Roasted leaf is peeled from the butt end for about half of its length" and "only the lower half of the leaf is scrapedat this stage of the operation" 1966

Box 4, Folder 29

"Scraping with abalone shell" and Squeezing pulp from half peeled leaf" 1966

Box 4, Folder 30

[Scraping of abalone shell] 1966

Box 4, Folder 31

"Outside wall of cooking shelter" 1966

Box 4, Folder 32

"Inside of kitchen shelter" 1966

Box 4, Folder 33

"Tools and materials for scraping" and "Husk of pointed end of leaf is removed by placing the foot on the already peeled lower portion, wrapping the fingers around the scraped fibers and pulling them apart" 1966

Box 4, Folder 34

"Scraping upper end of leaf" 1966

Box 4, Folder 35

"Scraped fibers are rinsed twice in warm water" 1966

Box 4, Folder 36

"After rinsing material is separated into even bunches and laid out to dry" 1966

Box 4, Folder 37

"Dried material is laid in a bed of damp sand which keeps it moist enough to work while rolling into strands" and "Rolling into strands is done on the lower leg" 1966

Box 4, Folder 38

"Dampened material is taken for the sand pile in bundles and the fibers are separated into a strand of the proper tickness for whatever use the cordage is put" 1966

Box 4, Folder 39

Mescal fibers cordage 1966

Box 4, Folder 40

"Preliminary strands are rolled first which will later be rolled into a two strand cord" and "The pan holds ashes which are rubbed on the leg hand and fingers" 1966

Box 4, Folder 41

"This is actually the first step in rolling a preliminary strand" and "When the two short section are rolled it then becomes possible to roll the full length of the preliminary strand into a loosely rolled cord" 1966

Box 4, Folder 42

"All of the rolling of the preliminary strand is done from the end where the short section if two strand roll was first made" 1966

Box 4, Folder 43

"Corn field the maker, Petra Higuera" and "House of son of Petra about 150 yards to the east of Petras house" 1966

Box 4, Folder 44

"Fibers being pulled from their place in the damp sand" and "Rolling the preliminary strands into the finished cord" 1966

Box 4, Folder 45

"Taravilla which is probably a Spanish innovation, is a tool used for tightening the twist of the finished cord, however their is a word in the Pai Pai dialect for the apparatus" 1966

Box 4, Folder 46

"Rolling" and "Splicing" 1966

Box 4, Folder 47

"Rolling in a splice" and "Looking down on sleeping room to the right and the cooking shelter to the left" 1966

Box 4, Folder 48

"Pai Pai houses are often built next to or very near to large boulders" 1966

Box 4, Folder 49

"Each time a hand motion is made for the roll of the fingers of the left hand the two strands until there is pressure against the roll" 1966

Box 4, Folder 50

"Looking at rear of kitchen shelter to the right" 1966

Box 4, Folder 51

[Dogs] 1966

Box 4, Folder 52

"Petra tying a net. Petra and Pricilia Flores gathering clay to be used in making ollas" 1966

Box 4, Folder 53

"After the cord has been twisted very tightly it is stretched and left overnight to set itself permanently" 1966

Box 4, Folder 54

"Petra's method of holding her fingers to wind the cordage for storage" 1966

Box 4, Folder 55

"Nets are tied to a post by means of a loose loop as shown below" 1966

Box 4, Folder 56

"Fingers are used to gauge the mesh size" and "The knots are square knots" 1966

Box 4, Folder 57

[Knot tying] 1966

Box 4, Folder 58

[Net weaving] 1966

Box 4, Folder 59

"This is the preferred source of clay for making pottery at Santa Catarina" and "Concentrations of stones that have been tossed aside in order to remove the hard clay" 1966

Box 4, Folder 60

"The digging stick was resharpened" 1966

Box 4, Folder 61

"Clods are chosen for their hardness and fineness of grain" 1966

Box 4, Folder 62

"Amalia, Petras granddaughter, laid out a rectangle of stones while she played" and "Amalia is typical of the small children in that shire often volunteered her help in small chores" 1966

Box 4, Folder 63

[Digging] 1966

Box 4, Folder 64

"Wild hair protuding from the chord is trimmed either with scissors of by singing with a small flame" 1966

Box 4, Folder 65

"Petra finishing net. Grinding pinon nuts. Grinding clay for pottery. Winnowing" 1966

Box 4, Folder 66

[Petra finishing net] 1966

Box 4, Folder 67

"The cord continues from the last knot to lace up the side to tie the two edges together" 1966

