Collection ID: LCP2001/001
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Collection context


D'Azevedo, Warren L.
Warren d'Azevedo is a retired ethnographer, renowned for his work in anthropology and African studies. D'Azevedo began his research in the 1950s, focusing primarily on African cultures, including the Gola ethnic group of Liberia and the Native American Washoe culture of the Great Basin. This collection consists of d'Azevedo's writings, photographs, memorabilia, and U.S. and Liberian government documents and teaching materials.
35 cubic feet; (35 records cartons, 3 being oversized, 1 being restricted materials)
Materials are primarily in English
Preferred citation:

[item], Warren d'Azevedo Collection, Bloomington, IN: Liberian Collections, Indiana University Libraries, 2009


Biographical / Historical:

Warren d'Azevedo was a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno, from 1963 to 1988. As a student, d'Azevedo worked with a number of prominent anthropologists at the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University, including Paul Radin and Melville Herskovits, both of whom had a profound influence on his work. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1962 from Northwestern University. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Professor d'Azevedo authored numerous articles and books, including Straight with the Medicine: Narratives of Washoe Followers of the Tipi Way. He also edited Great Basin, and the eleventh volume of the Smithsonian Institution's encyclopedic Handbook of North American Indians, an 850- page work that took fourteen years to complete. Beverly Crum, Steven Crum, and William Jackson were consultants in the project and contributed to the volume, as well.

Professor d'Azevedo is also well known in the field of African Studies, where he is acknowledged as a pioneer in the study of African arts. The Traditional Artist in African Societies, his seminal work on the place of the artist in African society in the 1960's has influenced scholars in anthropology, art history, and museology since its publication in 1974. This work represented a revolutionary shift away from the study of art as independent object, toward a more inclusive study of art as the result of a dynamic creative process in which an artist is firmly embedded in his or her society.

d'Azevedo's scholarly interests always bore some connection to his advocacy efforts in the United States and Liberia. While founding the Anthropology Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, he was also involved in the creation of the Black Students Organization. While coordinating field schools for graduate students funded by the National Science Foundation, he also advocated for greater religious freedom for Native Americans. Finally, after helping the Smithsonian Institution assemble its vast collection of African art, Professor d'Azevedo served as a human rights observer in the Liberian elections following the country's protracted civil war.

At the time of his retirement, Warren d'Azevedo was honored by the Institute for Advanced Study at Indiana University for his pioneering achievements, by the Liberian Studies Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and by the African Studies Association with a Leadership Award.

Scope and Content:

The Warren d'Azevedo Collection is divided into eleven series.

The Associations and Conferences series contain materials from the numerous organizations d'Azevedo was affiliated with, including African Studies Association , Friends of Liberia, The Peace Corps, and the Arts Council of the American Studies Association. Much of the conference materials pertain to seminars and conferences on primative art, Africa culture, and history.

The Correspondence series, arranged alphabetically, contains letters from professional and personal contacts. Represented within this series is the Karnley family as well as other notable people such as Amos Sawyer, Jeanette Carter,Bai T. Moore, J. Gus Liebenow , John Gay, and Svend Holsoe.

The Liberian Government collection has materials from many of the government departments and ministries, annual reports, papers from the Doe regime, and Tubman speeches.

The Newspapers, Magazines, and Articles series has been arranged into three subseries: Chronological, by Subject, and by Title. Subjects include African studies and the Liberian civil war. Titles include "About Liberia", "Liberian Woman" and "The Perspective."

The Photographs series is a small series containing photos of art and artifacts, Gbetu (masked dancer), and some family photos.

The Professional Avtivities series is a vast series that covers many aspects of d'Azevedo's professional life. Included are invitations for him to speak or contribute to a journal, peer reviews, exhibitions, awards, references, teaching, and museum collecting. Two major projects d'Azevedo was a part of, the Liberian Language Study and the Ethnocentrism Project are included in this series.

Research Materials contains numerous articles and papers d'Azevedo used for research as well as an extensive set of his field notes.

Subject Files has a wide variety of materials that don't easily fit into other series. Included in this series are funeral programs, maps, human rights materials, brochures, pamphlets, business cards, and language primers.

The Tenth County series contains important documents pertaining to the creation of the Bomi County, the 10th county formed in Liberia in 1984

The Writings series contain drafts and final copies of many of d'Azevedo's works. Titles within this series include "Common Principles of Variant Kinship Structures Among the Gola," "The Artist as Archtype in Gola Culture," "Phantoms of the Hinterland: The "Mandingo" presence in Early Liberian Accounts," "A General Bibliography of the Republic of Liberia,""Gola Womanhood and the Limits of Masculine Omnipotence,""Some Terms from Liberian Speech," "Revolt on the San Dominick," "Tribe and Chiefdom on the Windward Coast," and "A Tribal Reaction to Nationalism"

The Writings By Others series contain articles collected by d'Azevedo that weren't used for his research. Prominent names in this series include George E. Brooks, S. Cordor, Svend Holsoe, Jangaba Johnson, Ivan Karp, J. Gus Liebenow, Bai T. Moore, Amos Sawyer, and Bill Siegmann

Acquisition information:
Obtained as part of the collection donated by Warren D'Azevedo
Custodial history:

Copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Liberian Collections

Processing information:

Processed by Donald Force, William Schultz, Mary E. Gaudette.

Completed in 2008.


The Warren d'Azevedo Collection is divided into eleven series:

  1. Associations and Conferences
  2. Correspondence
  3. Liberian Government Documents
  4. Newspapers, Magazines, and Articles
  5. Photographs
  6. Professional Activities
  7. Research Materials
  8. Subject Files
  9. Tenth County
  10. Writings
  11. Writings by Others



Closed for research. Some folders are restricted and are indicated as such in the folder list.


All research at the Liberian Collections Project is by appointment only.


[item], Warren d'Azevedo Collection, Bloomington, IN: Liberian Collections, Indiana University Libraries, 2009

Indiana University Bloomington
Herman B Wells Library
1320 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405, United States
Attention Visiting Researchers: The African Studies Collection is currently closed for research.
Indiana University Bloomington