Prominent among the publication efforts of the Smithsonian Institution as well as within the Libraries'
collections are the works of the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE). Established by Congress within
the Smithsonian Institution in 1879, the Bureau of American Ethnology (initially the Bureau of Ethnology)
was given the responsibility to conduct "anthropologic researches among the North American Indians"
(Bureau of Ethnology, 1st Ann. Rep., xi) at a time when change was occurring very rapidly. The effort
that followed lasted nearly a century and played a defining role in the development of American anthropology
as a discipline. Its written record is truly exceptional. The in-depth documentation, through text and
illustrations, of Native American history, culture and linguistics is of a kind rarely seen today.
The importance of this material is evident in the reprinting of selected papers by both the Smithsonian Institution Press
(in its series Classics in Smithsonian Anthropology) and other presses (for example, University of Nebraska
Press and the University of Oklahoma Press). As a result, these publications are particularly appropriate
candidates for electronic editions by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
Among the initial texts selected is John Ewers's scholarly paper, Hair Pipes in Plains Indian Adornment.
Published as an Anthropological Paper within the BAE series in 1957, Ewers presents a short but
comprehensive discussion on the history, manufacture, uses, and meanings of these ornaments.
In doing so, he uses both published and archival references, verbal testimony of Indian informants,
and the careful study of ethnological objects, drawings, paintings, and photographs.
Margaret R. Dittemore, Librarian
Anthropology Branch Library, Natural and Physical Sciences Department
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
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