Box 4, Folder 68

[Petra's net] 1966

Box 4, Boxes 69

"The finished bag is filled with rocks to hang overnight to stretch and set into shape" 1966

Box 4, Folder 70

[Petra filling her net with rocks] 1966

Box 4, Folder 71

"Petra is breaking the shells from pinion nuts 1966

Box 4, Folder 72

"Winnowing by short explosive breaths of air removes the cracked shells and leaves and nut meatsin the pan" and "the shelled nuts are ground to a paste" 1966

Box 4, Folder 73

[Winnowing] 1966

Box 4, Folder 74

[Amalia] 1966

Box 5, Folder 1

"Clay is course ground" 1966

Box 5, Folder 2

"Course ground clay is screened" and "Screened material is winnowed" 1966

Box 5, Folder 3

"Petra Higuera grinding clay for the manufacture of paddle and anvil ollas. Mixing clay, beginning of olla on form, adding coil" 1966

Box 5, Folder 4

"Second grinding of clay takes place after winnowing" 1966

Box 5, Folder 5

[Petra grinding using a rock] 1966

Box 5, Folder 6

[Petra hand grinding using a rock] 1966

Box 5, Folder 7

"Horse manure is ground and mixed into the clay" 1966

Box 5, Folder 8

"The ground clay is spread on a piece of burlap and formed into a mound with a hollowed center to receive the water" 1966

Box 5, Folder 9

[Petra moistening clay] 1966

Box 5, Folder 10

"The clay is mixed with water and kneaded into a very stiff consistency" 1966

Box 5, Folder 11

"A tortilla of clay is formed between the hands and laid in a shallow depression in the sand which is covered with a cloth" and "Meanwhile the pottery form is covered with ashes to prevent the clat from sticking to the form" 1966

Box 5, Folder 12

"The round flat formed clay is laid on the form and the padling begins" 1966

Box 5, Folder 13

"It is paddled until it expands to a greater size" 1966

Box 5, Folder 14

"A rope of clay is rolled between the palm of the hands" and "The edge of the paddled clay is dampened and the roll is laid and welded with short quick finger motions" 1966

Box 5, Folder 15

"The weld is further blended in to the base with horizontal rubbing with the fingers" 1966

Box 5, Folder 16

"Petra making pottery and Rufino Ochurte robbing honey" 1966

Box 5, Folder 17

[Petra polishing pottery] 1966

Box 5, Folder 18

[Petra sharpening a stick] 1966

Box 5, Folder 19

"Rufino kindles a small fire in order to have small burning branches to make smoke" and "Rufino digs the bank until he can see the honey combs" 1966

Box 5, Folder 20

"The honeycombs and the smoldering branch" 1966

Box 5, Folder 21

[Rufino picks out the honeycomb] 1966

Box 5, Folder 22

"Rufino takes about half the honey and leaves the rest to support the bees" 1966

Box 5, Folder 23

"The entrance to the cave where the bees have their hive is blocked with stone" 1966

Box 5, Folder 24

"Due to rain the paddling continued for two days" and "the bottom was quite dry so Petra polished it while still on the form" 1966

Box 5, Folder 25

"This type of anvil is used for probably not much over one third of the area" 1966

Box 5, Folder 26

"Note the some polishing has been done on harder base areas" 1966

Box 5, Folder 27

"Pottery" 1966

Box 5, Folder 28

[Petra polishing pottery] 1966

Box 5, Folder 29

[Pottery laid out for view] 1966

Box 5, Folder 30

"Note the use of the hand in place of the anvil" 1966

Box 5, Folder 31

[Petra shaping the neck of the pottery] 1966

Box 5, Folder 32

[Close up of Petra shaping the neck of the pottery] 1966

Box 5, Folder 33

"Polishing stone is wet" 1966

Box 5, Folder 34

[Petra polishing pottery neck and sides] 1966

Box 5, Folder 35

[Petra and pottery] 1966

Box 5, Folder 36

"Polished surface of olla before firing" and "Dry datil stalks are collected for firing the olla" 1966

Box 5, Folder 37

[Petra and Amelia gathering plants] 1966

Box 5, Folder 38

[Petra and Amelia returning from gathering] 1966

Box 5, Folder 39

"Net partially loaded with dry detil stalks" 1966

Box 5, Folder 40

"Fully loaded net"

Box 5, Folder 41

"The net, being loaded to capacity, extended in both directions equally from the opening making it impractical to use the head strap" 1966

