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Marian E. White papers

 Collection — Box: 1-12, 13+
Identifier: 22-9F-422

Scope and Contents

The papers of Marian White pertain primarily to her work on the prehistory and ethnohistory of the Iroquois and other Native American groups in New York State.

Numerous drafts of conference papers and articles, as well as published papers, document the growth and development of Marian White's thought. While earlier papers deal with physical artifacts and settlement patterns, later papers reflect a growing concern with public archaeology, the protection of archaeological sites and the concerns of present day Native Americans.

Marian White's notes from the University of Michigan, where she received her M.A. and Ph.D., are detailed and offer an unusually complete view of the state of graduate instruction in anthropology and archeology in the early 1950s.

The collection also includes a number of tape recordings. Most of these are cassettes, used by Marian White for the dictation of letters and reports, but two tapes record the recollections of Nellie Jack, a Native American woman, about Iroquois life on the Cornplanter Reservation.

The original folder titles have been maintained. Elsewhere in the finding aid, the term 'Indian' has been replaced with 'Native American.'


  • 1934-1975


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

The bulk of the Marian E. White Papers are open for research.


The original format audiotape recordings are restricted from playback; digitized mp3 files are open to researchers. Please note: This collection is stored off-site. Access to collection requires 3 business days’ notice. Contact to schedule an appointment.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical Note

UB Anthropology Professor Frederick Gearing said that "Anthropology was Marian White's vocation. More than that, it was her life. More than that, even, anthropology was her religion" (Reporter, 11/6/1975). Indeed, Marian White, a Professor of Anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences, dedicated her career to western New York archaeology during her sixteen years of service at UB.

In 1942 White graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree. Shortly after graduation she joined the Army Air Force, working from 1944 to 1945 as an IBM Tabulator Machine Operator.

Upon her return to civilian life, she held a position as a Science Guide at the Buffalo Museum of Science until 1952. White became the first woman to graduate from the University of Michigan with a doctorate in Anthropology in 1956.

After receiving her Ph.D., White worked for the next two years at the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences. Initially, White worked as a Research Associate in Archaeology at UB while simultaneously holding the position of Assistant Curator of Anthropology at the Buffalo Museum of Science. She also served as the Assistant Curator of Archaeology at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. In 1968, White was made full Professor in the Department of Anthropology, a position she held until her death on October 31, 1975.

White's archaeological fieldwork took her to Native American sites in New York, Illinois, and Canada. Her growing interest in highway salvage -- protecting important Native American archaeological sites from highway development -- led her to a variety of administrative honors and positions. In 1969, she established the Highway Salvage program at UB to protect lands from highway and industrial development. Her involvement in Native American issues did not end with her professional work; she often volunteered for the same Native American communities who had claims to the sites on which she worked. The Auburn Historical Society awarded White the Cornplanters Medal for her work with the Iroquois.

Marian White was an important part of efforts to preserve the local and regional history:

She served as the first President of the New York Archaeological Council from 1972 to 1974.

She served as the Director of the Niagara Frontier Archaeological Project.

She was appointed by Governor Rockefeller to the New York State Board on Historic Preservation.

During her lifetime, White envisioned an anthropological research museum that would house the artifacts of North American archaeology. In 1979, the Marian E. White Anthropology Museum was established in association with the Anthropology Library.

She also helped organize the University at Buffalo Archaeological Survey which trains qualified Cultural Resource Management (CRM) professionals and provides CRM services to Western New York. The Survey's mission praises White as a "a staunch proponent and pioneer of historic preservation and CRM archaeology. The Survey continues as a legacy to her recognition of the need for qualified local professionals with regional interests in public archaeology and archaeological site protection."


Born, Hartland Corners, Niagara County, New York
B.A., Cornell University
Army Air Force, IBM Tabulator Machine Operator
Science Guide, Buffalo Museum of Science
M.A. in Anthropology, University of Michigan
Research Associate and Junior Anthropologist, Rochester Museum and Science Center
Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Michigan
Research Associate in Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo
Assistant Professor, University of Buffalo
Professor of Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo
Established Highway Salvage program, State University of New York at Buffalo
President, New York Archaeological Council


6 Linear Feet (8 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 3 card boxes, 1 flat box)

0.976 Gigabytes (9 files)


The collection contains drafts of papers and articles as well as other materials relating to Marian White's work on the prehistory and ethnohistory of the Iroquois and other Native American groups in New York State. Also included are detailed course notes from graduate work at the University of Michigan and personal memorabilia.


The collection consist of nine series:

  1. General Files
  2. University of Michigan related materials
  3. Manuscripts of Papers
  4. Published Articles and Papers
  5. Handbook of North American Indians
  6. Conferences
  7. Index Card Files
  8. Memorabilia
  9. Tape Recordings

Acquisition Information

This collection of material was donated to the University Archives by Ethel White, sister of Marian White, on April 8, 1976 and July 21, 1977. Additional items transferred from the Department of Anthropology, September 5, 1978.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

22/9F/579 Marian E. White Additional Papers, 1960-1975

Processing Information

Processed by Archives staff, circa 1980.


Finding Aid for the Marian E. White papers
Finding aid prepared by University Archives staff.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)