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Farabee, William Curtis, (1865-1925). Collection of Negatives, 1902-1909: A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University


©2008 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 August 29

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 2004.24 (E)
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Farabee, William Curtis, (1865-1925). Collection of Negatives,
Date(s): 1902-1909
Creator: William Curtis Farabee
Quantity: 244 negatives
Abstract: The collection includes negatives and X-rays of various Davy family members who were afflicted with brachydactyly (excessively shortened tubular bones in hands and feet). Also included, are negatives of ruins, architectural elements, landscapes, and indigenous people taken during the Peabody Museum-sponsored South American Expedition.

Processed by:

Staff of 2007-2008 NEH grant; finding aid created by Melissa Gonzales Simmons College intern; edited by India Spartz, Senior Archivist, 2/2008.

Acquisition Information:

These negatives are part of the core negative collection at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University and reflect research and field work undertaken during the Peabody Museum-sponsored expedition, South American Expedition; W. C. Farabee and Louis J. de Grenow de Milhau – Ethnological and linguistic studies, 1906-1909.

Access Restrictions:

Most views are unrestricted except for culturally sensitive images. Permission to view culturally sensitive images may be obtained from the Peabody Museum's curatorial department.

Use Restrictions:

As the negatives have been digitized and are on the Peabody Museum Collections Online website, researchers are encouraged to view the images online at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm .

Biographical Sketch

William Curtis Farabee was born in 1865 and was the second candidate to receive a Ph.D. in physical anthropology at Harvard. Although Farabee is more widely known as an anthropologist and ethnographer, he also studied human genetics under William E. Castle while at Harvard. His dissertation, Hereditary and Sexual Influences in Meristic Variation: A Study of Digital Malformations in Man, discussed the disorder brachydactyly, and was eventually published in 1903.
Dr. Farabee embarked on three trips to South America as a researcher for the Peabody Museum at Harvard and the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Museum). From 1906-1908, he led the De Milhau-Harvard expedition; his findings were published in 1922 as Indian Tribes of Eastern Peru.
From 1913-1916, Dr. Farabee launched a second expedition which was sponsored by the Penn Museum. During this trip, he explored areas in the Amazon Basin: the Guiana Highlands, the Ucayali River, the island of Marajó , and an area between the Tapajóz and Xingú Rivers. Farabee noted the location of many archaeological sites and many of the artifacts he found were sent to the Penn Museum. The results of this expedition were published as part of a series for the Penn Museum, Philadelphia. In 1918, The Central Arawaks was published, and The Central Caribs was released in 1924.
In 1917, Dr. Farabee served as the Secretary for the Proceedings of the annual meeting for the American Anthropological Association while Dr. Alfred M. Tozzer was called to military service during World War I. In 1918, Farabee traveled to Paris and served as ethnographer for the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.
In addition to the works listed above, Dr. Farabee published his findings in the Museum Journal and Geographic Review. Eventually, he was appointed Curator of the American Section of the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.
As a result of his South American expeditions, Dr. William Curtis Farabee developed pernicious anemia (a vitamin B12 deficiency); he died on June 24, 1925 in Washington, Pennsylvania.


Scope and Content Note

In 1902, William Curtis Farabee conducted physical anthropology studies in Pennsylvania, and the negatives of the Davy family are a result of this research. The Davy family images were captured on glass plate negatives and X-rays. Besides one 5"x7" glass plate negative of Stonehenge, the images include glass plate and nitrate negatives from Farabee's Peabody Museum-sponsored expedition to South America with Louis J. de Grenow de Milhau from 1906-1909. This collection is part of the Peabody Museum's core negative collection, which is being digitized under a 2007-2008 National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Images can be viewed at the Peabody Museum's Collections Online website at http://www.peabody.harvard.edu/col/default.cfm
There does not appear to be any formal arrangement; however, the negatives are ordered by Peabody negative number and are generally grouped by expedition or location. Therefore, an artificial series based on place/site has been created for this collection.

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