Box 5, Folder 42

[Petra and Amalia returning from gathering] 1966

Box 5, Folder 43

"Gathering tunas" 1966

Box 5, Folder 44

[ Gathering tunas with Petra and Amalia]

Box 5, Folder 45

"Tongs are made of willow" 1966

Box 5, Folder 46

[Using willow tongs to gather tunas] 1966

Box 5, Folder 47

[Petra carrying the full net and Amaria eating tunas] 1966

Box 5, Folder 48

"Brush of weeds is used to rub away spines from the fruit" and "The net is shaken to agitate the tunas which eliminates any spines that remain after brushing" 1966

Box 5, Folder 49

[Petra and granddaughter continue to gather tunas] 1966

Box 5, Folder 50

[Petra looking into her net of tunas] 1966

Box 5, Folder 51

"Firing pottery" 1966

Box 5, Folder 52

"Amalia hold a bunch of weeds used to brush the tuna which she is eating" 1966

Box 5, Folder 53

"Far right. Manuela Aguillar. To her right is her mother Petra Carrillo, A Kiliwa. The children are offspring of Manuela and a Mexican sometimes husband" 1966

Box 5, Folder 54

[Aguilar and Carrillo family] 1966


"Drying the unfired olla" 1966

Box 5, Folder 56

"Rocks laid in firing pit to receive the olla" and "Laying the olla on the rocks after the fire has been lighted" 1966

Box 5, Folder 57

[Petra creating fire] 1966

Box 5, Folder 58

[Petra firing the pot] 1966

Box 5, Folder 58

[Petra feeding the fire] 1966

Box 5, Folder 59

[Petra rotating the pot over the fire] 1966

Box 5, Folder 60

[Petra covering the firing pot with plants] 1966

Box 5, Folder 61

[Petra continuing to feed the fire] 1966

Box 5, Folder 63

"Olla in fire. Petra using small net" 1966

Box 5, Folder 64

"Olla in the fire" 1966

Box 5, Folder 65

[Petra's fire] 1966

Box 5, Folder 66

[Pot in the fire] 1966

Box 5, Folder 67

[Petra carries pot back] 1966

Box 5, Folder 68

[Petra carrying the fired pot] 1966

Box 5, Folder 69

[Close up of Petra carrying pot] 1966


Sub-Series 1.9. Slides 1979

Box 5, Folder 70

Survey of Pre-Columbian Meso-American Culture 1979


Series 2. Southern California 1881-1980

Series Scope and Contents

This series consists of Michelsen's research on tribes from Southern California, including the Luiseño, Kumeyaay, Cuhuilla, Mohave, and Cocopa people.
The majority of material focus on Michelsen's research on peon games that was the basis of his dissertation at the University of California, Irvine. In many instances files are maintained here as he organized them in order to preserve his logical intent.

Series Arrangement

The series is arranged topically into four sub-series as follows:
  • Sub-Series 2.1. Notes, 1881-1980
  • Sub-Series 2.2. Correspondence, 1968-1977
  • Sub-Series 2.3. Maps, 1938
  • Sub-Series 2.4. Articles, 1894-1965

Sub-Series 2.1. Notes 1887-1980

Box 5, Folder 71

"Internal Reconstruction of Yuman Kinship Terminology" undated

Box 5, Folder 72

Proposal to organize a series of three seminars 1969

Box 5, Folder 73

Luiseno notes and publications 1963-1964

Box 5, Folder 74

Game Classification 1966

Box 6, Folder 1

Peon 1972-1980

Box 6, Folder 2

"Ayelkwi" draft 1981

Box 6, Folder 3

Peon notes: religion and belief, brujos, ayelkwi undated

Box 6, Folder 4

Peon-related Hayonene by Ralph Michelsen undated

Box 6, Folder 5

Peon for dissertation notes undated

Box 6, Folder 6

Peon games at Rincon and Pechanga, Sabobam Malki 1970-1971

Box 6, Folder 7

Peon game at Rincon by Ralph Michelsen 1975

Box 6, Folder 8

Peon game analysis at Malki: Rincon 1970

Box 6, Folder 9

Peon notes 1972-1979

Box 6, Folder 10

Simulation of peon game: Ralph Michelsen and Malcolm Dow undated

Box 6, Folder 11

Draft of dissertation abstract undated

Box 6, Folder 12

Draft of dissertation introduction undated

Box 6, Folder 13

Draft of dissertation chapter 11 undated

Box 6, Folder 14

Draft of dissertation chapter 1 undated

Box 6, Folder 15

History and distribution of peon for dissertation undated

Box 6, Folder 16

First draft of Chapter 1 undated

Box 6, Folder 17

Draft of dissertation preface of "handgames, games of chance, or strategy" undated

