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Finding Aid to the William R. Bascom Papers, 1933-1981
BANC MSS 82/163 c  
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Includes papers related to Bascom's lifelong work on West African art, culture, and folklore and his teaching at the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University. Materials include personal and professional correspondence; field notes; lecture notes; course notes; and manuscripts of books and articles. Some papers written by his wife Berta Bascom are also included.
William Russell Bascom was a pioneer in the field of African Studies and Folklore. He received his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin and his PhD from Northwestern University in 1936. He taught at Northwestern, Cambridge University, and the University of California at Berkeley, where he was also director of the Lowie Museum of Anthropology. During World War II, he joined the O.S.S. and co-authored A Pocket Guide to West Africa.Bascom was the first American anthropologist to do field work among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. He made his first trip to Nigeria in 1937 at the age of 25. Over the next 23 years he spent a total of 5 years among the Yoruba, learning their culture and folklore and describing in detail all aspects of their life. During his many periods of residence in Nigeria, he and his wife Berta Montero Bascom assembled one of the foremost collections of books and art of the Yoruba people, their folklore, and history.A one-time president of the American Folklore Society, Professor Bascom was awarded the prestigious Giuseppe Pitre International Folklore Prize for one of his 10 books, Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West Africa. Other major works include: The Sociological Role of the Yoruba Cult-Group (1944), Ponape: A Pacific Economy in Transition (1947), The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria (1969), African Art in Cultural Perspective: An Introduction (1973), and Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World (1980).
Number of containers: 40 cartons, 3 boxes Linear feet: 51.2
Materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Collection is open for research.