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Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 12th


Born this day in 1849, Matilda Coxe Evans Stevenson, a pioneer ethologist.

Ethnology (from the Greek ἔθνος, ethnos meaning "people, nation, race") is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.


Evans Stevenson had no formal education in her chosen field, but this was a woman who believed in herself and her vision. The first woman to work in the American Southwest concentrating on the Zuni. The first woman to be part of the first research team of the Bureau of Ethnology. The collecting of thousands of ethnographic objects of Pueblo cultural and social life. She was the first ethologist to consider women and children in the everyday life of these ancient cultures they are studying!
And all these "first woman" are really an account of how hard Evans Stevenson fought for women rights in her field. Which also meant she was fighting for a salary! And she did achieve this important issue. Making her the first government anthropologist to be paid. BUT, at first she was paid as a temporary employee. And then in 1890 she was paid as a permanent employee until her death in 1915. And yes, her salary was always lower than her fellow male counterparts. And it wasn't until 1960 that another woman was paid for her work in the anthology department.

"It is my wish to erect a foundation upon which students may build... I make no claim that my paper on Zuni will exhaust the subject. On the contrary, it but opens the subject but I think and hope it may open wide the gates for other students to pass the more rapidly over the many, many parts which I have left unexplored."