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Teeter, Karl V., 1929- Papers of Karl V. Teeter: an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 5
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Teeter, Karl V., 1929-
Title: Papers of Karl V. Teeter, 1769-2003 (inclusive), 1953-1998 (bulk).
Date(s): 1769-2003 (inclusive),
Date(s): 1953-1998 (bulk).
Quantity: 22 cubic feet (54 document boxes, 2 half document boxes, 18 cassette boxes, 1 1/2 microfilm box, and 1 16mm film canister)
Abstract: Karl van Duyn Teeter (1929-2007) was an American linguist who specialized in endangered Algic and Algonquian languages. These papers primarily document Teeter's linguistic research on the Wiyot and Maliseet-Passamaquoddy languages and his professional activities as a Professor of Linguistics in the Harvard University Department of Linguistics.

Acquisition Information:

Accession number: 17755; 2008 April 1.

Processing Note:

The collection was processed in 2010. Processing involved a collection survey, housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created byJuliana Kuipers in May 2010.

Conditions on Use and Access:

Permission of the Harvard University Archives is required for access to the Papers of Karl V. Teeter. Please see the reference staff for further details.

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Biographical Notes

Karl van Duyn Teeter (1929-2007) was an American linguist who specialized in endangered Algic and Algonquian languages, most notably Wiyot and Maliseet-Passamaquoddy (also known as Malecite-Passamaquoddy).
Born to Charles Edwin Teeter, Jr. (Harvard College Class of 1927) and Lura May Shaffner on March 2, 1929, Teeter was raised in Lexington, Massachusetts. He married Anita Maria Bonacorsi Teeter (Radcliffe AB 1951, Harvard EdM 1967, Ed 1978) in 1951; together they had four daughters.
After dropping out of high school in Lexington and holding a variety of jobs, Teeter joined the United States Army, serving from 1951-1954. While stationed in Japan, Teeter became interested in studying the Japanese language and linguistics in general. Upon returning to the United States in 1955, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied linguistics under Mary Haas. After receiving his BA in Oriental Languages in 1956, Teeter continued linguistic studies as a graduate student, concentrating on the endangered Native American language of Wiyot, spoken in Northern California. From 1956 to 1959, he made several field trips to study the language, working in particular with Della Prince, the last living speaker of Wiyot. His dissertation, The Wiyot Language, was completed in 1962 and published in 1964.
From 1959 to 1962, Teeter was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Appointed Assistant Professor of Linguistics in 1962, he remained at Harvard for his entire teaching career, retiring as Professor of Linguistics in 1989. At Harvard, Teeter regularly taught courses on Japanese linguistics, field methods in linguistics, history and theory of linguistics, and a survey course on the native languages of North America.
From 1969-1970, Teeter studied at the University of Tokyo under a Fulbright research fellowship. After his return to Harvard, however, he chose to concentrate his studies on Native American linguistics, rather than Japanese studies. In 1963, Teeter began his study of the Maliseet-Passamaquoddy (alternately known as Malecite-Passamaquoddy) language spoken in Maine and in New Brunswick, Canada. Together with Wiyot, Maliseet-Passamaquoddy became the main focus of Teeter's linguistic study. After his retirement in 1989, Teeter published a Wiyot Handbook in two volumes to follow up on his dissertation, and began working with Philip LeSourd on Maliseet texts Teeter gathered during his 1963 fieldwork. These texts were published in 2007 as Tales from Maliseet country : the Maliseet texts of Karl V. Teeter.
Teeter had a great interest in endangered languages, serving on the Board of Directors for the Endangered Language Fund from 1998 until his death on April 20, 2007.

Series and Subseries in theCollection

Scope of the Papers of Karl V. Teeter

The Papers of Karl V. Teeter document his work as an American linguist in the field of Native American languages, especially on the Native American languages Wiyot and Maliseet-Passamaquoddy. Containing Teeter's original research in the form of fieldnotes, audio recordings and file slips as well as secondary research (including photocopies of original sources by other linguists), the papers illustrate the enormous impact Teeter made on the field, such as his contribution, in the form of his Ph.D. dissertation and other writings, to the ending of the Ritwan controversy (the question of whether the Wiyot and Yurok languages are related to the Algonquian languages). They also illustrate his collaboration with other linguists, most notably with Philip LeSourd on Tales from Maliseet country : the Maliseet texts of Karl V. Teeter.
The papers also document Teeter's role as a Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University, containing extensive notes for lectures as well as field notebooks used in teaching courses on linguistic field methods.
The papers include correspondence, original linguistic research, research and subject files, records of Teeter's professional activities, a comprehensive set of his writings, materials from his undergraduate and graduate study, and a small amount of autobiographical material.

Inventory update

This inventory last updated 2016 August 11.

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