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museum anthropology

the hearst museum of anthropology, the new deal, and a reassessment of the ‘‘dark age’’ of the museum in the united states
Samuel Redman
university of california, berkeley
abstract This article examines the claim that the period between the dawn of the Great Depression and conclusion of the Second World War was a ‘‘dark age’’ for the discipline of anthropology in museums. It argues that while museums in the United States encountered numerous common challenges due to the economic downturn and outbreak of war, the period also presented a number of opportunities, especially through the arrival of labor through New Deal work-relief agencies. This article focuses on what is now known as the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The narrative of the Hearst Museum during this era works to complicate our understanding of the ‘‘museum period’’ in the United States. [history, New Deal, museum period, Hearst Museum]

A growing body of historical literature exists on museums in the United States, yet much of it ignores the span from the Great Depression to the Second World War. Scholars of museum history largely agree that museums rapidly expanded both intellectually and physically from the late 19th century into the early 20th century and this period has virtually dominated most scholarship regarding museum history in the United States (Conn 1998; Harris 1962; Stocking 1985). Many of these same scholars argue that before the close of the 1930s, universities largely replaced museums at the forefront of academic research. The existing literature tends to suggest that the Great Depression and Second World War were completely unproductive and nonillustrious for the museum. Complicating this declension narrative is the fact that museums did continue to produce new knowledge while expanding their role in popular education in the United States. Historians portray the replacement of the museum by the university as a center of cultural production for the United States as both clean and harsh.

For instance, cultural anthropology and archaeology, fields previously centered in museums across the country, are represented as shifting to the academy virtualight as the major proponents of the field began pursuing a more theoretical approach to their disciplines. As intellectual and cultural historians turned their attentions to the growing university in the United States, the museum was left understudied. Historian and anthropologist Ira Jacknis (2006a:521) has called these the ‘‘dark ages’’ of the museum in the United States. George W. Stocking argues that, ‘‘by the outbreak of the second World War . . . museum anthropology [was] stranded in an institutional, methodological, and theoretical backwater’’ (1985:8). This narrative, however, leaves wide gaps in our historical understanding of the museum during this period. This paper explores the history of museum anthropology from the Great Depression to the Second World War, focusing mainly on the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. This paper complicates the claim that museum anthropology fell into an utterly silent and unproductive dark age during this era, examining the whole of the Hearst Museum’s collecting practices, exhibitions, collections management strategies, cataloguing, research, conservation, and community outreach. In particular, the implementation of New Deal programs had a major influence on the course of museum history in the United States, especially within departments of anthropology where generations of collecting left scores of materials uncatalogued, uncared for, and largely forgotten. The ideological goals of the New Deal, which strove to put unemployed laborers back to work while providing them with practical on-the-job training, complemented the needs of the museums during this time. As the economic downturn left museums with little funding to acquire new collections or craft large exhibitions, the previous generation of scholars left museums with scores of unorganized collections in dire need of attention. New Deal labor supplied a partial solution, contributing millions of person-hours previously unavailable to even the larger and better funded of museums in the United States. Lost within the statistics of person-hours and number of work-relief laborers arriving at the museum is the fact that the New Deal reignited a

Museum Anthropology, Vol. 34, Iss. 1, pp. 43–55 & 2011 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1379.2010.01106.x

hearst museum of anthropology

significant aspect of American cultural production centered in museums. By approaching the museum through its involvement with New Deal workers, this article aims to redirect the questions surrounding the health of museums throughout the 20th century. In casting this era as a simple ‘‘dark age,’’ the massive impact of the New Deal on museums in the United States has been neglected; yet, it is made clear here that museums cannot be judged by the reputation of affiliated scholars alone. My argument is perhaps counterintuitiveFthe constraints of the Great Depression and Second World War actually helped foster the explosion of intellectual and popular interest that occurred in museums in the United States in the postwar era. A major reason for these advancements was the help of temporary New Deal workers, who organized museum catalogues and cared for collections at the Hearst Museum as well as at numerous other museums around the country. Simply stated, the role of New Deal labor in preserving collective American cultural heritage is substantial and merits a place in museum history. The museum in this particular case study struggled with its facilities, staff, and exhibitions during this period, yet also made strides that directly led to even greater advancements in the postwar era. Hearst Museum Origins The founding patron of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology was Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842– 1919), who funded and organized the museum’s creation in 1901. Hearst supported the total efforts of the department and museum fiscally for the first seven years of its existence (Benedict 1991:26). Her philanthropy to the new University of California, Berkeley Department of Anthropology and Museum of Anthropology reflected a desire to encourage research within newly professionalizing academic disciplines in Berkeley. Hearst made a conscious decision to postpone the development of these entities as teaching centers, instead favoring innovative research (Jacknis 1993:27). Her idea fit well within the university’s overall plan to develop into a major research university; it also fit well within the contemporary conceptual framework of a museumcum-research center.

