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Richard Lee fonds
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Music from Bechuanaland [Botswana]

Sampling of music sent to Prof. Richard Lee. Includes Stinkane music from Lake Ngami, Suroro from Shorobe, two pieces from the Chopi Timbela orchestra P.E.A. and African noises.

Richard Lee fonds

  • UTA 1473
  • Fonds
  • 1959-2009, predominant 1963-1992

While Richard Lee’s career as anthropologist spans some 40 years, the records accessioned as B2007-0018 documents mainly his early career, particularly his research on the !Kung San bushmen in the Kalahari. Included are research records, field notes, correspondence, papers, manuscripts, photographs and sound recordings found in several series of records. As well, there is a fair amount of documentation on the Kalahari Research Group itself. This was a group of mainly American anthropologists, of which Richard Lee was an early member.

Prof. Lee’s publishing activities is documented only to a limited degree, again during his early career from 1963 to 1975 (Series 4). Of significance is the manuscript for his acclaimed The !Kung San: Men and Women and Work in a Foraging Society. For researchers interested in the history of anthropology as a profession both in Canada and the United States, there are several files on the American Anthropological Association (Series 5) and the activist group Anthropologists for Radical Political Action. Finally, his early teaching career at Harvard University, Rutgers University and the University of Toronto from 1972 to 1975 is documented in Series 6.

A further accession of records (B2012-0012), includes continuation material in the existing series. The addition of two series, includes his student notebooks from his own university education here at the University of Toronto and at University Berkley (Series 8) and grant proposals and related paperwork (Series 7).

Lee, Richard B.


In-coming as well as out-going correspondence was arranged by Lee in various runs. Filed at the beginning is a chronological series of files containing letters from 1967-1972. One file contains job offers from various universities in 1969-70 while another file relates to correspondence around his job offer at the University of Toronto. Apart from job offers, most of the correspondence is with colleagues world wide and is of both a professional and personal nature. Much of the early correspondence relates to field trips to the Kalahari and related research.

The second run of files is general alphabetical files with correspondence dating from about 1970 to 1975. Again this correspondence relates mainly to Prof. Lee’s research and is from colleagues and students. It includes comments on his publications and routine requests for information and advice, requests to attend seminar and talks and other professional meetings, as well as Prof. Lee’s reports or comments as a peer reviewer of papers. There are also letters of recommendation, reviews of theses and general correspondence documenting his role as a teacher.

A third run is an alphabetical run of files arranged by the correspondent. Correspondence is similar in nature to the general alphabetical files described above but is more voluminous for each person and covers a time period mainly from 1965-1975 with the bulk dating from the late 1960s to 1972. Included is correspondence with well known anthropologists such as Carl Heider (Brown University / University of Southern California), Adam Kuper (University College, London), Mary Leakey, Sidney Mintz (Yale University), Julian Steward (Colombia / University of Illinois), Sherwood Washburn (Harvard University and Lee’s advisor) and Eric Wolf (City University of New York).

Finally, Prof. Lee himself arranged a small run of correspondence files from famous people or people influential in his professional development. They include people such as Margaret Atwood and Carl Sagan as well as fellow anthropologists Philip Tobias and Bruce Trigger.

In addition to the correspondence from the 2007 donation, there is a grouping of correspondence from the 2012 addition. This is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, with occasional subject file as designated by Lee. Many of the earlier correspondents appear in this section again.


This series contains records documenting research undertaken by Richard Lee, mainly on the !Kung San in the Kalahari. Most important is a complete set of field notes for his two earliest field excursions among the !Kung San in 1963-64 and again in 1967-69. While this set is a copy of the original, they are the only set arranged in its original chronological order. Prof. Lee’s first set, retained by him, is arranged by subject for easier research access. There is also original collected data on height and weight of the !Kung San. This originates in both hand written spread sheets and in collated computer data printouts for the years 1967-1971. Finally there is a vocabulary card list, and one box of files with transcripts of interviews with Lee, newspaper clippings covering Lee’s excursions and notes related to research, reports and proposals.

Prof. Lee’s later acquisition provided additional notebooks, primary field research, data, and supplementary research to his initial and later research fields.

-Field notes: B2007-0018/010–/014
-Height and Weight Charts: B2007-0018/015
-Vocabulary Cards: B2007-0018/016
-Other files: B2007-0018/017

-Notebooks: B2012-0012/004
-Ecology and Social Change in Bushman Hunter-Gatherers Binder: B2012-0012/005
-Primary research: B2012-0012/006–/007, /018 (notecards), /002P (aerial photos)
-Supplementary research and miscellaneous notes: B2012-0012/008, /018, /001A (map)

Kalahari Research Group

This series documents the work of various members of the Kalahari Research Group from about 1963 to 1974. It consists of files arranged alphabetically by the name of the principal researchers in the Kalahari Research Group as well as a second run of files for related researchers. These files contain correspondence with both Lee and among other group members that discuss meetings, research, publications and field work. They also contain original reports, papers, research data, grant applications and some off prints.

Also included in this series is a collected set of papers, some published, others unpublished that represent the work of the entire group from about 1965 to 1975. These are numbered 1 to 109 are arranged in this order. Some include drafts with notes by Prof. Lee.

