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Expeditionary notebooks and journals of Lorna and Laurence Marshall, 1928, 1951-1968 : A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University
October 2004


©2009 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 2003.36.1
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Expeditionary notebooks and journals of Lorna and Laurence Marshall, 1928, 1951-1968
Creator: Lorna and Laurence Marshall
Quantity: 1.6 linear feet
Abstract: Diaries, record books, and laboratory notebooks documenting Lorna and Laurence Marshall's journeys to Africa from 1951-1968 and their ethnographic research of the !Kung people of Nyae Nyae (now Nambia).

Processed by:

Beth Bayley Simmons College intern; edited by India Spartz, Senior Archivist
October 2004

Acquisition Information:

These papers are a gift of John Kennedy Marshall and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Access Restrictions:


Use Restrictions:

Copyright access is restricted (see accession file)

Biographical Sketch

Lorna Jean McLean Marshall, born September 14, 1898 in Morenci, Arizona territory, married Laurence Kennedy Marshall in 1926 and had two children: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, born 1931, and John Kennedy Marshall, born 1932. Lorna, a teacher at Mount Holyoke College before her marriage, received a BA from UC Berkeley (English Literature) in 1921, and an MA (English) from Radcliffe College in 1928. Laurence, born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1889, attended Tufts University and co-founded Raytheon Corporation in 1922. He worked at Raytheon until retiring in 1950, after which Laurence took his son, John, to the Kalahari Desert in Africa. According to Laurence's obituary, he wanted to do something constructive upon retirement that included spending time with his family. The following year, the Marshall family went to Africa to undertake ethnographic research on the !Kung people of the Nyae Nyae (now Namibia).
Despite their lack of training in the field, the family was profoundly affected by their time spent in the Kalahari, and with the !Kung and related tribes. The family returned to Africa several times over the next two decades, sometimes for periods extending more than a year. Lorna began studying anthropology and ethnology and eventually became a leading authority on the Bushmen. Over the years, she published numerous articles and several books: The !Kung of Nyae Nyae (1976) and Nyae Nyae !Kung Beliefs and Rites (1999). During this time, Elizabeth also began writing and eventually published several books: The Secret Life of Dogs and The Harmless People (1959). John Marshall utilized his role as cameraman to become an accomplished documentary film maker and an advocate for Bushmen's rights.
Laurence died in 1980 and Lorna in 2002, leaving behind a legacy of research on what became, according to Lorna's obituary, one of the world's most studied groups of traditional hunter-gatherers.


Scope and Content Note

According to Nyae Nyae !Kung Beliefs and Rites, Lorna told Toma (a Bushmen), "they [the Marshall family] believed it good for people with different ways of life to learn to understand each other as best they could." This collection of diaries and logs reflects Lorna's beliefs and the anthropological journals record detailed observations on Bushmen activities, practices, and communication techniques amongst themselves and the Marshall family. Lorna also writes about the difficulties of ethnographic work; the loneliness of being in Africa and removed from her familiar world in America.
Although these journals cover the Marshall's journeys to Africa from 1951 to 1968, they also provide many details: Laurence K. Marshall's "record books" encompass records of daily accounts, expenditures, travel planning information (packing lists, distance and mileage, etc) and contact information of various associates. Also included are Laurence's logs and items such as a financing plan regarding a film study center and a copy of the Harvard Crimson containing a review of John Marshall's film about the Bushmen (item 2003.36.1.22).

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