One of the most significant decisions Hearst Museum founders made was to hire a young anthropologist named Alfred L. Kroeber. Kroeber, a student of Franz Boas at Columbia University, was hired as an instructor at the university and curator of the museum after completing his doctorate in 1901 (Jacknis 2006b). By this time, Boas was well established within American anthropology and his students were starting to make significant contributions to the field. In the early years of the museum, Boas, in addition to Frederic Ward Putnam, the director of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, advised Hearst in museum organization and methods. Putnam had directed efforts previously at the World’s Columbian Exposition and would later help guide the efforts of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) through a dual appointment with Harvard (Browman 2002:515). By this time then, Putnam was well suited for building the new department envisioned by Hearst, and he became the institution’s official director. In that capacity, he offered intellectual guidance for the new museum, but spent the majority of his time on the East Coast. Most day-to-day responsibilities at the museum then fell to Kroeber, who would assume the directorship in 1925. In fact, Kroeber’s official appointment to the directorship came after he had already begun to spend a majority of his time teaching (Jacknis 1993:27). The new department and museum moved to establish itself in the mold of older East Coast institutions, yet it recognized its unique position to obtain significant collections reflecting the material culture, physical anthropology, and history of California Indians. Originally interested in collections that systematicallyFand globallyFdocumented ‘‘The History of Man and his Works’’ (University of California Museum of Anthropology 1920:3), after 1905, the museum shifted its collecting and research efforts to the study and documentation of California Indians. This was likely the result of a survey of California Native American cultures that was announced in 1903, a development that would ultimately lead to Kroeber’s (1925) landmark work Handbook of the Indians of California (see Benedict 1991:27). As Kroeber’s stature grew within American anthropology, curatorial responsibilities for the Hearst Museum began shifting to another scholar, Edward Gifford. Gifford became an assistant curator in 1912

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and served in capacities of growing significance to the museum until his death in 1959 (Jacknis 1993: 30–31). Gifford’s formal education ended in high school, yet his growing interest in anthropology and, specifically, museum anthropology allowed him an unusually distinguished and productive career. Gifford came to the museum having worked for the California Academy of Sciences, and advanced to full curator by 1925 (Foster 1960:327). Kroeber’s most active years as a museum anthropologist fell between 1908 and 1912; following this period Kroeber spent less time at the museum and more of his time teaching. Despite Gifford’s growing role at the museum, Kroeber continued to remain involved until 1960 (Jacknis 1993:30). In the museum’s first 20 years, it hosted 334,567 visitors.1 It featured a modest exhibit space that, already by 1920, could only display half of the museum’s growing collections (University of California Museum of Anthropology 1920). When the museum moved from San Francisco to Berkeley in 1931, however, its visibility to the public significantly declined. Kroeber lobbied the university administration for the construction of a new building, but it became clear that the economic climate would not allow the budget for such a facility. While Kroeber’s attempts to lobby for new facilities were met with frustration, other museums were successful in expanding their facilities. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago had opened a larger museum building in 1921.2 The University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania opened a new wing in 1929.3 By 1936, the AMNH in New York would open a sparkling new rotunda, welcoming visitors from Central Park.4 The leadership at the Hearst Museum, meanwhile, maintained hope that private donors would sponsor the construction of a new facility. Even as other museums struggled with internal funding, the Hearst Museum’s inability to construct or expand facilities gave the appearance that it was falling well behind in every aspect of museum management. Almost immediately after the economic meltdown of 1929, many museum leaders shifted their rhetoric to emphasize fiscal responsibility. An annual report for the Peabody Museum at Harvard University (1932–1933) reads, ‘‘In spite of these difficult times, the Museum has been fortunate in its progress. With the practice of the strictest economy, seven ex-

peditions have been put in the field . . . and the task of reorganizing its collections has gone steadily forward’’ (Harvard University 1932–1933:296). The rhetoric of fiscal responsibility would grow increasingly common during the course of the Depression and this made justifying the construction of new facilities a challenge, especially for museums supported by various levels of government, which were already reeling in the economic depression. Private institutions, too, hoped to make a case for fiscal responsibility to private donors often inclined to curtail their philanthropic efforts during challenging economic times. Kroeber, meanwhile, was not only fighting for space to store collections, he was also fighting for the Hearst Museum’s existence as a semi-autonomous institution. After he caught word that there were discussions to combine the university’s anthropology and art museums, Kroeber sent a memo directly to the university administration. He wrote, ‘‘anthropology is partly a natural science and partly a social science, and that therefore too close an affiliation with art would be misrepresentative and prejudicial.’’5 The university administration had hoped to save space and funds by combining the institutions, and although university leaders believed the goal to make sense intellectually, the idea failed due to disciplinary concerns. One group of authors characterized Kroeber’s quest for a new facility as a story ‘‘of heartbreak and delay’’ (Steward et al. 1961:1045). The museum no longer had permanent space for exhibitions, and the cancellation of an expected donation from the Hearst family toward the construction of a new building, coupled with worsening economic times, ensured that another new facility would not be completed until 1960 (Benedict 1991:27). Kroeber, however disappointed he might have been that his proposals for a new building were consistently being turned down, maintained that research, not exhibition, was the most significant role for the museum. Exhibition was a desirable aspect of the university-based museum, but it was clearly secondary to the need to produce new research through the study and acquisition of new collections. As the economic landscape worsened after the stock market crash of 1929, the Hearst Museum’s budgetary constraints deteriorated from bad to worse. The shift from gift-based funding to the