-B2007-0018/008: Kalahari Research Group Correspondence
-B2007-0018/009: Kalahari Research Group Correspondence with related researchers
-B2007-0018/018: Kalahari Research Group Collected Papers, 1-63 [for full bibliography, see /018(01)]
-B2007-0018/019: Kalahari Research Group Collected Papers, 64-109


While Prof. Lee has published over a hundred papers, reviews, chapters in books as well as several books, this series contains manuscripts and typescripts for only a handful. Some of the files contain related correspondence and drafts. There are reviews written by Lee as well as correspondence with publishers especially for his Man the Hunter. Except for one paper, all date from 1965-1975. They are arranged chronologically.

Nevertheless, this series does contain the original manuscript of Prof. Lee’s acclaimed "The !Kung San: Men and Women and Work in a Foraging Society". This book was included in a list by American Scientist of important books in science for the 20th century. Under the category of “The Nature and the Rise of our own Species”, Lee’s book shares the list with books by Sigmund Freud, Mary Leaky, Noam Chomsky and Ivan P. Pavlov to name but a few.[1]

[1] Morrison, Philip and Phylis Morrison, “100 or so books that Shaped a Century of Science” in American Scientist, Fall 1999.

Professional Associations and Meetings

This series documents Prof. Lee’s activities in several associations especially in the early 1970s. Well documented with correspondence, memos, reports, notes, agenda are the 1971 and 1972 meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The 1971 AAA meeting was marked with controversy over the Thailand Report and the issue of funding sources for anthropological research. Out of this grew Anthropologists for Radical Political Action (ARPA). Prof. Lee was a founding member and there are several files documenting the early emergence of this group from 1972 to 1974. In 1972, the AAA meeting was held in Toronto and Prof. Lee helped organize it, and in particular, the China Symposium and Political Struggles of Native Peoples Symposium. There are several files that document this meeting including papers, correspondence, notes, agenda, clippings, newsletter, etc.

Also in 1972, Prof. Lee along with Professors Bill Kemp and Harvey Feit of McGill, proposed a Canadian Inter-University Seminar on economic and underdevelopment in Canada’s north. These multi-discipline meetings were a reaction to the concern of American dominance over disciplines such as anthropology. The proposal, along with correspondence, documents this attempt.

Two other significant conferences documented include: Communication with Extra- Terrestrial Intelligence which was a joint conference of the Soviet Academy of Science and the National Academy of Sciences (1971) and Symposium on Political Struggles of International Peoples, International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (1973). There are also a few general files on Political Action groups that interested Prof. Lee in the early 1970s.

Prof. Lee was heavily involved with the Canadian Ethnological Society (CESEC) as well as a number of other committees and conferences represented here.


This series consists of course files containing lectures, course outlines and reading lists for courses taught by Prof. at Lee at Harvard, Rutgers, the University of Toronto, the Marxist Institute, and others.


This series consists of grant proposals and their resulting paperwork, primarily from the Canada Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. These include grants for Prof. Lee’s work in Africa.

Student Notebooks

These are Prof. Lee’s notebooks from when he was a student. Many of his instructors are well known in the field of anthropology or worked with Lee during his career. For some of them, their records are also held by the University of Toronto. Instructors include: Ronald Cohen, Dr. C. D. Ellis, J.N. Emerson, Dr. Nathan Keyfitz, Dr. Thomas F. MacIlwraith, Cranford Pratt, Dr. James W. Vanstone, Dr. Fred W. Voget.

Graphic Records

This series consists of several hundred photographs and negatives taken as part of Prof. Lee’s research on the !Kung San including portraits of individuals, images of village life, hunting, ceremonies, rituals etc.. There are also slides taken during field trips to Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Rhodesia and several others African countries . There are also slides of an early field trip to a native reserve at Heron Bay in 1960 on the North shore of Lake Superior. Finally, there is one file of images taken at the New Native Resistance symposium in Toronto in 1972.

Sound and Moving Images

Sound recordings and video document Prof. Lee’s research. Reel to reel tapes contain interviews, testimonies with !Kung San bushmen, talks given by Lee on this very topic, taped vocabulary lists of the !Kung San people’s language, native music from Botswana and one radio interview with Prof. Lee. Two videos document a discussion among women academics on the role of women in a hunter and gatherer society. Finally two tapes contain a partial recording of the symposium of Political Struggles of Native Peoples, organized by Prof. Lee in 1972.

Lee Radio Talk

Interview of Dr. Lee of Harvard and Dr.William Boyd of Boston University Medical Centre on "The Origins - the races of man".

Paul Coe at McMaster

Paul Coe then leader of the Australian aboriginal Black Panther Party speaks about the Australian government policy toward aborigines and his groups demands for change and compensation.

Drum Dance

Sound recording done by anthropologist Prof. Richard Lee while on a field trip among the !Kung San, bushmen of the Kalahari.

Political Struggle of Native Peoples

Partial sound recording of sessions of the Political Struggles of Native Peoples held in Toronto in Dec. 1972 following the meeting of the American Association of Anthropologist meeting.

Kung Hunter and Gatherer by Richard Lee

Videotaped discussion group on women within a hunter gatherer society within the context of the !kung San. Group includes many several anthropologists including Patricia Draper, Meagan Biesele, Polly Wiessner and Marjorie Shostak.

[!Kung San bushman speaking]

Sound recording done by anthropologist Prof. Richard Lee while on a field trip among the !Kung San, bushmen of the Kalahari.

Educational Services Story of the Hunt

Sound recording done by anthropologist Prof. Richard Lee while on a field trip among the !Kung San, bushmen of the Kalahari. Text recorded at Dobe on Dec. 18 1964. Informant is Kuma.

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