Box 6, Folder 18

Play, number, signal, combination and score matrix for peon undated

Box 6, Folder 19

"Faint sounds echoing from California's post" by Ralph Michelsen 1970

Box 6, Folder 20

Peon 1967

Box 6, Folder 21

Notes for dissertation on Parker peon games 1966-1967

Box 6, Folder 22

Loose combinations derived from tied combinations numbers 9-16, One man. 1 sheet of move combinations undated

Box 6, Folder 23

"The hard game of Peon, a description and analysis" by Ralph Michelsen undated

Box 6, Folder 24

Peon paper presented at the Association For Anthropological Study of Play 1977

Box 6, Folder 25

"Poe-the Purloined Letter" undated

Box 6, Folder 26

Chapter outlines for dissertation undated

Box 6, Folder 27

Peon notes undated

Box 6, Folder 28

Peon games at Malki 1971

Box 6, Folder 29

Dissertation proposal 1974

Box 6, Folder 30

Notes and drafts of talks circa 1965

Box 6, Folder 31

"The man who talked to snakes" undated

Box 6, Folder 32

Draft "Peon Intro" by Ralph Michelsen undated

Box 6, Folder 33, Box 7, Folders 1-2

Peon, assembled by Frank Lobo circa 1889-1974

Box 7, Folder 3

Mohave: ethnographic data on two lances [regarding] Bill W. 1965

Box 7, Folder 4

Luiseno/ Juaneno notes undated

Box 7, Folder 5

Campo fiesta flier undated


Sub-Series 2.2. Correspondence 1968-1977

Box 7, Folder 6

Letter from Ruth Almstedt to Ralph Michelsen: peon magic 1968

Box 7, Folder 7

Letter from Rodger Owen to Ralph Michelsen 1976

Box 7, Folder 8

Ralph Michelsen to Susan H. Boyd 1977

Box 7, Folder 9

Letter from Bill Hendricks, Sherman Foundation to Ralph Michelsen 1969


Sub-Series 2.3. Maps 1938

Box 7, Folder 10

Mission Indian Reservation 1938


Sub-Series 2.4. Articles 1894-1965

Box 7, Folder 11

"Some Coahuia songs and dances" by David P. Barrows 1895

Box 7, Folder 12

"Critical Translations from Document Never Before Published in English" by Miguel Costanso undated

Box 7, Folder 13

"The Amargosa Industry" by Malcolm J. Rodgers 1939

Box 7, Folder 14

"Giant ground figures of the prehistoric deserts" by Emma Lou Davis and Sylvia Winslow 1965

Box 7, Folder 15

"Letter from the Secretary of the Interior" 1894

Box 7, Folder 16

"Cocopa attitudes and practices with respect to death and mourning" 1949

Box 7, Folder 17

"Cocopa gentes" by William H. Kelly 1942


Series 3. Seri 1965-2004

Series Scope and Contents

This series consists of items related to Michelsen's research on the Seri, an indigineous group from the Mexican state of Sonora.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged topically into three sub-series as follows:
  • Sub-Series 3.1. Notes, circa 2004
  • Sub-Series 3.2. Correspondence, 1965-1968
  • Sub-Series 3.3. Books and magazines, 1965

Series 3.1. Notes circa 2004

Box 7, Folder 18

Notebook by Ralph Michelsen undated

Box 7, Folder 19

List of Seri items sold to a museum in Osaka, Japan 2004


Series 3.2. Correspondence 1965-1968

Box 7, Folder 20

Ralph Michelsen to Tom Hinton 1965

Box 7, Folder 21

Thomas Bowen to Ralph Michelsen 1968


Series 3.3. Books and magazines 1965

Box 7, Folder 22

"The Seri" 1965


Series 4. Mexico, Guatemala, and indigenous groups circa 1959-1973

Series Scope and Contents

This series consists of Michelsen's research Cora and Maya Indians within Mexico, and materials relating to a trip he made to the area in 1959.