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university payroll resulted in a severe reduction in the museum’s budget. Perhaps as significant was the decision to relegate the museum to a temporary facility in the Civil Engineering building, with only two rooms designated for occasional exhibitions.6 This arrangement, organized by the university’s administration, intended to offer a compromise; however, it managed to upset both Kroeber and the Civil Engineering Department.7 With the combination of an extreme budget crisis, as well as an almost total lack of adequate facilities, it would be easy to assume that the University of California Museum of Anthropology suffered a virtual shutdown in the coming years. And yet, this moment of crisis also created numerous opportunitiesFboth internally and externally driven Ffor reorganizing collections, creating original research, and teaching students. Moving the collections from San Francisco to Berkeley caused certain aspects of the museum operations to change, while others remained essentially the same. Naturally, changing facilities led the curatorial staff to think less about permanent exhibition strategies than before, as the facilities in Berkeley possessed little space for display. Abandoning permanent exhibitions, however, did not expunge display from the minds of Gifford and Kroeber. In fact, the museum’s curators may have invested more time thinking about short-term exhibitions than they did thinking about permanent exhibitions that could be left in place for a number of years. While it is clear that research was their primary goal for the use of the collection, the museum’s leadership was still also committed to utilizing the collections for display. The exhibitions in the new museum were to change yearly or on a semester-by-semester basis depending on the available budget. Because both Kroeber and Gifford held dual appointments as instructors at the university, the exhibitions at the museum were arranged to assist in teaching students in anthropology courses.8 Collections selected for display served the particular purposes of teaching a variety of audiences, often through the mediation of a university instructor for undergraduates, or a student docent for younger audiences. Former museum programs aimed at public outreach were temporarily shelved; a lecture program for elementary school students was dropped because of a total lack of budget as well as a chronic lack of space to host visitors.9

Because the museum had a stated policy of not allowing undergraduates to handle collections maintained for permanent preservation, undergraduates experienced the collections only in the ways in which the curatorial staff saw fit.10 Graduate students, on the other hand, could gain experience conducting anthropological research before entering the field to conduct the ethnographic fieldwork typically expected for a dissertation of that era (Buzalijko 1993). Although graduate students had freer access to collections than did their undergraduate counterparts, Kroeber very often guided the more advanced students to study particular collections he felt to be in need of attention. This process of learning through museum collections made graduate students particularly important to the development of the museum during this period, as they often produced new research on previously unstudied collections.11 Although this practice varied by institution, depending on the personality of the instructors, the Hearst’s policies in this area appear to have been similar to other university museum policies of the era. Despite budgetary constraints and limited storage space, Kroeber believed that the work of staff and graduate students was to help the collections become increasingly well organized. By 1933 he announced, ‘‘The Museum is now one of the most completely inventoried and intensively classified in the country.’’12 Although Kroeber may have exaggerated the success of the museum’s collections management strategies, his enthusiasm about the state of the collections complicates the previously envisioned state of disarray of the institution during this period. The museum’s collection may have been well organized, but researchers still faced the cumbersome task of organizing specific collections by region, culture, or type, as the museum’s cataloguing systems remained limited. Evolving Acquisition Policy During the interwar period, the Hearst Museum worked to develop a collections strategy that sought to address the somewhat haphazard method of collecting the museum had originally adopted. The reconceptualized strategy emphasized the continued efforts of professional collectors, including current and former graduate students and the curatorial staff, while attempting to fill the gaps left by previous

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collectors. The main goal was to build a collection that was both intellectually and institutionally coherent. Kroeber himself set some of the standards for professional collecting. Many of his collections, intended to represent the material culture of California Indians, were built in the first decade of the 20th century before the publication of his seminal Handbook of the Indians of California.13 Analogous to Kroeber’s massive survey of California Indians, his collections were broad but lacked serious depth of the particular tribes he studied. Kroeber’s work as a salvage ethnographer drove his attempts to ‘‘salvage’’ the language and material culture of California thought to be disappearing (Jacknis 1993:27). Kroeber’s vision of a museum grew to include one where not only the material culture and human remains of rapidly disappearing and changing cultures would be maintained but also one in which documents and recordings of language and song would be stored. Despite the lack of permanent exhibition space, the museum’s anthropological collection attracted an increasing number of general inquiries from the public throughout the Great Depression.14 Museums during this period received a near constant stream of letters offering objects of varying significance for purchase. Even before the Depression, the Hearst Museum was in no position to buy objects, even if they were of intellectual interest for teaching or research. In response to one inquiry, Kroeber noted that the museum was ‘‘interested but impoverished.’’15 He responded to another offer by noting that most public museums were ‘‘doing practically no buying,’’ but if the inquirer were feeling ‘‘philanthropically inclined’’ the museum would be happy to accept the objects as a donation.16 By the early 1940s, the curatorial staff of the University of California had in place an institutional and intellectual policy to reject buying most collections.17 By the Second World War, Kroeber and Gifford were responding to offers of sales more firmly, insisting that few public museums were still purchasing collections, and even then only select pieces or collections.18 Gifford and Kroeber were keenly aware of the sections of the collection that were considered weak in comparison with those in other major anthropology museums. Even while purchasing collections was rare, donations that would fill those cultural and historical gaps were readily accepted.19 Kroeber, as a

