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Jules Henry Project

A collaborative project to provide international access to the unique 1930s field notes of anthropologist Jules Henry.

Progress and Updates on the Project

January 2015

"Thinking outside the (archival) box: Innovative uses of Jules Henry's Field Notes" poster presentation at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) 2015 conference.

February - March 2014

Evaluation begun of the field notes and Pilaga language materials gathered by Jules and Zunnia Henry in Argentina, 1935-36. This comprises a similar set of materials to the information gathered in Brazil, and also documents an indigenous community with an endangered language, and is briefly describing in the finding aid as series 9.

Three undergraduate students in Associate Professor Bret Gustafson's "Indigenous Peoples and Movements in Latin America (Anthro 3092)" course are working to scan and describe the Pilaga materials as part of their independent research projects.  By early March, students have scanned and created metadata for 101 photographs and 71 drawings.  Work was started to scan glossary cards containing English-Pilaga and Spanish-Pilaga vocabulary, and photograph clay figures from the Pilaga region.

Fall - December 2013

Scanning of documents and transfer to Brazil completed.  Work analyzing the remained documents continues and next projects steps are being evaluated.    

Summer 2013

Vedovato completed an initial analysis of the mythology stories documented by Jules Henry, and published the results in the academic paper "As tradicionais narrativas Laklãnõ (Xokleng) recolhidas por Jules Henry (1904-1969)."   Vendovato also created a catalog (in both English and Portuguese) to organize the scanned pages and identify each myth by title, noting key persons or themes referenced.  Based on this analysis, there are over 100 different myths documented in Henry's papers, of which only half a dozen have been previously published. 

Spring 2013

Scanning of documents and transfer to Brazil continues. 

In April 2013 Rectenwald discussed this project as a panelist for the Midwest Archives Conference, in Indianapolis, Indiana.   "The Intersection of Archives and Endangered Languages" will also include panelists Gina Rappaport and Ruth Rouvier who will speak about Recovering Voices, a collaborative program of the Smithsonian Institution; and Linguist Daryl Baldwin, a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, will discuss The Myaamia Project at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).  The panel is moderated by Jason Baird Jackson, Associate Professor of Folklore and American Studies, Indiana University - Bloomington.


scaned page of observation notes


 Summer 2012

Scanning and transferring images from St. Louis continues.  In Brazil the documents are analyzed, and shared with the local community for initial discussions.  Faculty and students from Unicamp are helping the Xokleng Laklãnõ gain back lost knowledge of their indigenous language through a community partnership.  The archival information will help the Xokleng Laklãnõ build their knowledge base of mythology and language for their community schools.  In turn, community members are compiling contextual information for the documents and images.(left: an example of one of the scanned pages)


May 2012

Work began to digitize all the pages related to Brazil in Henry's papers.  The fragile pages are  scanned in St. Louis by Archives staff.   Batches of files are electronically transferred to graduate student Odair Vedovato, in the linguists department of Unicamp State University, São Paulo, Brazil. Vedovato is serving as the liaison for this international collaboration, along with his thesis adviser, Professor Wilmar D. Ángelis.



St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Scanning and metadata work done by undergraduate and graduate students working at University Archives (Department of Special Collections, Washington University in St. Louis):

  • Ashley Eckhardt, M.A. Art History, 2012
  • Bianca Lopez, graduate student in history
  • Deje Holmes, undergraduate student in history and gender studies
  • Leslie Green, undergraduate student in art history

Overall support by the staff of University Archives:

  • Sonya Rooney, University Archivist
  • Miranda Rectenwald, Archives Assistant

São Paulo, Brazil

Work to classify and translate the documents is completed by:

  • Odair Vedovato, graduate student in linguists, Unicamp State University
  • community members from the Xokleng Laklãnõ people (individuals to be listed in future)

Overall support, and supervision of thesis work:

  • Professor Wilmar D. Ángelis, Linguistics Department, Unicamp State University