John H. Rowe
(Photo by Loren McIntyre)

Eighth Emeritus Lecture Honoring
John Howland Rowe


John Howland Rowe

When I came to Berkeley in 1948 there was no Anthropology Library. The anthropology books were in the Main Library, scattered by the call numbers of the Library of Congress. The Department had the use of a small seminar room on the top floor of the library building where a few standard works were kept. The room was just big enough to hold a Ph.D. oral examination in and was used most of the time as study space by the faculty and graduate students who had keys to it. Some graduate students had carrels in the library stacks. I soon found that the library's collection of anthropology books was deficient and was not being kept up to date. Ordering books for the library was the responsibility of the faculty. Each department had a book allotment in the library budget against which orders could be placed. Each order required filling out an order card with complete bibliographical information. In the Anthropology Department, book ordering was the responsibility of the Chair, who when I came was Robert H. Lowie. Ted McCown, who was Vice Chair, also did some ordering in physical anthropology and prehistory. The Department's book allotment was small, only a few hundred dollars, and all of it was not being spent. Ordering books was an extra chore, and it tended to get put off. Departments that did not spend their book allotment had the amount reduced in the next budget, and Anthropology was getting further behind every year. I talked to Lowie and McCown about the problem of ordering books and took over that responsibility during my first semester at Berkeley. I talked to Walter Horn, who did the book ordering for the History of Art, and his advice was "Always overspend your budget. That is the only way to convince the library administration that you need a larger allotment."

In 1948 the Department was housed in what we called "the tin building," a rectangular structure of two stories that stood where Hertz Hall is now, next to the Faculty Club. It was called "the tin building" because it was sheathed with corrugated iron; it was officially known as the Anthropology Building. This building 2 was built in 1901-02 at the expense of Phoebe Apperson Hearst as a temporary structure to store the collections she had commissioned and was giving to the University. Most of the collections were moved to a larger building in San Francisco in 1903, leaving space in the tin building which was gradually converted to offices and classrooms. The collections were brought back to the Berkeley campus in 1931 and stored in the old Civil Engineering Building where Campbell Hall now stands. Mrs. Hearst, who gave her collections to the University and paid all the expenses of the Department in its first seven years of existence, never did anything to provide it with permanent quarters, nor had the University been able to do so by the time I joined the faculty, in spite of repeated representations by Kroeber, Lowie, and Gifford of the urgent needs of the Department and the Museum. The last space request submitted before I came, the one submitted-in the spring of 1948, contained no mention of space for a library; the next one, submitted by Lowie for the Department and Gifford for the Museum on March 14, 1949, asked for 5,000 square feet for a library. This addition reflected strong recommendations by me, supported by David Mandelbaum. In my second year here I spent quite a lot of time in the spring semester collecting information about book holdings, discussing the project for an anthropology library with other members of the department and with librarians and campus architects. Mandelbaum and I invited Donald Coney, the University Librarian, to visit the tin building and talk with us about the possibility of starting a library there. He convinced us that there was no suitable space for a library in that building. The tin building was already becoming too small for the department, and we were agitating for more space in one of the temporary buildings in the glade below the Hearst Mining Circle. Mandelbaum and I drafted a proposal for a branch library in such a building in July of 1950. In 1951 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Department of Anthropology, still in the tin building.

As I got to know more about the Department and its history, I discovered that Anthropology had once had a library but had lost it. The Department was founded in 1901 on the initiative of Frederic Ward Putnam. Putnam had developed the first teaching program in the United States at Harvard University and was trying to get other centers of research and teaching in anthropology established. He had already organized an anthropology program at the Field Museum in Chicago on the occasion of the World's Columbian Exposition and after that, one at the American Museum of Natural History in New York where got Franz Boas appointed Curator. Boas was soon invited to teach at Columbia as well, and he built up the second American teaching program in anthropology there. Putnam went on to persuade Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst to finance a Department of Anthropology at the University of California, of which she was a Regent. In the first report on the Department, published in 1905, Putnam explained: The Department of Anthropology was constituted by the Regents of the University of California September 10, 1901. As the outcome of numerous archaeological and kindred researches carried on for the University of California for some time previous through the generosity of Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst. These investigations were of such importance and the collections formed in connection with them had assumed such large dimensions, that a more definite organization seemed desirable for their direction and coordination This was no doubt the argument that Putnam used to persuade Mrs. Hearst to sponsor the Department and to fund it. Harvard University had the first anthropology library in the United States, and Putnam thought that the University of California should have one too. In 1903 he was named Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Museum of Anthropology, with a teaching staff consisting of two Instructors, Alfred L. Kroeber and Pliny Earle Goddard. He named Kroeber Secretary of the Department and Goddard its Librarian. He also gave a few books to get the anthropology library started.

