Ruth Murray Underhill papers, 1959-1965  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Underhill, Ruth Murray, 1884-1984
Ruth Murray Underhill papers
1959-1965 (inclusive)
3.5 linear feet, (3 containers)
Collection Number
Ax 570
Ruth Murray Underhill (1884-1984) was a social worker, anthropologist, and teacher. She studied the Papago tribe of Southern Arizona while attending Columbia University. The collection includes her manuscripts, minor correspondence, and mementos of George W. Ingalls (1838-1920), Indian agent and superintendent of religious work among Indians for the American Baptist Home Mission Society.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 541-346-3068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ruth Murray Underhill was born in Ossining, New York, an wealthy suburb outside of New York City, on August 22, 1884. She was the oldest of four children born to Abram Sutton Underhill and Anna Taber Murray. At age sixteen, she traveled with her family across Europe, which sparked her interest in languages and human culture. After graduating from Vassar College in 1905, with a degree in English, Underhill taught Latin at a boys military academy in Ossining.

Underhill became interested in social issues and became a social worker in Boston, working for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Shortly after, she worked at a settlement house in Brooklyn, where she decided that social work did not change society as much as she would have liked. Taking a break for two years, she traveled Europe, returning to New York City where she continued social work. After World War I, Underhill worked for the Red Cross in Italy, helping Italian orphans.

For a brief time, Underhill was married, but quickly divorced. By 1930, Underhill began attending Columbia University, taking various classes until she found an interest in anthropology. Under the direction of Franz Boas, the head of the department, and Ruth Benedict, a professor, Underhill studied the Papago tribe of Southern Arizona. At the same time, she assisted at the anthropology department at Barnard College. In 1934, Underhill received her PhD from Columbia.

While studying the Papago, Ruth Underhill learned their language. She was adept at learning languages, as she learned French, German, Spanish and Italian before studying the Native American tribal language of the Papago. The tribe did not have a written language, so Underhill wrote each word phonetically, and also translated the writings to English. She wrote several books from the information gathered on the tribe, which were published a few years later. After three summers studying the Papago, her fellowship funding ended and she decided to work for the federal government.

Working first as a soil conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Underhill soon began work at the Bureau of Indian Affairs as an anthropological consultant. From 1942 to 1948, she supervised Indian education. Her work at the department focused on a study of the Mohave tribe, but later included brief studies of almost every tribe in the United States. Underhill wrote pamphlets for the Bureau, as well as continuing her professional writing.

In the late 1940s, Underhill accepted a position as an anthropology professor at the University of Denver. She wrote many books, articles and other publications while teaching. After retirement in 1952, Underhill continued to write and lecture across the country. Ruth Murray Underhill died on August 15, 1984.

Source: Paton, Pat. "Ruth Underhill Remembered: A Backwards Glance into the Life of a Noted Anthropologist." Colorado Heritage, 1985 (1): 14-21.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Ruth Murray Underhill Papers consist of various versions and states of research material for three books. Also included are her manuscripts, minor correspondence, and mementos of George W. Ingalls (1838-1920), Indian agent and superintendent of religious work among Indians for the American Baptist Home Mission Society. The major Ingalls manuscript, "Customs and Legends of the Indians," told by Ingalls and written by Vernille DeWitt-Warr about 1915, is included in the collection.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ruth Murray Underhill Papers, Ax 570, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Antelope SingerReturn to Top

New York, Coward-McCann, 1961. (Original title: Nummer Boy)

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 1-2
First Draft. Original with holograph and pasted up revisions
1 3
Manuscript as submitted to Alice Torrey. Original and carbon. Chapters 2-12
1 4
Early versions. Fragments discarded after rewritten. Chapters 10-16. (Originally 6-12). Original with holograph revisions
1 5
Fragments. Chapters 1-3. Original without revisions. (Still titled Nummer Boy, so are early versions). 23. Loose pages. Carbon with extensive revisions. 9. Loose pages. Original pp. 166-170 without revisions
1 6
Research materials. 1 folder. Plus two linear inches of 3 x 5 note cards