fieldworker, preferred to collect objects that had been used in what he considered a traditional fashion, and would only collect newer objects as reproductions or models. With a lack of funding for purchasing collections and severe budgetary restrictions in mounting museum-run collecting expeditions, it might be assumed that this led to a total halt in the development of collections outside of the aforementioned type of private donations; yet, this does not prove to be the case. Although the museum was unable to acquire every object or collection on its wish list, it did embark on a series of low-cost and creative endeavors that helped the collection both grow and become more focused. These types of endeavors were not unique to the Hearst Museum, yet an analysis of these collections development projects has largely been nonexistent in the museum studies literature and the scholarship surrounding the history of museums. In 1931, even as the museum made its move across the San Francisco Bay, it exchanged a moderately large number of objects with other institutions, including the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, the AMNH, and the University of Utah.20 Although it was in no position to mount expeditions to Egypt, Peru, or even the American Southwest, such exchanges allowed it to build upon existing strengths or improve areas of weakness at little expense. Exchanges continued to occur frequently during the Great Depression and Second World War, allowing the museum to redress perceived intellectual incoherence in its collections. These exchanges were not limited to transactions with other museums. In 1939, Gifford collaborated with a California automobile dealer who discovered on his ranch skeletal material and ‘‘other artifacts.’’ Once Gifford learned that the man was interested in archaeology, he offered him a series of museum publications related to the discipline in exchange for his collection. The man accepted these with pleasure, and the museum moved to acquire the collection at virtually no cost.21 In addition to exchanges and private donations, a number of acquisitions came through the work of graduate students and faculty members. Graduate students, including Robert Heizer, who earned a doctorate in 1941, worked with other archaeologists to conduct archaeological surveys in California and Nevada throughout the 1930s. Heizer regularly took

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weekend trips around California during the spring and fall, building survey collections that were catalogued over the winter months. Heizer also spent several summer field seasons with faculty collecting in California and Nevada, aided by private sponsorship.22 Heizer joined the University of California, Los Angeles faculty briefly before returning to Berkeley in 1946. The culmination of his work led to a formalized University of California Archaeological Survey in 1948. Heizer’s archaeological surveys reflected the intellectual commitment the museum had made to California, but they also reflected a limited budget. Although anthropologists and archaeologists in the United States managed to conduct some research abroad during this period, funds were nearly always meager. In 1940, when another University of California archaeologist and physical anthropologist, Theodore McCown, received an unsolicited proposal for funding from another archaeologist hoping to travel to the Middle East, he responded by explaining that a lack of funds kept the Hearst Museum from supporting any outside proposals, especially those supporting projects on other continents: ‘‘With minor exceptions, the general understanding is that [the] University appropriation, is to be expended primarily on research conducted in the state of California and certainly, at most, not outside of North America.’’23 Purchases, though rare, were not entirely unheard of. The museum’s limited purchases were typically of professionally acquired ethnographic or archaeological collections that had come up for sale and were purchased with the support of direct philanthropic donations. In one example from 1931, University of California president Robert Gordon Sproul solicited five donors to contribute US$100 each in order to purchase a specific collection.24 In a November 1945 memo, Kroeber reflected on the University of California’s Department of Anthropology’s programs related to the archaeology of California, Nevada, and Oregon. Limited resources were again the overriding theme, but Kroeber noted a number of successes. The museum had managed to collect ‘‘the largest collection from the area on assembly anywhere,’’ which ‘‘will be basic in all future intensive studies.’’25 In the midst of the Great Depression, the Hearst Museum had thus reframed its acquisition strategies due to intellectual and eco48

nomic changes. These intellectual changes would be complemented by an infusion of new labor a few years after the economic crash. Reorganization and the New Deal New Deal projects had a major impact on museums across the United States. Museums embraced labor from several major work-relief agencies, including the Civil Works Administration (CWA), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the National Youth Administration (NYA). More specifically, laborers from relief agencies were put to work on two major tasks: building new exhibit spaces and organizing existing collections. A centerpiece of the relationship between museums and the New Deal was the WPA’s Museum Extension Project (MEP). The MEP crafted new works of art, dioramas, and exhibitions for museums throughout the country. The program worked with a wide range of museums, from local history museums to major natural history and art museums. An example of the program’s outreach was the construction of a large number of new miniature dioramas, intended to teach visitors about subjects ranging from human prehistory and Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde, to the French Revolution. Many museums considered the dioramas to be an inexpensive and popular method for refurbishing portions of outdated exhibitions.26 Although the small WEP dioramas provided a relatively quick and inexpensive fix to outdated exhibitions, the most important aspect of the New Deal for museums in the United States was the availability of new labor for larger projects. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acknowledged the contribution of their New Deal programs, noting, ‘‘The museum is indebted to the Works Projects Administration for the substantial contribution of WPA employees to the work of almost all departments’’ (Taylor 1942:164, emphasis added). Using the Hearst Museum as an example, it is clear that the impact of New Deal programs on museums in the United States is vast, yet its influence in museums is grossly understudied and therefore widely unappreciated by scholars of the history of museums. The Hearst Museum utilized NYA and WPA assistants in a variety of ways between 1936 and 1942. This included research, laboratory, and clerical work, as well as work with collections. In completing an

