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56-50

Wulsin, Frederick Roelker (1891-1961) Negatives (1921-1924): A Finding Aid

Peabody Museum Archives
Harvard University
2012

[link]

c2012

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University
Call No.: 56-50
Location: Peabody Museum Archives
Title: Wulsin, Frederick Roelker (1891-1961) Negatives
Date(s): 1921-1924
Creator: Frederick Roelker Wulsin
Quantity: 2,021 images
Abstract: This negative collection is a subset of a large photography donation by Wulsin which includes approximately19,046 prints, negatives and lantern slides and is augmented by papers and manuscripts that document expeditions to China, Southeast Asia, the Belgian Congo, French Equatorial Africa, and the Near East. The negatives date from 1921 -- 1924 and document Wulsin's travels to the Chinese province of Shansi and his National Geographic sponsored expedition to Northwest China. The negatives were digitized in 2012 through an NEH grant and can be viewed at the Peabody Museum Collections Online website at http://pmem.unix.fas.harvard.edu:8080/peabody/

Processing supervised by:

India Spartz Senior Archivist; 2011

Acquisition Information:

#56-50
Donated by Frederick Roelker Wulsin, 1955-1957

Access Restrictions:

unrestricted.

Biographical Sketch

Born in 1891, Frederick Roelker Wulsin graduated from Harvard in 1913 with a B.A. in Philosophy and studied one additional year towards an M.A. in Civil Engineering. He went to East Africa and Madagascar in 1914 and 1915 and collected zoological specimens for the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, worked for a machinery export company in 1916-17, and later served as an intelligence officer in World War I.
After World War I, Wulsin decided to pursue a career combining scientific exploration and specimen collecting. In 1921, Wulsin embarked for China with his wife, Janet, and another couple, Henry and Susanne Emery. The expedition goals included gathering useful scientific records concerning zoology, meteorology, geology, botany, and recording observations regarding position and relative altitude. In addition, the expedition members observed economic, political, and social activities, spending five months traveling in the province of Shansi. In 1923, the National Geographic Society sponsored Wulsin's expeditions to the Northwest borders of China, and in 1924 to Southwest China,Vietnam, and Laos. Together, the Wulsins collected 1,400 botanical and zoological specimens and documented Buddhist rituals. They also took hundreds of photographs, documented tribespeople and desert landscapes, and were even allowed to photograph the interior of several of the great Tibetan Buddhist lamaseries, usually not allowed for Western visitors. Wulsin donated the resulting zoological specimen collection to Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology which helped fund the expedition.
Subsequently, Wulsin returned to Harvard in 1925, obtained an M.A. (1926) and Ph.D. (1929) in anthropology, his thesis topic: cultural development in Africa's Shari Basin. In the 1930s, Wulsin served as curator of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and later lectured at Boston University. During this time, Janet and Frederick Wulsin divorced and Wulsin married the widowed Susanne Emery, a former China Expedition member.
The Wulsin China expedition produced over 2,000 photographs, 28 of which are featured in the National Geographic Magazine article: "The Road to Wang Yeh Fu" (February, 1926). In 1957, Wulsin donated this rare photographic record to The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard, where it is kept in the Archives along with his photos of Africa, the Near East and an archaeological expedition to Iran (1930-31).

Sources:

Scope and Content Note:

This negative collection is a subset of a large photography donation by Wulsin which includes approximately19,046 prints, negatives and lantern slides that document expeditions to China,Southeast Asia, the Belgian Congo,French Equatorial Africa, and the Near East. The negatives date from 1921 -- 1924 and capture Wulsin's travels to the Chinese province of Shansi and his National Geographic sponsored expedition to Northwest China. The collection provides a permanent record of disappearing ways of life. The photographs depict daily life, dress, rituals, housing, transport, travel, rural, and urban scenes. The majority of the collection documents China's northwestern frontiers during the 1920s, and records ancient societies of Mongolia and Tibet. The Wulsin material also provides an incomparable resource for students and researchers concerned with the history of Muslim minorities and architecture. The negatives have been digitized through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Images can be viewed at the Peabody Museum's Collections Online website at: http://pmem.unix.fas.harvard.edu:8080/peabody/
Search by Peabody number begins with 56-55-60/ and artist contains Wulsin.

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