Fonds RC0218 - Richard Slobodin fonds

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Richard Slobodin fonds

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Statement of scale (cartographic)

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  • 1961-2001 (Creation)

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Physical description

1.35 m of textual records
9 reels audio tape
1 audio cassette

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Richard Slobodin (1915-2005) was an American anthropologist and a founder of the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University. Born and educated in New York City, he worked extensively from the 1930s onwards as an ethnologist. The chief focus of his ethnological studies were the Dené peoples of the Yukon and Alaska, particularly the Gwich'in (Kutchin). His scholarly interests were broad, however, and he published extensively on a variety of subjects. These publications included significant biographical treatments of pioneering anthropologists <a href="">W.H.R. Rivers</a> and Northcote W. Thomas.

After a brief stint in the United States armed forces during and after the Second World War, he returned to academic life only to fall afoul of Sen. Robert McCarthy's House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUUAC) in the early 1950s. This blacklisting saw him disbarred from academic employment for a period of seven years, during which time he worked a variety of jobs to support himself before eventually completing his Ph.D. in 1959. He spent the next four years working various academic appointments in the United States while seeking entry to Canada, which repeatedly denied him a visa owing to his supposed Marxist connections.

He finally was admitted to Canada in 1964, accepting an academic appointment at McMaster University, and he became a Canadian citizen in 1970. During the 1960s and 1970s Slobodin continued extensive fieldwork in the Arctic while also playing an instrumental role in developing the faculty of anthropology at McMaster, of which he was a co-founder. In 1981, he was forced to accept compulsory retirement owing to his age, but remained active in the United Church and the New Democratic Party while maintaining voluminous correspondence with friends and fellow scholars around the world. He died in 2005 at the age of 89.

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Scope and content

The fonds consists chiefly of Slobodin's publications, draft publications, and associated research materials. Also included are a number of Slobodin's research diaries and files relating to his fieldwork in the Arctic and a small collection of correspondence and teaching notes.

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The fonds is organised into the following series: 1) Publications and Associated Material, 2) Field Notes and Diaries, 3) Research Files and Correspondence, and 4) Teaching Notes.

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Further accruals are not expected.

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