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extensive classification of California shell artifacts in the museum, Gifford utilized a steady flow of teenaged NYA assistants; he later published a book as well as several journal articles on this work (Gifford 1946, 1949). The most important WPA project at the Hearst Museum, however, began in 1939. During the two-year project, the museum utilized the WPA employees to prepare a complete card copy of the catalogues. The annual report for 1939 outlined the project’s goal, ‘‘This will permit a grouping of the specimen records by locality and type, instead of merely regional and inventory number.’’27 That year alone, five WPA workers assisted in inventory cataloguing while five NYA workers assisted Gifford in his typological classifications of California archaeology.28 The card catalogue was a valuable addition to the museum’s resources for researchers. Classifications and arrangements of objects that modern museum professionals take for granted were not possible with the museum’s limited system of paper catalogues. Although older catalogues grouped objects by region, and then by accession group or individual catalogue number, the new catalogue card system allowed researchers to explore classifications made possible in the past, ‘‘only by physical segregation of objects, which limitations of space frequently interfere with.’’29 Within a few years, the new card catalogue allowed researchers to complete their work with more rapidity and permitted them to increase the complexity and variety of their studies. In 1939, the museum’s annual report indicated nine research projects of various sizes based on museum collections (as opposed to museum-sponsored field research) conducted by both external and internal scholars.30 By 1943, the museum reported a dozen projects; in 1945, that number had increased to 14.31 This occurred before the research explosion that took place after the close of the Second World War and the increase in graduate students as a result of the GI Bill, and during the period when many graduate students and young scholars were being pulled into various kinds of wartime service. The Hearst Museum’s utilization of New Deal Era programs was far from unique. The Field Museum offers an interesting comparison. Between 1930 and 1939, the Field’s Department of Anthropology enlisted a total of 44 noncuratorial staff members. During the 1920s, the Field had funds to employ only

one noncuratorial staff member. When the New Deal ended, the department’s staff was again reduced, having only 14 noncuratorial staff in the 1940s. The Field did not reach New Deal-levels of anthropology staff again until the 1990s. In Chicago, as in Berkeley, New Deal staffers helped catalogue new accessions and organize information for curatorial publications (Nash and Feinman 2003:70–80). The Smithsonian Institution, too, enlisted the help of New Deal work-relief agencies. Although New Deal agencies contributed both labor and works of art to Smithsonian museums, the contributions of workrelief agencies were perhaps most complete at the United States National Museum (USNM). While early incarnations of work-relief agencies contributed labor to the Smithsonian in the early years of the New Deal, the arrival of WPA laborers in 1936 provided a more systematic form of labor The WPA program at the USNM would eventually grow so large that it required its own central office, where staff oversaw the timesheets and recorded the projects of laborers. In addition to major cataloguing work, the USNM utilized New Deal labor to organize library materials, mount specimens, and translate foreign documents (Smithsonian Institution 1936:22). At its peak in 1938, the Smithsonian possessed 167 workers (Smithsonian Institution 1938:26), but lost its WPA assistance in 1940 due to budget shortfalls. When it became clear that funds for WPA assistance at the Smithsonian were running low, curators in anthropology appealed for the continuation of the program in their department. In an internal memorandum written in 1939 (and typed, no less, by a WPA stenographer), H. W. Krieger noted that it took months to fully train a new employee. He explained, ‘‘An incoming W.P.A. worker feels lost. He or she has had no professional training in ethnology but has been selected for special intelligence and a more or less developed mastery of technique along the line of the proposed assignment of duties.’’32 Once the worker was trained, however, they became a major asset to the department. Krieger noted, ‘‘As arrearages in the cataloguing, classification, and placement of specimens are caught up with new problems of a similar nature are constantly brought before the workers in the form of incoming collections.’’ Not only were the cataloguing efforts of WPA workers making new forms of research possible, they were

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preserving data and collections for future generations. Krieger appealed: ‘‘the work of the individual W.P.A. workers . . . has a permanent value in that records of collections are being made in permanent form and the preservation of specimens has become a major object of effort.’’ Despite the efforts of Smithsonian curators, the New Deal program was terminated. During the program’s four-year run, the Smithsonian received 248,196 person-hours from internal New Deal laborers. USNM officials lamented the termination, ‘‘Aside from the care given by the W.P.A. help in arranging and preserving the study collections, the cataloguing and number of specimens were of direct aid to research, for the material thus handled became readily available for the study by our own staff and by other technical workers’’ (Smithsonian Institution 1940:27). In addition to internal museum work, New Deal programs also contributed to new archaeological surveys around the country, largely supervised by the Smithsonian. Laborers from the CWA, WPA, and the Civilian Conservation Corps contributed to archaeological projects in 24 states over the course of nine years. These surveys resulted in new collections for the Smithsonian as well as numerous other museums around the country. For example, a USNM survey supervised by archaeologist William Duncan Strong in the upper San Joaquin Valley, beginning in 1933, was staffed mainly by CWA laborers and resulted in the collection of 1,607 archaeological objects that were later donated to the Hearst Museum.33 The impact of New Deal agencies on museums in the United States is difficult to overstate, yet dependence on such programs in museums throughout the country was not entirely universal. The programs did produce a workforce that was largely efficient and productive, but the lack of long-term stability prevented the program from having an even larger impact.34 The WPA, which contributed the largest number of temporary workers to museums in the United States, was not even formed until 1935, six years after the initial economic crash. Although the bulk of archival material about the New Deal praises its utility for museums, sporadic complaints appear about worker laziness and the amount of time needed to train new laborers.35 Further, the call for WPAtype labor was not always clear across the entire

