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Chowning (Ann) Papers
MSS 0242  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of the Collection
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Languages: English
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Ann Chowning Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0242
    Physical Description: 2.4 Linear feet (6 archives boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1957-1994
    Abstract: Papers of Ann Chowning, American anthropologist, related to her fieldwork in Papua New Guinea among the Molima people of Milne Bay Province on Fergusson Island in 1957-1958 and 1975-1976, the Sengseng people of West New Britain Province in 1962-1966 and 1980-1981, and the Kove people of West New Britain Province in 1966-1968 and 1975-1976. Included are typescripts of field notes organized according to George Murdock's Human Relations Area Files arrangement, language notes largely comprising Sengseng vocabulary lists, essays by Chowning, and 35mm color slides documenting daily life, customs, song performances, and dance of people in West New Britain Province. The slides are complimentary to those found in Jane Goodale Papers (MSS 643) and cover those times when Chowning conducted joint fieldwork with her friend and co-fieldworker Jane Goodale in 1963-1964.

    Scope and Content of the Collection

    The Ann Chowning papers relate to some of Chowning's work in Papua New Guinea. The files included with this accession mainly pertain to her fieldwork among the Molima (Milne Bay Province, Fergusson Island, 1957-1958 and 1975-1976), the Sengseng (West New Britain, 1962-1966, and 1980-1981), and the Kove (West New Britain, 1966-1968 and 1975-1976) peoples. Materials contain Murdock's human relations area files, language notes, essays, and slides. The writings by Chowning are based on her long-term fieldwork conducted in West New Britain Province from 1954 through 1992. A significant part of this collection is slide materials from nearly 240 rolls taken while in West New Britain in 1963-1964. The slides cover those occasions when Chowning was doing joint fieldwork with Jane Goodale, her friend and co-fieldworker, who was working at that time among the Kaulong people in Umbi of West New Britain.
    The collection is arranged in four series: 1) HUMAN RELATIONS AREA FILES, 2) LANGUAGE NOTES, 3) WRITINGS BY CHOWNING, and 4) SLIDES.
    The HUMAN RELATIONS AREA FILES series contains typescript notes and photocopies of typescript notes extracted from field notes and compiled by Chowning according to subject categories described in George Murdock's classification system for cultural anthropology. Chowning brought together all pages dealing with a particular aspect of culture and compiled them preserving the chronological order in which they appear in her field notes. Compiled notes are extracted from field notes written while Chowning was among the Molima people of Milne Bay Province in 1957-1958 and 1975-1976, the Sengseng people in West New Britain Province in 1962-1966 and 1980-1981, and the Kove people of West New Britain in 1966-1968 and 1975-1976. The files are arranged in three subseries: A) Molima Materials, B) Sengseng Materials, and C) Kove Materials. Each subseries is arranged in numerical order according to numbers assigned to subject categories used in Murdock's classification system.
    The LANGUAGE NOTES series documents Chowning's study of Sengseng language in the field and contains handwritten and typewritten notes with vocabulary lists extracted from notebooks. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.
    The WRITINGS BY CHOWNING contains published and unpublished writings arranged in two subseries: A) General Writings and B) Grant Reports. The General Writings subseries contains typescripts and reprints of articles on various aspects of Melanesian culture, as well as typescripts of papers given at various conferences and meetings. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by title. The Grant Reports subseries consists of progress reports written to various granting agencies, including the National Science Foundation, and is arranged chronologically.
    The SLIDES series contains 35mm color slides and documents the joint fieldwork of Chowning and her co-fieldworker Jane Goodale in 1963-1964 while in New Britain. The slides were largely made when Chowning visited her friend in Umbi or on occasions when they traveled together from their field sites to nearby communities for the observation of rituals and celebrations. The slides are complementary to those found in Jane Goodale Papers (MSS 643) and document daily life, costumes, rituals, song performances, and dance. The series is arranged numerically using roll numbers assigned by Chowning.


    Ann Chowning, American anthropologist, received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her doctoral thesis was based on her 1954-1956 fieldwork with the Lakalai people of West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. She retired as professor of anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Earlier she taught at Bryn Mawr and Barnard Colleges in Pennsylvania and at the University of Papua New Guinea, and was a senior research fellow at the Australian National University. She carried out long-term fieldwork in four distinct Papua New Guinea societies from 1954 through 1992. Studied groups included the Lakalai of West New Britain Province, the Molima of Milne Bay Province on Fergusson Island, the Sengseng of West New Britain Province, and the Kove of West New Britain Province. She studied economic and religious organization, beliefs, practices and relations. Chowning especially focused on Austronesian languages and their comparative aspects, on folklore and religion, and on patterns of insanity.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Ann Chowning Papers, MSS 242. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1995, 1996, 2011, 2013.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Milne Bay Province (Papua New Guinea) -- Social life and customs
    West New Britain Province (Papua New Guinea) -- Social life and customs
    Oceania -- Anthropology
    Molima (Papua New Guinean people)
    Anthropology -- Oceania
    Kove (Papua New Guinean people)
    Sengseng (Papua New Guinean people)
    Anthropology -- Melanesia
    Chowning, Ann -- Archives