Unfortunately, the year Goddard was appointed Librarian was the year the Museum collections were transferred to San Francisco. The books went to San Francisco with the collections, so the fledgling anthropology library was effectively inaccessible to the students of Berkeley. Mrs. Hearst's support of the Department of Anthropology ended in 1908; the next year Putnam retired and Goddard left to take up an appointment as Assistant Curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Only Kroeber was left, and he had little interest in books. The library grew very slowly, chiefly by virtue of being on the mailing list of a number of sister institutions. The books were cataloged as museum specimens. The situation did not improve with the return of the collections to Berkeley. There was less space in the old Civil Engineering building than there had been in San Francisco, little or no room for exhibition, and no reading space. Most of the books were shelved along a dark corridor. The only students admitted to the building were a few graduate students doing supervised research on the museum collections. About 1938 Kroeber decided that the book collection was doing no one any good, so between 1938 and 1945 some 794 volumes were turned over to the General Library to augment the anthropology holdings of the general libraries at Berkeley and Los Angeles, and many others were distributed to interested faculty and graduate students. There remained some 285 bound volumes and perhaps 100 more unbound items, including reprints, that were shelved in Kroeber's office in the tin building. They included a set of the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, an incomplete set of the publications of the Bureau of American Ethnology, a set of the Department's publications, and one of the Yale University Publications in Anthropology. These were the nucleus of the revived library project. 5 In 1952 a plan to move the Department to newer temporary quarters in T-2 had emerged, and I intended to start the Anthropology Library in T-2. The T buildings were barracks constructed during the second World War, wooden frame buildings painted a military olive drab. T-2 had classrooms on the ground floor and offices on the second. My preparations for the move began with the first acquisitions for the proposed library. I solicited gifts from colleagues and accumulated them in a box on the floor of my office in the tin building, beginning in November, 1952. A much loved and distinguished anthropologist, Walter Buchanan Cline, who was a member of the Department faculty, had died of cancer in June, and I proposed that we create a memorial to him in the Anthropology Library by giving books that would be marked with a printed sticker, "Given in memory of Walter Buchanan Cline." I had the sticker printed in December. Walter Cline had started a book business, buying and selling anthropology books to raise money for his medical expenses. His widow liked the memorial idea. She had a sale of the remaining stock on December 15 and then gave all the remainder to me for the memorial, authorizing me to sell items from the stock that were not appropriate for the library and use the proceeds to buy other things that were appropriate. We were off. I also started a catalog, typing copies of the Library of Congress catalog cards used by the General Library, mainly on weekends. The General Library received a certain number of gifts, and books that were duplicates and not needed for the stacks were kept for a while on a hold shelf where librarians of the specialized libraries and representatives of departments could examine them and request that they be cataloged for a branch or department. I started making requests from that hold shelf. Donald Coney, the University Librarian, thought I was being too greedy. We had an argument in April in which he threatened to stop my collecting by refusing to let the General Library accession and catalog books for Anthropology. I told him that he could not stop me by withholding service, because if he did that, I could always catalog the books as museum specimens. He felt very 6 strongly that the library system should keep track of all the books held by teaching departments, and my alternative shocked him. After that he made no further objection to my efforts to develop a branch library for Anthropology. The Department of Anthropology moved from the tin building to T-2 in the first half of May, 1953. The authorities controlling space allocation gave us the minimum amount of space to house existing department operations. We had a large collection of glass slides used by the faculty for lecture purposes and a still small collection of books. We were allotted one room on the second floor to house both. The room was larger than an ordinary office, but the slides required enough space so that the library operation would have been severely restricted if the proposed arrangement had been carried out. Fortunately, there was a last minute safety review. The reviewer determined that the second floor was not structurally strong enough to support the weight of our large slide collection, and said it would have to be accommodated on the ground floor. A small slide room had to be created on the ground floor by partitioning off one end of a classroom. The library thus got the whole of the big room on the second floor, and we were in business. We installed a large reading table and four individual study desks to make a reading room, along with some bookcases to hold the books. It was still a department operation, and I became acting librarian, fifty years after Godard. The teaching assistants shared a large room next door and had individual desks; we assigned the study desks in the library to graduate students who were not teaching assistants. Three of the graduate students who had study desks formed a committee to supervise the reading room. I noted at the time that not a single book was lost under this arrangement. "Student interest in and appreciation of the library facilities was high, and many others besides the members of the committee volunteered their time for library services" (Annual Report, 1954, p. 20). By the time the reading room opened, the library had received 156 bound volumes as gifts, mostly from participants in the Cline memorial, and 22 additional volumes 7 had been purchased by the Department. The purchases were of titles in greatest demand for current use. For 1953-54, the first year of operation in T-2, I reported Via remarkable growth in resources and usefulness. Gifts of books were received faster than they could be cataloged, and the collection has more than doubled in size." By the end of the spring semester it included about 1,200 bound volumes and much important unbound material. Subscriptions had been entered for seven of the most important journals, and eleven more serials were being received -as- gifts' or exchanges. The largest and most valuable gift was the entire private 1library of Dr. Samuel A. Barrett, a distinguished anthropologist and holder of the first Ph.D. awarded by the Departmental,.(1908). The Barrett gift amounted to more than 700 bound volumes, including long runs of many standard series. Four new bookcase sections were added in 1954-55, creating a stack area at one side of the reading room. That year funds for the construction of the building that became Kroeber Hall were appropriated by the legislature. With this assurance that suitable space would be available, Donald Coney moved to accept the Anthropology Library as a branch of the library system, effective July 1, 1956, and appointed Rexford S. Beckham its Librarian. Beckham had the advantage of being married to an anthropologist, on the one hand, and being in Coney's confidence on the other. It was an excellent choice. We were then able to go ahead with the planning of the new building with assurance of professional assistance from the library staff. The Department and the Anthropology Library moved into Kroeber Hall in 1959. Anthropology had to share the new building with Art, and the Art Department had a small collection of books used in undergraduate classes for which provision needed to be made. Part of the reading room in Kroeber Hall was used to house this Art collection, so the branch library was called the Art-Anthropology Library for ten years. The combined name proved confusing to patrons, however, and in 1969 the branch became again the Anthropology Library. The Art collection was withdrawn later.

8 December 1995

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