spectrum of museum anthropology, as not all museum leaders appear to have agreed with the liberal ideology of the New Deal. One year before the formation of the WPA, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University raised private funds to hire student employees. Volunteer programs at the Peabody Museum were successful and growing in the early 1930s. The Peabody Museum even noted the effectiveness of student employees, arguing that, ‘‘A careful estimate of these students’ services gave the remarkable result that though their work was necessarily intermittent and at first untrained, it was more than eighty per cent as efficient as that of trained, full-time employees’’ (Harvard University 1933–1934:306). The Peabody Museum’s wealthy benefactors are seemingly unique, however. Museums such as the Hearst Museum and the Field were more typical in experiencing the surge of activity accompanying the labor of the New Deal. The Peabody Museum did not emphasize the use of New Deal agencies in the same manner as did many of their counterparts, but they did strive to utilize new labor in order to build more comprehensive collections. The Peabody Museum, like other museums concerned with anthropology during this period, was growing increasingly concerned with acquiring what were believed to be representative collections, rather than objects believed to be unique or outstanding. The changing methodology for acquiring collections resulted in a need for more laborers, be they students or those gaining employment through work-relief agencies (Harvard University 1936–1937:352). Between 1939 and 1945, the museum increased the total number of catalogued objects in its collections from 153,297 to 168,196. This was due in part to a continued effort to catalogue existing collections. During the same period, the museum averaged over 3,200 visitors per year.36 The museum also continued to publish a steady number of monographs and scholarly and popular articles. Members of the public and groups of Berkeley schoolchildren supplemented the steady number of university students that visited the temporary exhibitions, each of which typically lasted about two weeks. In 1940, for instance, 14 classes representing the Anthropology, Art, Classics, and Decorative Art departments visited the exhibitions. That same year the number of students

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visiting the museum from departments outside anthropology actually outpaced the number of anthropology students who visited the exhibits and for which records exist.37 Each exhibition throughout the war steadily filled with visitors, and the number of visitors regularly increased, with the heaviest attendance being the evening before the close of the exhibitions.38 With the close of the Second World War in 1945, the museum saw a notable increase in certain types of activities, both in terms of practical and intellectual production. While museums in cities such as Chicago and Denver were able to capitalize on increased attendance as the war concluded, the Hearst Museum worked to bolster its research output and collections acquisitions programs.39 The Hearst Museum’s average number of acquisitions steadily increased and the museum saw inflation in the number of loan requests from other museums, particularly those with more exhibition space. In 1947, the museum reported at least 17 visiting researcher projects and 9 graduate student projects. One year later, the number of graduate students utilizing the collections had doubled.40 The marked growth in collections-based research at museums was paralleled by the work of scholars conducting field research, which experienced a similar, if not more striking, increase.41 Conclusion A closer look at the history of the Hearst Museum allows a better understanding of why previous scholars of the history of museums in the United States overlooked the period between the Great Depression and Second World War. In surprisingly significant ways, however, the Hearst Museum witnessed important developments that led to the aforementioned explosion in productivity and renewed interest after the Second World War, perhaps a more complex story than currently offered in the literature. The significance of the New Deal, in particular, has been largely overlooked. Further, the manner in which New Deal laborers contributed to heritage preservation and the production of knowledge has been nearly forgotten in American cultural history. Although this case study does not suggest that U.S. museums remained at the forefront of anthropological knowledge creation at the dawn of the second half of the 20th century, it does indicate that

previous scholars have prematurely envisioned the Great Depression as a period when museums were on proverbial life support. The Hearst Museum not only maintained its pulse through challenging times, it produced new kinds of work on collections and exhibitions that helped facilitate a postwar explosion of activity in museums. During perhaps the most challenging moment for the museum in the United States, many institutions, including the Hearst Museum, found ways to expand and better organize their collections, focus their programming, and conduct both research and education. An inward focus resulting from the Depression and the war created a reimagined and reorganized museum that was more productive immediately following the war. In 1946, Kroeber penned an eight-page retrospective of his career. He noted that while the growth of new collections at the Hearst Museum slowed after the rapid initial growth under the guidance of Phoebe Hearst, the rate of growth of the collections between 1936 and 1946 actually outpaced the overall rate of growth in the course of the museum’s history.42 While the growth and development of collections is certainly not the sole indicator of the health of any given museum, the evidence clearly indicates that museums in the United States were perhaps not wholly declining as previously envisioned (Conn 1998; Harris 1962; Stocking 1985). Kroeber emphasized the use of museum collections in scientific publications and study by both graduate students and visiting researchers. He also envisioned the museum as a space for students at various educational levels. Although graduate students were capable of handling the collection and conducting various types of collection-based studies, the undergraduates, like the Berkeley schoolchildren who visited, were viewed as passive observers who were supposed to absorb material through temporary exhibits.43 This framework for museum-based research and education solidified throughout the Great Depression and Second World War. Complementing the work of existing staff were New Deal workers. Specifically, the work of NYA staff contributed directly to the advancement of Gifford’s California archaeology projects. Additionally, the work of WPA workers in creating better finding aids for the museum’s collections no doubt allowed for an increase in the accessibility of the collection for

