Includes papers related to Bascom's lifelong work on West African
art, culture, and folklore and his teaching at the University of California, Berkeley and
Northwestern University. Materials include personal and professional correspondence; field
notes; lecture notes; course notes; and manuscripts of books and articles. Some papers
written by his wife Berta Bascom are also included.
William Russell Bascom was a pioneer in the field of African Studies and Folklore. He
received his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin and his PhD from
Northwestern University in 1936. He taught at Northwestern, Cambridge University, and the
University of California at Berkeley, where he was also director of the Lowie Museum of
Anthropology. During World War II, he joined the O.S.S. and co-authored A Pocket Guide to West Africa.Bascom was the first American anthropologist to do field work among the Yoruba people of
Nigeria. He made his first trip to Nigeria in 1937 at the age of 25. Over the next 23
years he spent a total of 5 years among the Yoruba, learning their culture and folklore
and describing in detail all aspects of their life. During his many periods of residence
in Nigeria, he and his wife Berta Montero Bascom assembled one of the foremost collections
of books and art of the Yoruba people, their folklore, and history.A one-time president of the American Folklore Society, Professor Bascom was awarded the
prestigious Giuseppe Pitre International Folklore Prize for one of his 10 books, Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West
Africa. Other major works include: The Sociological Role of
the Yoruba Cult-Group (1944), Ponape: A Pacific Economy
in Transition (1947), The Yoruba of Southwestern
Nigeria (1969), African Art in Cultural Perspective: An
Introduction (1973), and Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba
Divination from Africa to the New World (1980).
Number of containers: 40 cartons, 3 boxes
Linear feet: 51.2
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U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of
University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and
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protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of
the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Collection is open for research.