Exhibition Features Objects Collected by Arctic Anthropologist Frederica de Laguna

Posted January 27th, 2011 at 3:26 pm.

Frederica de Laguna: At Home in the Arctic, a special exhibition of more than 50 artifacts from the college’s collections that tell the story of professor Frederica de Laguna’s groundbreaking work as an archaeologist and ethnographer in the arctic, is now on display in the third-floor exhibition space of Dalton Hall. The exhibition, presented by the Department of Anthropology and Special Collections, will remain on view until May 28.

Frederica de Laguna (known to friends and colleagues as Freddy) graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1927, taught at the college from 1938 until her retirement in 1972, and in the 1960s, established an independent department of anthropology. During more than three decades at the college, she built the anthropology collections to more than 7,000 objects and donated approximately 500 artifacts from her own collection, including the majority of those in the exhibition.

The exhibition features ethnographic objects given to de Laguna during her years of field research in Greenland, Alaska, and Northwestern Canada. During her first field experience in Greenland in 1929, de Laguna wrote home to her parents, “You know how I have always longed for the Arctic: it was always to me the Promised Land, and it has not betrayed me. Everything is full of wonder and surprise, and yet I feel at home and part of it. I can be myself. . . I feel as if I have never been really alive before.”

In the 1930s, de Laguna began work in Alaska and soon published The Archaeology of Cook Inlet, Alaska. She continued her work in the arctic for the remainder of her career and in 1972 published her classic ethnographic work Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit.

Funding for the exhibition has been provided by Special Collections and the Department of Anthropology. The exhibition has been organized by Aubree Gabard, Class of 2011; Professor Richard Davis;  Curator and Academic Liaison for Art and Artifacts Emily Croll; and Collections Manager Marianne Weldon. Marie-Françoise Guédon and Sheila Keene of the University of Ottawa provided many of the exhibition images.

For more information about the exhibition contact Rick Davis, Department of Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College at rdavis@brynmawr.edu or 610-525-5029.

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