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research, which in turn seems to have contributed to the explosion in the number of research projects following the Second World War. While the museum would have seen an increase in scholarship after the close of the war without a new catalogue system, it seems apparent that research productivity was assisted by the work of WPA staff only a few years earlier. The contribution of the New Deal is certainly not exceptional to the Hearst Museum, and this era needs to be reassessed in terms of the research and educational productivity directly related to the workers. The Heart Museum, of course, was not without problems, which Kroeber was quick to recognize in his retrospective review. He noted that the position of a museum associated with a university was particularly difficult. His comments are remarkable in light of the shift of his own work in anthropology, focusing more on theoretical anthropology than problems of material culture: Any university museum faces a specific problem. This springs from the fact that essentially such a museum consists of a collection of physical objects placed in a setting which contrariwise operates primarily with ideas, words, and symbols. Granted that perhaps the largest fault of formal higher education is over-verbalization, and that the inherently visual museum approach is as desirable as a corrective, the museum necessarily tends to be handicapped in such an environment. It is always likely to become the university’s step-child. [UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1946:9–10] Kroeber argued that his museum and the university should emulate Harvard’s example. He wrote that in order to be successful, a museum needed a permanent endowment, a building, and some degree of uninterrupted private support. In comparison with the Peabody at Harvard, the Hearst Museum lacked an endowment of sustained private support, in addition to its chronic problems with facilities. Kroeber noted of the University of California Museum of Anthropology, ‘‘Its collections are probably the only ones of their quality and size in the country kept wholly in storage on account of lack of facilities to exhibit any of them.’’44

In exploring the history of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, it has become clear that a call for a broader and more complete history of museums in the United States is a necessity. Not only have historians largely neglected to explore this period in full, they have often privileged the development of major exhibitions or the individual museum professionals over other, equally significant aspects of museum history such as collections management, teaching, and heritage preservation. Taking a more holistic view of museums during the Great Depression and Second World War provides us with a more complex tension between the success and failure of museums in the United States during the middle of the 20th century. Acknowledgments
This article began as a research paper for a graduate seminar with David Hollinger. In addition to Hollinger, ´ my advisor, Richard Candida-Smith, and the members of my dissertation committeeFRandolph Starn and Thomas BiolsiFwere extraordinarily helpful in helping me think through the various ideas contained in this article. The staff of the Bancroft Library and my friends at the Hearst Museum were also enormously supportive throughout the early stages of my research. Joan Knudsen at the Hearst Museum was especially helpful in helping me locate historical records at the museum. Ira Jacknis also took the time to read and comment on the paper. A special thanks is due to the staff of the National Anthropological Archives, which has recently become my archival home. They put in extraordinary effort in helping me find understudied materials related to the history of museum anthropology. Finally, I am blessed with uniquely supportive friends and family. I simply cannot thank them enough.
notes 1. 1946 UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report. Hearst Museum Archives, University of California, Berkeley, CA: pp. 7–8. 2. Museum Information, An Introduction to the Field Museum., accessed February 3, 2010. 3. Penn Museum, Our Building. our-building.html, accessed February 3, 2010. 4. American Museum of Natural History, American Museum of Natural History Timeline. history.php, accessed February 3, 2010.

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5. Kroeber to Sproul, August 14, 1931, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, CU-5 Series 2, University of California, President, 1931, 83-100A, Anthropology. 6. On the subject of the relocation to the Civil Engineering Building see Hearst Museum Historical Records, Folder: Museum History, Museum Move from San Francisco to Berkeley, 1931, Map of Floor Plans of Museum Building (Old Civil Engineering Building), 1931. On exhibitions, see, UC Museum of Anthropology Report to President Robert Gordon Sproul for the Year Ending June 30, 1939, p. 3 and Hearst Museum Historical Records, Museum History, Museum History, Move from San Francisco to Berkeley, 1931, Correspondence and Contents in Each Room. 7. Letters, E.A. Hugill, ‘‘Note to the Comptroller,’’ May 20, 1931, and C. Derlell Dean of College of Engineering to Sproul, June 16, 1931, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, CU-5 Series 2, University of California, President, 1931, 83100A, Anthropology. 8. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report, 1939, p. 3. Hearst Museum Historical Records, Folder: Museum History, Physical Facilities; Request for Annex to Civil Engineering Bldg for Exhibition Purposes, 1941. 9. A memo in the Kroeber papers at the Bancroft Library outlines a number of lecture programs for students in grades 5–8. A. L. Kroeber Papers, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, BANC Film 2049, Reel 174, Frame 367, Folder 40, Memos. BANC MSS. C-B 925 BNEG 1840:173. Frame 63. 10. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report, 1939, p. 3. 11. Many of Kroeber’s published works during this period are based neither on fieldwork nor museum studies. Rather, his work became theoretical in nature as he crafted some of the overarching themes of American anthropology (Kroeber 1931, 1934). 12. Report on the Department and Museum of Anthropology, July 1, 1932 to June 30, 1933, p. 2. 13. Kroeber includes an editorial note at the start of his Handbook of the Indians of California stating that unless otherwise noted, illustrations of objects in the book are from the UC Museum of Anthropology. This further reinforces the concept of the Hearst Museum as claiming the role of the official record for indigenous peoples of the state. 14. University Archives, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, Cu-23, Box 185–186. 15. Kroeber to C. T. Seltman, October 14, 1927, University Archives, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, Cu-23, Box 185–186.