Series Arrangement

This series is divided topically into five sub-series as follows:
  • Sub-Series 4.1. Notes, 1959-1970
  • Sub-Series 4.2. Lectures, undated
  • Sub-Series 4.3. Drafts of publications, undated
  • Sub-Series 4.4. Articles, circa 1973
  • Sub-Series 4.5. Books, 1972

Sub-Series 4.1. Notes circa 1959-1970

Box 7, Folder 23

Holiday greetings from the Michelsen's by Mary-Kay Michelsen 1959

Box 7, Folder 24

Visit to Nayarit and Cora 1959

Box 7, Folder 25

"Some notes on the Cora Indians of Mexico" 1959

Box 7, Folder 26

Notes on readings related to Cora undated

Box 7, Folder 27

Maya 1970


Sub-Series 4.2. Lectures undated

Box 7, Folder 28

"The Ancient Maya" talk by Ralph Michelsen undated


Sub-Series 4.3. Drafts of publications undated

Box 7, Folder 29

"Occupations and Income of the Indian population of Mexico" undated


Sub-Series 4.4. Articles circa 1973

Box 7, Folder 30

Maya articles from a class circa 1973


Sub-Series 4.5. Books 1972

Box 7, Folder 31

Sun Trails Newsletter, vol. 1, no. 1 1972


Series 5. General circa 1926-1983

Series Scope and Contents

This series consists of materials mainly related to other tribes within Mexico and the United States. Items in the series include notes and articles on topics such as gender and human rights, and flashcards on plants and trees Michelsen encountered during his research.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged topically into five sub-series as follows:
  • Sub-Series 5.1. Notes, 1926-1981
  • Sub-Series 5.2. Correspondence, 1967
  • Sub-Series 5.3. Lectures, 1975
  • Sub-Series 5.4. Drafts of publications, 1969-1983
  • Sub-Series 5.5. Articles, 1965-1978

Sub-Series 5.1. Notes circa 1926-1981

Box 7, Folder 32

Women's roles by Ralph Michelsen undated

Box 7, Folder 33

Reading list on notecards 1926

Box 7, Folder 34

Cross cultural contacts by Ralph Michelsen 1981

Box 7, Folder 35

Van Danigan film undated

Box 7, Folder 36

Conflict resolution-political systems undated


Sub-Series 5.2. Correspondence 1967

Box 7, Folder 37

From Ralph Michelsen to Davy (Emy Lou Davis) regarding a conference and archaeology 1967


Sub-Series 5.3. Lectures 1975

Box 7, Folder 38

"The effect of water control systems on social organization: an Example from the American Southwest" by Glen Rice 1975


Sub-Series 5.4. Drafts of publications 1969-1983

Box 7, Folder 39

"Maintenance of distance at the Flagstaff pow-wow" by Leanne Hinton circa 1978

Box 7, Folder 40

"If the Navajo were inside the Soviet Union: A comparative approach to the Russian nationality policy" by Rein Taagepera and Ralph Michelsen 1973-1978

Box 7, Folder 41

"Games and Social Behavior: The Case of Kwakiuti" by Christine Von Glascoe 1969

Box 7, Folder 42

"The Americas: The Case against an Ice-age Human Population" by Rodger C. Owen and a letter from Rodger to Ralph Michelsen 1983


Sub-Series 5.5. Articles 1965-1978

Box 8, Folder 1

"Nationalism and human rights: processes of modernization in the USSR by Ihor Kamnetsky and a letter from Joseph Roucek 1978

Box 8, Folder 2

[Tree and plant flashcards] undated

Box 8, Folder 3

[Sources with notes: Seri, fiestas, and Peon] circa 1965

Box 8, Folder 4

[Sources with notes: Yuman, Taipai, and Mojave] circa 1965


Series 6. Personal 1960-1996

Series Scope and Contents

This series revolves around Michelsen's personal life, and includes correspondence with fellow archaeologist Rodger C. Owen who worked in Southern California and Baja California as well. Items in the series also include letters and newspaper articles regarding Ralph Michelsen's death in 1996.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged topically into three sub-series as follows:
  • Sub-Series 6.1. Notes, circa 1926-1981
  • Sub-Series 6.2. Correspondence, 1960-1996
  • Sub-Series 6.3. Articles, 1974-1996

Sub-Series 6.1. Notes 1974

Box 8, Folder 5

Ralph Michelsen biography for Academic Personnel at the University of California 1974


Sub-Series 6.2. Correspondence 1960-1996

Box 8, Folder 6

[Letters, memorial museum, post cards, Invitation to Celebrate Ralph's Life] 1960-1996

Box 8, Folder 7

[Michelsen family holiday letter] 1994


Sub-Series 6.3. Articles 1974-1996

Box 8, Folder 8

"Fresh Start at 60- A Doctural Degree" 1974

Box 8, Folder 9

Ralph Michelsen's Obituary, Laguna Beach Coastline 1996