American anthropology, from its earliest practice, focused on what was termed “salvage ethnography,” the documentation of Native American cultures considered to be dying or extinct. At the turn of the 20th century, the newly emerging academic discipline of anthropology competed with the established museum-centered profession for control of the ongoing salvage ethnography project. The professionalization of anthropology within universities brought consequences. Academic anthropologists, including Alfred Kroeber at the new Department of Anthropology at the University of California, took steps to assert primacy over the field and this marginalized the work of both amateurs and museum-based professionals. Because there were so few trained anthropological researchers, institutions like the University of California had to compete over scholars, including competent amateurs. The work of these amateurs who lived and worked amongst Native American communities informed much of the early anthropological research synthesized in studies by the professionals, Kroeber included.
“Gathering the “Other”: A Study in Salvage Ethnography and the Construction of Native Culture in Southern California, 1897-1908” examines the significant contributions of three acceptable amateur researchers, Constance Goddard DuBois, Philip Stedman Sparkman, and T.T. Waterman through the lens of the publication of an early volume in the University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology. Volume 8 on the Mission Indians of Southern California was published between May 1908 and March 1910, and featured studies by these amateurs and the professional Alfred Kroeber. Through the lens of the planning, research, writing, and publication of Volume 8, this dissertation examines the complexity beneath the surface in this transitional period in anthropology that still required the labor of those outside of academia. Studying them is important because it reminds us that amateurs were on the ground, documenting the names and lives of contemporary Native people, and reveals a depth and resonance to their research that the professionals lacked. The amateur’s anthropological results would be minimized by professionals in subsequent years, but their in-depth knowledge of Indigenous communities has made their work important for scholars and descendent communities to consult as part of the effort to decolonize constructed anthropological knowledge and retell their history.