Inside the Peabody Museum: May 2012

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Happy Mother's Day

!Kung mother and child

!U tightens the strings of a //gwashi, a musical instrument played by most !Kung. Norna looks on from her lap.

An image from the 2004 exhibition Regarding the Kalahari brings to mind the bond between mother and child, evident in cultures past, present, near, and far.

The exhibition examined the first chapter in the relationship between the Marshall family and the Ju/'hoansi !Kung—a relationship that lasted over a half a century and endures still. Through portraits, the exhibit documented the !Kung on the brink of cultural change and offered a photographic record of the Marshalls' multifaceted perspectives on the !Kung.

In 1950, Laurence Marshall, retired co-founder of the Raytheon Company, and seventeen-year-old John Marshall embarked on the first of numerous Peabody Museum expeditions to the Kalahari Desert where they encountered Ju/'hoansi !Kung, still living as nomadic hunter-gatherers in what is now Namibia.

Arrangements were made to return the next year along with Lorna Marshall, an English teacher, and their college-aged daughter Elizabeth Marshall [Thomas]. For eleven years, the Marshall family--Lorna, Laurence, and their children, Elizabeth and John--documented the way of life of the indigenous Ju/'hoansi !Kung of the Kalahari desert in southern Africa. Unschooled in anthropology and in photography, the Marshalls literally trained themselves in the field. Lorna and Elizabeth conducted extensive ethnography, writing numerous books and articles.

The Marshall family took numerous photographs of the child shown above, !Ungka Norna, who was named for Lorna by her father (the !Kung do not pronounce the letter "l"). Lorna Marshall had a great interest in children and child rearing.

"Women...take their children with them when they go to gather," she wrote, "and have the principal care of them throughout the days all the years of their childhood."

--Adapted from exhibition text by Ilisa Barbash

Family Program: Trash to Treasure from Harvard Yard

boy at seive in Harvard Yard

A boy examines artifacts in a Harvard Yard sieve during the  dig.

Do you enjoy mysteries of the past? Ever wonder what lies beneath Harvard Yard?

Join Archaeology of Harvard Yard instructors and students at the Museum as they process their finds from this year’s dig in Harvard Yard. Learn what “trash” can tell us about the past on May 19 from noon to 4:00 PM. 

"We find out about student life at Harvard, because the artifacts are the remains of daily activities," says Dr. Diana Loren, Archaeology of Harvard Yard co-instructor and co-curator of the current exhibition Digging Veritas: The Archaeology and History of the Indian College and Student Life at Colonial Harvard. "There are ceramics, bricks, glass, nails, and more--anything from the 17th century to the present."

After archaeologists dig up artifacts, there is much more work to be done. "This is step one of cataloging: sorting the artifacts into categories so we can identify them," Loren continues. Families will be able to sort and put artifacts into archival plastic bags.

"These are not your typical supermarket sandwich baggies. The bags we use won't yellow or fall apart over time." she says. "This activity prepares the artifacts for accession into the Museum's collection. Later we'll photograph and describe them."

The artifacts and their records will be available for researchers to study and learn more about colonial and later life at Harvard.

The family activity is recommended for ages 8 and up. To discover more about Harvard Yard's past, visit the exhibition and see the online exhibition.

"Dr. Loco" and ZUMIX perform

 Dr Loco and ZUMIX perform

"Dr. Loco," a.k.a. anthropologist/musician/educator Jose Cuellar, PhD, rocked the house in an April 11th public performance with young musicians from award-winning East Boston's ZUMIX.

In a evening of music influenced by the Latino diaspora in the U.S., the performers--as many as 10 on the stage--alternately crooned, swung, rapped, and bopped, delighting the audience and giving rise to some occasional dancing in the aisles.

Click the image to play a short clip.


See what's coming up in the Calendar of Events.






Did you miss lectures in the Trash Talk: Anthropology of Waste series? You can listen to them here or download them to your mobile device through iTunes U. Look for Harvard's Peabody Museum lectures. More will be posted throughout the year.

May 19

Noon-4 pm

Drop-in Family Event

Transforming Trash to Treasure: Artifacts from Harvard Yard

June 16

Noon-4 pm

Drop-in Family Event

Float Your Boat Discovery Room


June 27

4:30 pm

Exhibition Opening

From Daguerreotypes to Digital