16. Kroeber to E. Wayne Galliher, October 29, 1931, University Archives, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, Cu-23, Box 185–186. 17. Several institutional policies appear to have arisen from casual conversations rather than through written documentation. Sometimes, the first articulation of policies appears in external correspondence rather than internal memoranda. Kroeber probably applied his personal theoretical attitudes to the acquisition of collections. He firmly believed that an ethnographer would do a far better job of collecting material than an amateur collector and, therefore, material from North America offered for sale was routinely dismissed. 18. Kroeber to Mr. Jack R. Dyson, May 20, 1941, and Kroeber to G. G. Cobean from A. L. Kroeber, January 26, 1945. University Archives, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, Cu-23, Box 185–186. 19. One example is evident in the Ledger Book Series for California Collections, Series 1, which shows a significant number of private donations taking place, even when the museum was busy cataloguing vast collections from the region. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Ledger Books, Series 1, No. 6. 20. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Accession Files 657, 658, and 664. 21. Gifford to E. B. McFarland, October 20, 1939, University Archives, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, Cu-23, Box 185–186. 22. Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Accessions 704 and 706. 23. Letter from Theodore D. McCown to Peter B. Cornwell, April 5, 1940. Papers of Carleton S. Coon, General Correspondence, Box 1, Folder 1940–1945. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. 24. President Sproul’s efforts can be seen in Hearst Museum Accession 671. 25. The memo discussed here is entitled, ‘‘Recapitulation of Archaeological Exploration by the Department of Anthropology in California, Nevada, Oregon, 1901– 1945.’’ November 15, 1945. A. L. Kroeber Papers, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, BANC Film 2049, Reel 174, Frame 367, Folder 40, Memos. BANC MSS. C-B 925 BNEG 1840:173. 26. The MEP advertised these exhibitions in various publications, hoping that institutions would continue to embrace the program. See Box 14. Folder: Diorama. Records of the Department of Anthropology/U.S. National Museum/National Museum of Natural History. Series 17:

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Division of Ethnology Manuscript and Pamphlet File. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. 27. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1940, p. 6. 28. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1940, pp. 6–7. 29. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1941, p. 6. 30. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1939, pp. 7–8. 31. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report, 1943, pp. 9– 12 and University of California Museum of Anthropology Report to President Robert Gordon Sproul for the Year Ending June 30, 1945, pp. 7–8. 32. This reference concerns all quotes within this paragraph. Memorandum. Krieger, H. W. ‘‘Report on W.P.A. Assistance, Division of Ethnology, United States National Museum.’’ June 22, 1939. Box 86. Folder: Works Progress Administration. Records of the Department of Anthropology/U.S. National Museum/National Museum of Natural History, Series 17: Division of Ethnology Manuscript and Pamphlet File. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. 33. For more on the Smithsonian’s use of New Deal labor in archaeology, see Archaeological Reports, 1934–1942. Box: 86. Folder: Works Progress Administration. Manuscript 844. Records of the Department of Anthropology/ U.S. National Museum/National Museum of Natural History, Series 17: Division of Ethnology Manuscript and Pamphlet File. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. 34. Museum anthropologists were especially grateful to receive the temporary assistance of stenographers. New Deal agencies gave priority to male stenographers, however, female stenographers were often successful in gaining temporary employment in museums, where their skills were utilized to type manuscripts and catalogue cards. 35. Limited records do, in fact, describe employees falling asleep on the job or mishandling artifacts. Box 86. Folder: Works Progress Administration. Records of the Department of Anthropology/U.S. National Museum/National Museum of Natural History, Series 17: Division of Ethnology Manuscript and Pamphlet File. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. 36. Statistics based on the UC Museum of Anthropology Report(s) for the years 1939–1946. 37. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1940, p. 3. 38. Hearst Museum Historical Records, Folder: Museum History, Exhibits, 1935–1941, Anthropology Museum Exhibits on Primitive Art, Announcements, Mailing Lists of Local School Teachers, Attendance Figures.

39. The press release concerning attendance in 1945 at the Art Institute of Chicago demonstrates increasing attendance at the museum. The release was circulated on January 12, 1946. The Art Institute of Chicago maintains a news release index online at libraries/musarchives/pr/index.html, accessed February 3, 2010. See the introductory remarks of C. H. Hanington, president of what was then the Colorado Museum of Natural History for the annual reports of both 1945 and 1946 concerning attendance. 40. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1949, p. 11. 41. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1947, pp. 9–15. 42. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1946, pp. 4–5. 43. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1946, pp. 5–6. 44. UC Museum of Anthropology Annual Report 1946, p. 11.

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Harris, Neil 1962 The Gilded Age Revisited: Boston and the Museum Movement. American Quarterly 14(4): 545–566. Harvard University 1932–1933 Official Register of Harvard University. Issue Containing the Report of the President of Harvard College for 1932–1933. Cambridge: Harvard University. 1933–1934 Official Register of Harvard University. Issue Containing the Report of the President of Harvard College for 1933–1934. Cambridge: Harvard University. 1936–1937 Official Register of Harvard University. Issue Containing the Report of the President of Harvard College for 1936–1937. Cambridge: Harvard University. Jacknis, Ira 1993 Alfred Kroeber as Museum Anthropologist. Museum Anthropology 17(2):27–32.

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Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution; Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. Steward, Julian, Ann Gibson, and John Rowe 1961 Alfred Louis Kroeber, 1876–1960. American Anthropologist 63(5):1038–1087. Stocking, George W., Jr., ed. 1985 Objects and Others: Essays on Museums and Material Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Taylor, Francis H. 1942 Suspension of the WPA Museum Project. Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 37(6):164– 165. University of California Museum of Anthropology 1920 The Hearst Collections at Second and Parnassus Avenues San Francisco: Guide to Selected Objects of Unusual Interest. Berkeley: University of California Press.




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