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Donald Pitkin Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00305

Scope and Contents

Anthropological materials include research notes, manuscript drafts, typescripts, proofs, photographs, and correspondence related to Pitkin's ethnographic studies in Sermoneta, Italy and his subsequent published books: The House that Giacomo Built (1985), its Italian translation La Casa che Giacomo Costrui (1985), La Ruota Gira (1998), and Mamma, Casa, Posto Fisso (1998). Also included is research, correspondence, photographs, and typescripts of Pitkin's unpublished work about a family in Goettern, Germany.

Collection includes Pitkin's class notes, assignments, and syllabi from courses taught at Amherst College; material from College committees on which he served; research, correspondence, notes, drafts, and typescripts relating to published and unpublished works, speeches, and articles. Also included are journals, correspondence, and photographs relating to Pitkin's several year residence and research in Sermoneta, Italy.

Dates

  • 1943-1998

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Donald Pitkin Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes. All requests for materials from this collection must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Donald Pitkin Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Donald Stevenson Pitkin was born in Boston, MA on January 6, 1922 to Donald Stevenson Pitkin of Scituate, MA and Dorothy Alice Bacon of Chicago, IL. He attended the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA from 1937-1940, after which he attended Harvard College. During WWII, Pitkin interrupted his studies to enlist in the 10th Mountain Division and served in the Division's engagement against the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands. As a Second Lieutenant in the field artillery, he trained as a forward observer for the projected invasion of Japan. After the war, Pitkin returned to Harvard where he received his BA (1947) and in 1954 received his doctorate in anthropology, based on his fieldwork in cultural anthopology he conducted in Sermoneta, Italy from 1951-1953. In 1948, Pitkin married Emily Perkins Knapp (1928-1964) and they had two children. In 1958, he became a professor of anthopology at Northeastern University and later became chair of the Sociology Department. In 1959, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship with affiliation to the Institute of Agrarian Economics in Portici, Naples. In 1964, following the death of his wife, Pitkin accepted a position at Amherst College and moved his family from Cambridge to Amherst. Donald Pitkin introduced anthropology to the Amherst College curriculum, became the first professor of anthropology and the founder of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. He remained at Amherst College for the duration of his teaching career, retiring in 1992.

One of the first American anthropologists to study European culture, Pitkin authored several books about the life and cultures of Sermoneta's people, including The House that Giacomo Built, Mamma casa posto fisso: Sermoneta rivisitata 1951-1986 (1990), and La Ruota Gira: Vita a Sermoneta 1951-1952 (1998).

The House that Giacomo Built was published by Oxford University Press in 1985, was made into a film of the same title, and won two prestigious Italian awards: the Premio Guido Dorso and the Premio Internazionale di Studi.

In 1999, the village of Sermoneta held a "Donald Pitkin Day," celebrating the anthropolgical research and work Pitkin conducted in the village throughout his life.

Citations:
Donald Pitkin obituary. Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 15, 2012.

Extent

41 Linear feet (35 record boxes, 2 oversize flat boxes, 12 photo albums, 3 audiotape reels, 6 rolls 16mm film)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Papers documenting the professional and academic life of Donald S. Pitkin, Amherst College Anthropology professor, 1964-1992. Collection includes Pitkin's class notes, assignments, and syllabi from courses taught at Amherst College; material from College committees on which he served; research, correspondence, notes, drafts, and typescripts relating to published and unpublished works, speeches, and articles. Also included are journals, correspondence, and photographs relating to Pitkin's several year residence and research in Sermoneta, Italy.

Arrangement

These papers are organized into six series:

  1. Series 1: Teaching and Administrative Work
  2. Series 2: Lectures, Essays, and Conference Presentations
  3. Series 3: Sermoneta, Italy
  4. Series 4: Weimar Family Project, Germany
  5. Series 5: Published and Unpublished Manuscripts
  6. Series 6: Personal Journals and Notebooks

Related Materials

Donald Pitkin oral history

Author
Chris Barber
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299