William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar
Frances Densmore and the History of Anthropology
While at SAR, Dr. Jensen will prepare an article on the work of ethnologist Frances Densmore (1867–1957) and her place in the history of anthropology. A longer coauthored work, already in progress, will examine the work of Frances Densmore in Native American studies. That work includes an evaluation and a conversation among scholars, Native and non-Native, about her half-century recording, collecting, photographing, and writing about Native culture. The article places Densmore’s work in its broader context of the intellectual life of the early twentieth century and offers interdisciplinary ways of looking at the history of anthropology. Dr. Jensen suggests that three aspects are important for creating this context. First, because the Bureau of American Ethnology provided funds to support Densmore’s field work, writing, and publication from 1904 until the 1950s, her life’s work is part of an applied rather than academic anthropology. Second, Densmore’s work is part of the history of women anthropologists. And, finally, her work is part of the efforts by non-Natives to collect, record, and explain Indigenous expressive culture, an area little explored in the history of anthropology.
Affiliation at time of award:
Professor Emerita, Department of History, New Mexico State University