The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Stimson, J. F. (John Francis), 1883-1958
John Francis Stimson (1883-1958)
12 Linear feet (21 boxes)
The John Francis Stimson papers
include manuscripts, transcripts, pre-publication materials, and photographs
collected by J. Frank Stimson in his research on the Tuamotu culture.
SERIES I. Informant Manuscripts
A. Paea a Avehe
C. Fariua a Makitua
D. Tama a Tama
E. Unknown Author
SERIES II. Informant Transcripts
A. Paea a Avehe
C. Unknown Author
SERIES III. John Frank Stimson Material SERIES IV. Kenneth P. Emory Material SERIES V. Related Authors Material SERIES VI. Photographs
Scope and Content Note
The John Francis Stimson papers include manuscripts, transcripts, pre-publication
materials, and photographs collected by J. Frank Stimson in his research on the
Tuamotu culture. It includes material from several authors and spans a period of
about twenty years from the early 1930s through the 1950s. The majority of the
collection consists of original documents used by Stimson in his research and
writing; several documents have been rearranged, relabeled, and corrected several
times by Stimson. The original order of the page numbers has been preserved wherever
possible, however, the overarching method of organization is first by type of
material and then by author. When multiple versions of the same publication are
present, each document is listed without implication as to order written.
The collection has been organized into six series, the first three of which
contain the manuscripts and transcripts written in Tuamotuan by Stimson's
informants. Series four through six consist of the research, notes, and
pre-publication materials produced by Stimson and his colleagues.
Series I. Informant Manuscripts consists of
manuscript memo books and loose-leaf notes written by the native inhabitants who
Stimson interviewed. The series was organized chronologically based on time of
interview with informant. Many of the memo books also include a table of contents on
the cover or first page. The material with unknown authors was kept at the end of
Series II. Informant Transcripts consists of the
typed transcripts of the notebooks and notes in previous series. There are also
several folders of materials whose author was not marked and these are included at
the end of the series and are arranged, whenever possible, by island of origin. Page
numbers included are based on Stimson's system which does not run consecutively.
Folders labeled Index appear to be notes collected by
Emory by informants.
Series III. John F. Stimson Material consists of
Stimson's writing, including several versions of his writings on the Kiho cult, his
editors' notes, as well as translated and annotated chants, myths, and legends. It
also includes a folder of correspondence to his mother, sister, and other
Series IV. Kenneth P. Emory Material consists of four
folders of notes and research collected by Emory.
Series V. Related Authors Material consists of
material written by various authors and collected by Stimson. This material relates
to Stimson's Polynesian research. Included within this series are notes on the
island of Raivavae by Susanne McConnaughey, who also contributed to Stimson's
publication Songs and Tales of the Sea Kings.
Series VI. Photographs is a collection of
photographs taken primarily by Kenneth Emory and which were mostly numbered but
John Francis Stimson was born in Plainfield, New Jersey,
on October 3, 1883, to John Ward Stimson and Eleanor Elvira Maxson. He went to
school at Phillips Andover Academy, pursued literary and musical interests at Yale
without taking a degree, and studied architecture at the Ateliers of the École des
Beaux Arts in Paris. He had no formal training in either linguistics or
Stimson first arrived in Tahiti on vacation in 1912, and remained in French
Polynesia until his death. Upon arrival in the islands, Stimson determined to master
the local speech and commenced to work with Teuira Henry, the noted compiler of
Ancient Tahiti. He set himself to learning one
hundred Tahitian words each day, and soon had acquired a vocabulary that permitted
him to attack the more difficult problems of grammar. His primary interests were to
study the classical speech and culture of pre-European Polynesia.
In 1918, Stimson completed a Tahitian grammar to be used by the Mormon Mission,
an analysis that established his reputation as a Polynesian scholar. By 1923, he was
approached by the Bernice P. Bishop Museum (Honolulu, HI) to assist Kenneth P. Emory
as a research associate in linguistics for a survey of the Tuamotu Islands in French
Polynesia. His assignment was to make a study of the Tuamotuan dialects. As
representative for the Bishop Museum, Stimson attended Yale University's first
session of the Linguistic Institute in 1928, the same year he was appointed as
special editor for Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia of Webster's New International Dictionary (2nd edition). A controversy
later arose when Stimson and Emory reached opposing views about the existence of a
Tuamotu cult of the supreme god, Kiho-Tumu (Kio-Tumu), which ultimately changed
Stimson's association with the Bishop Museum.
In 1951 Donald Marshall received a fellowship from the American Museum of
Natural History (New York, NY) and the Peabody Museum (Salem, MA) to collaborate
with Stimson to make available his forty years of Polynesian linguistic and
ethnology research. After the death of Stimson, Marshall completed the editing of
the Dictionary of Tuamotuan Dialects, which was
published by the Peabody Museum in 1964.
Stimson passed away on October 20, 1958, in Punaauia, Tahiti Polynesia,
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Brooks, Eleanor Stimson, d. 1945
Emory, Kenneth Pike, 1897-
Fariua a Makitua
McConnaughey, Susanne, 1911-
Paea a Avehe
Stimson, J. F. (John Francis), 1883-1958
Tahiti (French Polynesia : Island)
Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia)
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
John Francis Stimson (1883-1958) Papers, E 56, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex
Museum, Salem, Mass.
This material was found in the collection. The folder of correspondence (B20 F7) was
donated to the Peabody Museum by Mrs. Eleanor Stimson Brooks (acc #16,373).
Collection processed by Johanna Umana and Patrick Connelly, August 2010. Updated by
Tamara Gaydos, April 2016.
Stimson, John Frank, and Donald Stanley Marshall. A Dictionary
of Some Tuamotuan Dialects of the Polynesian Language. Salem, MA: Peabody
Museum of Salem, 1964.
Stimson, John Frank. Tuamotuan Religion (Museum Bulletin
103). Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1933.
Stimson, John Frank. The Cult of Kiho-Tumu (Museum
Bulletin 111). Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1933.
Stimson, John Frank. Tuamotuan Legends (Island of Anaa):
Part I, The Demigods. Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1937.
Stimson, John Frank. Songs and Tales of the Sea Kings:
Interpretations of the Oral Literature of Polynesia. Salem, MA: Peabody
Museum of Salem, 1957.
Fred McConnaughey Papers, uncataloged Ethnology collection
Donald S. Marshall Papers, uncataloged Ethnology collection