Zingg, Robert M(owry) 1900–1954

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Zingg, Robert M(owry) 1900–1954

PERSONAL: Born 1900; died 1954, in El Paso, TX; married twice. Education: University of Chicago, Ph.D., 1933.

CAREER: Anthropologist. Performed fieldwork in northwestern Mexico c. 1930s; taught at University of Denver. Lecturer; former sales representative for Encyclopedia Britannica.


(With Wendell C. Bennett) The Tarahumara: An Indian Tribe of Northern Mexico, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1935, revised edition, with new introduction, Rio Grande Press (Glorietta, NM), 1976.

The Huichols: Primitive Artists G. E. Stechert (New York, NY), 1938, new edition, Kraus Reprint Company (Millwood, NY), 1977.

Report on Archaeology of Southern Chihuahua, University of Denver (Denver, CO), 1940.

(With J. A. L. Singh) Wolf-Children and Feral Man, Harper (New York, NY), 1942.

Behind the Mexican Mountains (memoir), edited by Howard Campbell, John Allen Peterson, and David L. Carmichael, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2001.

Huichol Mythology, edited by Jay C. Fikes, Phil C. Weigand, and Celia García de Weigand, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2004.

Also author of A Reconstruction of Uto-Aztekan History (Ph.D. thesis), G. E. Stechert (New York, NY), 1939; "Huichol Mythology," (unpublished manuscript), held at Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM; and The Ute Indians in Historical Relation to Proto-Azteco-Tanoan Culture, Department of Anthropology, University of Denver, 1938.

Some of Zingg's papers are held at the Gesell Institute of Child Development.

SIDELIGHTS: Anthropologist Robert M. Zingg is remembered for his fieldwork in northwestern Mexico in the 1930s. Together with colleague Wendell C. Bennett, he studied the Tarahumara, an indigenous group in Chihuahua, and he later completed an ethnography of the Huichal community in the Sierra Madre Occidental. The men's findings were published in the well-respected book The Tarahumara: An Indian Tribe of Northern Mexico, and Zingg published his subsequent work in such books as A Reconstruction of Uto-Aztekan History.

Zingg's Ph.D. thesis, published in 1938 as The Huichols: Primitive Artists, is considered a landmark work. According to Peter T. Furst, writing in the Journal of Latin American Lore, "Zingg had his critics, fair and unfair, and his work unquestionably had its blind spots. Nevertheless, Huichol scholarship owes him a great deal. He spent little more than a year in the Sierra, but that relatively brief time in the field resulted in a staggering amount of baseline ethnography that will always be must reading for anyone with a serious interest in Huichol culture."

Behind the Mexican Mountains, a chronicle of Bennett and Zingg's experiences with the Tarahumara during the mid-1930s, was published in 2001. In the work, Zingg offers his insights on the people and landscape of the region. Although Library Journal contributor Jay H. Bernstein stated that the book "captures the pleasures and hardships of fieldwork," he also noted that Zingg "does not analyze his experiences or create an anthropological framework for understanding them."



Zingg, Robert M., Behind the Mexican Mountains, edited by Howard Campbell, John Allen Peterson, and David L. Carmichael, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2001.


American Anthropologist, Volume 43, 1941, Ralph Beals, "Assimilation and Transformation of Some Catholic Icons in Huichol Myth and Ritual," pp. 249-274.

Hispanic American Historical Review, May, 2004, Susan M. Deeds, review of Behind the Mexican Mountains, p. 361.

Journal of Latin American Lore, winter, 1997, Peter E. Furst, review of The Huichols: Primitive Artists, pp. 99-102.

Library Journal, March 15, 2002, Jay H. Bernstein, review of Behind the Mexican Mountains, p. 88.

Natural History, Volume 88, number 8, Katherine D'Agosta, review of The Huichols, p. 129.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2004, review of Huichol Mythology, p. 69.

Reprint Bulletin, Volume 24, number 1, Laurel E. Drew, review of The Huichols.