de Laguna, Frederica (Annis Lopez de Leo) 1906-2004

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de LAGUNA, Frederica (Annis Lopez de Leo) 1906-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born October 3, 1906, in Ann Arbor, MI; died of heart disease October 6, 2004, in Haverford (one source says Bryn Mawr), PA. Anthropologist, educator, and author. De Laguna was a pioneer researcher of Arctic cultures. She did her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College, where she earned a B.A. in economics in 1927; she then switched to anthropology, studying under Franz Boas at Columbia University and completing her doctorate in 1933. While a graduate student, she participated in her first expedition in 1929, traveling to an island off the coast of Greenland. She fell in love with the culture and people there, and determined to make a career out of studying the native peoples of the far north. During the 1930s, de Laguna gained experience as an assistant to the field director at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, as well as at the Department of Agriculture, where she worked in the Soil Conservation Service in Arizona and New Mexico. She joined the faculty at Bryn Mawr College in 1938 as a lecturer, rising to the post of full professor of anthropology in 1955 and retiring as professor emeritus in 1975; she also chaired the archaeology department from 1950 until 1972. Although her initial exposure to Arctic peoples was in Greenland, de Laguna focused primarily on Alaska and the Yukon for much of her career. Her research of these peoples was the first of its kind. She published numerous books on the subject, including The Archaeology of Cook Inlet, Alaska (1934), The Prehistory of Northern North America as Seen from the Yukon (1947), The Story of a Tlingit Community (1960), Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit (1972), and Travels among the Dena: Exploring Alaska's Yukon Valley (2000). Interestingly, de Laguna also wrote two mystery novels set in the American Southwest that contain archaeological themes—The Arrow Points to Murder (1937) and Fog on the Mountain (1938)—and a book for children titled The Thousand March: Adventures of an American Boy with Garibaldi (1930). She was the subject of the 1997 documentary movie Reunion under Mount Saint Elias and wrote about her early life in Greenland in Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology (1977). One of the first women elected to the National Academy of Sciences, de Laguna was a former president of the American Anthropological Association, which gave her a Distinguished Service Award in 1986, and was active in many other professional associations and societies. Other honors include the 1993 honorary life award for lifetime contribution to Alaskan anthropology from the Alaska Anthropology Association, the 1995 American Lifetime Book award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the 1999 Lucy Wharton Drexel medal for archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the 2001 Inaugural award for contribution to Alaska history from the Alaska Historical Society, and numerous grants and fellowships.



New York Times, November 28, 2004, p. A29.

Washington Post, October 22, 2004, p. B8.

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de Laguna, Frederica (Annis Lopez de Leo) 1906-2004

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