JONA articles concerning Thelma Adamson:

  1. Whatever Happened to Thelma Adamson? A Footnote in the History of Northwest Anthropological Research [Spring 1999, 33(1)]
    • William R. Seaburg

Thelma Adamson

In the summer of 1926, Thelma Adamson drove across the country with Melville Jacobs and Otto Klineberg to undertake field research with Native Americans in Washington State. During the trip she studied Chehalis and Cowlitz Salish folklore and ethnology. She often wrote to her mentor Franz Boas about her time in the field. Two years after this cross-country trip, she became an Associate in Anthropology at the University of Washington. She taught a course, Indians of the Northwest Coast, and continued her research. Eventually her work was published, entitled Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish in 1934 as Memoirs of the American Folk-lore Society, Volume 27.

Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish is a major contribution to our knowledge of western Washington Salish oral traditions. It contains 190 texts collected from 19 consultants; with few exceptions, all were collected in English or in English translation. The bulk of the stories (155) represent Upper Chehalis and Cowlitz Salish narrative traditions, primarily myths and tales, constituting the largest published collection of oral literature for either of these groups. One valuable part of this collection is the inclusion of as many as four variants of the same tale-type. Adamson also included a useful 43-page section of abstracts with comparative notes from eight regional text collections. Although the consultants' language has probably been altered to conform to standard English, the stories do not appear to be bowdlerized. Among other research purposes, this collection provides a rich data source for those interested in the content-and-style analysis of Native texts told in English.