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COLLECTION Identifier: 997-8

John Phillip Gillin papers


The papers detail Gillin's research in South and Central America and his professional activities. Also included are materials originating from Gillin's wife, Helen L. Gillin.


  • 1927–1973 (bulk)


Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions on access: none.

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions on use: none.


8 linear feet
The papers detail Gillin's research in South and Central America and his professional activities. Originally deposited in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, they were transferred to the Peabody Museum in 1997. The papers include correspondence, field notes (Africa, British Guiana, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala), student work, teaching materials, writings, card files, and photographic material. There is also one box of his wife Helen L. Gillin's material which includes journals (Ecuador), correspondence (Brasil, Peru, Ecuador), and reports. This collection would be of interest to researchers in broader areas than Latin American culture, such as visual anthropology, human ecology and the history of anthropology.

Biographical Sketch

American anthropologist, John Phillip Gillin was born in Waterloo, Iowa on August 1, 1907. The son of John Lewis Gillin, sociology professor, Gillin received his A.B. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1927 and his M.A. in sociology, psychology and anthropology in 1930. Gillin's formal introduction into anthropological field work began in 1932-33 with an expedition to British Guiana to study the Carib Indians of the Barama River.

At the Peabody Museum, Gillin trained under Roland Dixon and A.M. Tozzer and received his PhD in anthropology in 1934 (The Barama River Caribs of British Guiana). Gillin was on the Peabody staff in 1934 and made trips to Ecuador on the Museum's behalf, studying the cultures of the Imbabura province. He also worked on Peabody archaeological sites at Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, culminating with his Peabody Papers publication, Archaeological Investigations in Central Utah, (vol. XVII, No. 2, 1941.)

From 1937 to 1941, Gillin held a position at Ohio State University. During this time he also spent a year at Yale University in the Institute of Human Relations, studying the intersection of psychology and anthropology. In 1942 Gillin accepted a position in the anthropology department at Duke University. With the onset of World War II, he was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. Gillin continued to teach at Duke until 1946 when he accepted a professorship at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he founded the anthropology Ph D program. He left UNC in 1959 to found the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh where he retired from in 1972.

In 1973, Gillin passed away at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he had chosen to retire. John Gillin is remembered for his field study of Central and South American culture, for shaping U.S. Latin American policy, and for his pioneering work in interpreting culture within the framework of scientific investigation.

  1. Reina, Ruben E. Obituaries: John Phillip Gillin 1907-1973. AmericanAnthropologist . vol. 78, no. 1. March 1976, pp. 79-86.


  1. Series I: Personal materials, 1927-1973,n.d.
  2. Series II: Fieldwork, 1930-1968.
  3. Series: III: Student work, 1930-1934.
  4. Series IV: Teaching and related materials, 1955-1970.
  5. Series V: Writings, 1932-1970.
  6. Series VI: Helen L. Gillinmaterial, 1934-1963.
  7. Series VII: Photographic material, 1937-1947.
  8. Series VIII: Card files, 1945 and n.d.

Physical Location

Peabody Museum Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated by the Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill, and John Gillin's son, John Christian Gillin, M.D. May 1997

General note

Collections records may contain language, reflecting past collecting practices and methods of analysis, that is no longer acceptable. The Peabody Museum is committed to addressing the problem of offensive and discriminatory language present in its database. Our museum staff are continually updating these records, adding to and improving content. We welcome your feedback and any questions or concerns you may want to share.

Processing Information

Processed by: Sarah Demb 1997-1998 edited by Patricia H. Kervick, Associate Archivist; September 2010
Link to catalog
Gillin, John Phillip (1907–1973) Papers, bulk 1927–1973: A Finding Aid
Peabody Museum Archives

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Museum Archives Repository

The Peabody Museum Archives contains primary source materials that reflect the Museum’s archaeological and ethnographic research and fieldwork since its founding in 1866. Archival collections contain photographs, documents, papers, and records of enduring value that were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or other related entities. The collections also document the history or provenience, as well as the creation of many of the Museum’s artifact collections. To learn more about research visits at the Peabody Museum, please see

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