Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: David Goodman Mandelbaum Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1899-1991,
Date (bulk): 1933-1986
Collection Number: BANC MSS 89/129 cz
Origination: Mandelbaum, David Goodman, 1911-
Number of containers: 15 cartons, 3 boxes, 1 OS folder
Linear feet: Approximately 20.25
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Field notes made during Mandelbaum's research trips to the Kota and Toda tribes in the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, and
the Plains Cree and Chippewa Indians; manuscripts of published and unpublished articles, books, reviews and speeches; incoming
and outgoing correspondence; and research and course materials.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft
Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which
must also be obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], David Goodman Mandelbaum papers, BANC MSS 89/129 cz, The Bancroft Library, University of California,
David Goodman Mandelbaum was born in Chicago on August 22, 1911. He majored in anthropology at Northwestern University, studying
with Melville J. Herskovits, and received his B.A. degree in 1932. He spent the summer of 1933 studying the San Carlos Apache
in Arizona, with the support of a fellowship from the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He continued his
ethnographic studies with the Plains Cree in Saskatchewan, while working as a research assistant at the American Museum of
Natural History. He studied with Edward Sapir, Leslie Spier, and Clark Wissler at Yale University, and completed his doctoral
degree in 1936. While at Yale, he studied the Jewish community in Ansonia, Connecticut.
At a time when most young American anthropologists were concentrating their attention on Native American peoples, Mandelbaum
turned to India, which held a life-long fascination for him. While the recipient of a National Research Council Fellowship,
from January, 1937 to May, 1938, he collected data on the Kota tribe in the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, as well as the
small Jewish colony in Cochin.
He returned to the United States to teach at the University of Minnesota. His doctoral dissertation, Changes in an Aboriginal
Culture Following a Change in Environment, as Exemplified by the Plains Cree, was published in condensed form under the title
The Plains Cree by the American Museum of Natural History in 1940. For six months, in 1941-1942, he had an Interdisciplinary
Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation to study psychology and anthropology at Stanford University and the University of
During World War II, while he was on leave from the University of Minnesota, Mandelbaum went to Washington, D.C., to work
as a civilian and later as a U.S. Army officer in the Division of Research and Analysis of the Office of Strategic Services.
Later he served for a year each in Burma and India as an intelligence officer. He left the Army with the rank of major. After
the war, he worked briefly for the Office of Intelligence and Research of the U.S. Department of State, researching social
and economic problems of India and Southeast Asia.
Mandelbaum joined the anthropology faculty at U.C. Berkeley in 1946, where he taught until he retired in 1978. He served as
chair of the department from 1955 to 1957. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Cambridge University in 1952-1953, and
was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 1957-1958. He was a prime
mover in the creation of the Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, and he served as its chair from 1965 to 1968. He
returned repeatedly to Southern India to continue his fieldwork with the Kota and Toda tribes.
In addition to his many writings which explored various facets of Indian social and cultural anthropology, including the two-volume
Society in India, he published works on racial segregation in the military, anthropological theory, ethnology, the study of
personality and life histories, gender roles, applied anthropology, and the teaching of anthropology.
David G. Mandelbaum died on April 19, 1987.
Scope and Content
The David G. Mandelbaum Papers provide a concise overview of the 50-year career of a distinguished American anthropologist
and member of the University of California, Berkeley faculty. His main research interests throughout his life were the the
Kota and Toda tribes of the Nilgiri Hills, in Southern India, and the Plains Cree of Canada.
The collection contains comparatively small amounts of personal correspondence (Series 1), and biographical information (Series
2). Mandelbaum's letters home from his first research trip to India, in 1937-1938, are filled with humor, enthusiasm, and
fascinating details. The General Correspondence series also contains letters to and from Mandelbaum's mentors, Melville J.
Herskovits, Alfred L. Kroeber, Edward Sapir, and Leslie Spier, and Yale University graduate school colleague Edgar E. Siskin.
There are detailed letters to and from Alan R. Beals, who undertook fieldwork in India in the early 1950's. (The remainder
of the correspondence can be found filed by subject in Series 3, 4, 5 and 6.) Series 2 includes several folders of notes taken
by Mandelbaum in Sapir's classes at Yale University.
The following three series are also brief, but they do serve to demonstrate the range of Mandelbaum's professional, scholarly,
and departmental commitments at U.C. Berkeley. He was active in the American Anthropological Association and the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, among other groups (Series 3). He served as chair of Berkeley's Anthropology Department
(Series 4), and later of the Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies (Series 5). The papers in these latter two series
show his interest in anthropology curriculum development.
The most extensive series are the three which contain Mandelbaum's writings (Series 6), course materials for the University
of Minnesota and U.C. Berkeley (Series 7), and his research materials (Series 8). The Writings series includes research notes,
outlines, drafts, editorial correspondence, and reviews of his published books and articles. Also included are reviews written
by Mandelbaum, and notes and transcripts of talks and speeches given by him. Series 6 demonstrates the breadth of Mandelbaum's
academic interests, ranging from general anthropological theory, psychological anthropology, and ethnology, through social
organization, gender roles, and applied anthropology. The seventh series shows the care with which he prepared for his teaching
assignments. There are course outlines, reading lists, examination questions, and background research and lecture notes.
The last series sheds light on Mandelbaum's fieldwork methods, diligent work habits, and meticulous attention to detail. Of
particular interest are his field journals, notes, and notebooks, written during his periods of residence among the Plains
Cree in Canada, and the Kota and Toda in India. They reflect continuity and change among these tribal groups, and are especially
valuable because he returned regularly over a long period of time to the Nilgiri Hills. He made a return visit to Canada in
1976, to attend a Sun Dance Ceremony, more than 40 years after researching his doctoral dissertation among the Plains Cree.
The David G. Mandelbaum Papers support research on a variety of anthropological topics. They provide a snapshot of the theory
and practice of the profession in the United States during the middle decades of the 20th Century.