BeaverbirdReturn to Top

New York, Coward-McCann, 1959

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 7
Carbon typescript
1 8
Early version, probably first draft. Original with extensive holograph and pasted-up revisions. Fragments
1 9
Second version. Original with extensive holograph and pasted up revisions. Fragments
1 10-11
Third version. Original with extensive holograph and pasted up revisions. Fragments
1 12
Plot outline. Original. 4. Chapter 1. Original and carbon. 7. each. Chapter 2. carbon
1 13
Galley proofs. Complete
1 14
Research materials. 1 folder plus two linear inches of 3 x 5 note cards

Red Man's ReligionReturn to Top

Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1965

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 15-17
Carbon typescript as submitted to University of Chicago Press. 365. plus footnotes
1 18
Correspondence with University of Chicago Press, notes. The following chapter headings in subsequent folders reflect at least six rewritings of the manuscript. In some cases it will be noted that the same chapter bears several titles. An attempt has been made to establish the following in rough chapter order. Materials include originals, carbons, holograph leaves, working notes, past-ups
1 19
Foreword. Fragments
1 20
The Tangles Skein
1 21
Angela. Fragments
1 22
Indians and the Supernatural
1 23
Not Religion but Religions
1 24
Religion has a Geography and a History
1 25
Geography of Religions. Fragments
1 26
Impersonal Power
1 27
Impersonal Power. Fragments
1 28
World Origins
1 29
Indian Theology: The Genesis Story
1 30
World Origins. Fragments
1 31
Indian Theology: The Spirits
1 32
The Spirits
2 1
Ceremonies of the Planting Indians. Eastern Woodland
2 2
Ceremonies of the Planting Indians. Fox. Potawotami, Winebago
2 3
Agricultural Ceremonies. East. Iroquois. Fragments
2 4
Agricultural Ceremonies. Pueblo. Fragments
2 5
Agricultural Ceremonies. Pawnee. Fragments
2 6
Modern Religion. Religion Post White. Fragments
2 7
2 8
Maps and Illustrations. Captions
2 9
2 10
Notes. One folder on archaeology, plus eight linear inches of 3 x 5 note cards on Indian religion and ceremonies
2 11
Singing for Power: The Song Magic of the Papago Indians of Southern Arizona. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1938. Fragments
2 12
Shaman and Medicine Man
2 13
Shaman, Medicine Man and Priest
2 14
The Vision
2 15
Indian Ceremonialism
2 16
Indian Ceremonialism. Sundance. Notes
2 17
Hunting and Gathering Rituals
2 18
Hunting and Gathering Rituals. Fragments
2 19
Ceremonies of the Planting Indians
2 20
Ceremonies of the Planting Indians
2 21
Woman Power. Fragments
2 22
The Mysteries of Birth
2 23
Death in the Afterworld
2 24
Death. Fragments
2 25
Medicine Man, Shaman and Priest
2 26
2 27
Early drafts
2 28
Early drafts
2 29
Early drafts, miscellaneous pages and insertions
2 30
Early drafts, miscellaneous pages and insertions
2 31
Late drafts
2 32
Late drafts
2 33
Late drafts
2 34
Notes, biliography, and index
2 35
Galley: Planting Ceremonies, Pueblos

Publications included in the collectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 36
Indian and the Law. T. H. Hass. Washington, D. C., United State Indian Service
2 36
Mushroom of Colorado and Adjacent Area. M. H. Wells and D. H. Mitchell. Denver, Colorado, Denver Museum of Natural History
2 36
Navajo Times (Window Rock, Arizona) Vol. IV (1963). Nos. 24, 32-37, 39-41, 45-48 Vol. V (1964). Nos. 3-21, 23-24, 26, 29, 33-35, 46, 48, 50-53. Vol. VI (1965). No. 1
2 36
Pine Ridge Research Bulletin. Pine Community Mental Health Program, Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Nos. 1-9
2 36
Ten years of Tribal Government under IRA. T. H. Hass. Washington, D. C., United States Indian Service
2 36
Miscellaneous publications (5 items)

Major G.W. IngallsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
3 1-3
Miscellaneous research files of Major G. W. Ingalls, including manuscripts, publications, research files, etc. These files seem to be concerned with legends, customs, and traditions of Indians of the Southwest.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Indians of North America--West (U. S.)--Religion
  • Tohono O'Odham Indians
  • Women anthropologists--United States
  • Personal Names :
  • Ingalls, George W., 1838-1920
  • Underhill, Ruth Murray, 1884-1984--Archives
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Manuscripts for publication