New Guinea Micro-Evolution Project Papers, 1959-1994 (MSS 436)

Extent: 0.25 Linear feet (1 archives box)

Papers related to the New Guinea Micro-Evolution Project, led by James B. Watson. Also included are papers written for an American Anthropological Association conference session looking back at the study and its impact on the discipline. Papers range in date from 1959-1994, and include reports, meeting minutes, working papers, and conference papers.

The Committee on New Guinea Studies (CONGS), formed in the United States in 1956, consisted of anthropologists from six Pacific Coast universities. Concerned with the rapid disappearance of native populations untouched by Western influence, the group planned a long term study of populations in interior New Guinea. Beginning in early 1959, a cooperative study began in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Led by James Watson and supported by the National Science Foundation, the project examined the languages, cultures, psychological traits, racial characteristics, and ecological adaptations of the native populations in Gadsup, Tairora, Auyana, and Awa. Along with Watson, researchers included Howard McKaughan, Brian du Toit, Madeleine Leininger, Robert Littlewood, K.J. Pataki, and Robert Welsch.

Papers related to the Micro-Evolution Study in New Guinea, led my James B. Watson, as well as its impact on the discipline of anthropology. The collection has been arranged in two series: 1) PROJECT PAPERS and 2) CONFERENCE MATERIAL.


The series PROJECT PAPERS includes copies of documents related to the Micro-Evolution Study. These papers include meeting notes, a grant proposal to extend the study, memos documenting the project, and project reports written by James Watson.


The second series, CONFERENCE MATERIAL, contains papers, notes, and planning documents for a session at the 1994 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. The session - Sartor Resartus: The New Guinea Micro-Evolution Project, 1959-1983 and After - examined the Micro-Evolution Project's impact on research methods, interests, and anthropology in general. Speakers included David Boyd, David Cole, Brian Du Toit, Paula Brown Glick, Terence Hays, Madeleine Leininger, Robert Littlewood, Howard McKaughan, Donald Tuzin, Robert Welsch, and George Westermark. Many of the presenters were participants in the project. The series contains planning documents and notes from the session, as well as many of the participant's papers - both early drafts and finished works.

Container List


Box 1 Folder 1
Committee on New Guinea Studies (CONGS) - Meeting notes, August 28-29, 1959
Box 1 Folder 2
New Guinea Micro-evolution Studies "Memorandum Series," #1-17, 1961 - 1966
Box 1 Folder 3
The Dynamics of Micro-evolution of a Human Community: An Interdisciplinary Study in Behavioral, Environmental, and Biological Variation - National Science Foundation grant proposal, ca. 1963

Watson, James B

Box 1 Folder 4
Micro-Evolution Studies (New Guinea Project) - Work papers, 1962
Box 1 Folder 5
Various reports & notes, 1966, 1968


Box 1 Folder 6
Session proposal, schedule, planning materials, and meeting notes, ca. 1994

Session papers

Box 1 Folder 7
Boyd, David J. - The Irakia Awa: Historical Continuity, Change, and the "Jones Effect," 1964-1993, undated
Box 1 Folder 8
Cole, David - Function and Development in the East New Guinea Highlands, undated
Box 1 Folder 9
Du Toit, Brian M. - A New Guinea Research Experience: Looking Back After Thirty Years, ca. 1994
Box 1 Folder 10
Hays, Terence E. - Micro-Evolution Project Bibliography, undated
Box 1 Folder 11
Littlewood, Robert - The Microevolution Project and a "Science" of Anthropology, 1994
Box 1 Folder 12
McKaughan, Howard P. - An Overview from Linguistic Micro-Evolution Studies of the Eastern Family of the East New Guinea Highlands, 1994
Box 1 Folder 13
Welsch, Robert L. - Regional Research in Melanesia: From the New Guinea Micro-Evolution Project to the A.B. Lewis Project and Beyond, 1994
Box 1 Folder 14
Westermark, George - Colonial Ethnography: The Micro-Evolution of Kiap Cultural Analysis, undated