John Liep Papers, 1920-2007 (bulk 1971-1980) (MSS 782)

Restrictions: Original sound recordings are restricted. Listening copies may be available for researchers.

Extent: 4.3 Linear feet (10 archives boxes, 1 card file box, 3 oversized folders)

Papers of Danish anthropologist John Liep (1936-2014), who was known for his research on Rossel Island (or Yela), located in the Louisiade Archipelago, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. The collection includes field notes and notebooks, slides, negatives, sound recordings, writings, drawings, and correspondence.

John Aage Liep was born September 20, 1936 in Horsens, Denmark. Originally a student of architecture at the University of Copenhagen, Liep switched to social anthropology, completing a master's degree in 1970. He began his field studies on Rossel Island (or Yela) in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea in 1971, often accompanied by his wife, Annette Liep, and their two children. Liep was best known for his studies of Rossel Island economics and social systems. In particular, he described the ranked exchange of shells on the island as displays of distinction and rank, rather than as a monetary system, in contrast to the earlier studies of W.E. Armstrong.

Liep was a lecturer at the University of Copenhagen Institute of Anthropology from 1970 to 1978 and an associate professor from 1979 to 2003, when he became associate professor emeritus. He was also associated with the Australian National University in Canberra for his field studies in Papua New Guinea. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation for the University of Copenhagen, which was published as A Papuan Plutocracy: Ranked Exchange on Rossel Island. Liep continued writing and attending conferences until shortly before his death on November 14, 2014.

Papers of Danish anthropologist John Liep (1936-2014), who was known for his research on Rossel Island (or Yela), located in the Louisiade Archipelago, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. The collection includes field notes and notebooks, slides, negatives, sound recordings, writings, drawings, and correspondence. Liep traveled to Rossel Island in 1971-1972, 1973, 1980, and 1989-1990.


Container List


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) CORRESPONDENCE AND WRITINGS: Liep's incoming correspondence with anthropologists and research institutions, arranged chronologically. Correspondence with anthropologist Wallace Edwin Armstrong can be found in the RESEARCH series. Includes drafts for two articles by Liep on Rossel Island culture. A small amount of materials are in Danish.

Box 10 Folder 1
Correspondence, 1965-2006
Box 1 Folder 1
Investigation and Processes of Social Reproduction in the Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea, with Special Reference to Rossel Island (Yela) - Preliminary report, 1980 October
Box 1 Folder 2
Ernæringens sociale og kulturelle rammer på Rossel Island, Papua New Guinea (The Social and Cultural Framework of Nutrition on Rossel Island, Papua New Guinea), ca. 1990


Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) RESEARCH. Arranged in two subseries: A) Notebooks, and B) Notes and Data. Liep kept notes in English, Danish, and Yélîtyne, the language of Rossel Island. When writing words in Yélîtyne, Liep chose spellings that reflected the language as he heard it spoken near Pum village, and which may differ from spellings used by other researchers on Rossel Island.

A) Notebooks: Liep's field notebooks from his travel to Rossel Island and other locations in Papua New Guinea from 1970 to 1990, arranged chronologically.

B) Notes and Data: Notes kept by Liep on the people and culture of Rossel Island, particularly near Pum village, arranged alphabetically by subject. Includes information on feasts, payments, shell money, language, myths, genealogies, census materials, and agriculture. The subseries includes a file of notes, correspondence, and photographs regarding British anthropologist Wallace Edwin Armstrong, who traveled to Rossel Island in 1921.


Box 1 Folder 3-9
Rossel Island field notes and table of contents, 1971-1973
Box 2 Folder 1-3
Primary notes (question notes) and patrol notes, 1971-1973
Box 2 Folder 4
Notes taken in Ukarumpa, Misima, and Cheme, Rossel, 1971
Box 2 Folder 5
Copy of Father Earl's genealogical notes. Copy of government census (Wulanga Bay area), 1971-1972
Box 2 Folder 6
Genealogies - Primary notes, 1972
Box 2 Folder 7
Survey book, 1972
Box 2 Folder 8
Journal - Pumu activities, 1972-1973
Box 3 Folder 1
Notes on pig feasts, mortuary feasts, and marriage transactions, 1972-1973
Box 3 Folder 2-3
Notebooks, 1977-1983
Box 3 Folder 4
Kula conferences, 1978, 1981
Box 3 Folder 5
Travel notes, Milne Bay Province, 1980
Box 3 Folder 6-8
Rossel Island rough notes, 1980
Box 4 Folder 1-3
Rossel Island, 1980-1990

Notes and Data

Box 4 Folder 4
Big men, 1972-1973
Box 4 Folder 5
Brideprice payments, 1971-1980
Box 10 Folder 2
Cash cropping, 1971-1980
Box 4 Folder 6-10
Census materials and genealogies, 1930-1990

Includes Catholic Mission, Rossel Island, Wulanga Bay, and government census data.

Box 4 Folder 11
Collection of ethnographics from Rossel Island by John and Annette Liep, 1973
Box 4 Folder 12
Dances and sing-sings, 1972-1996
Box 4 Folder 13
Disputes, 1972-1980
Box 10 Folder 3
Food rules, etc., 1980-1990

Includes slides.

Box 4 Folder 14
Gardening, 1971-1989
Box 10 Folder 4
Oversize FB-016 Folder 10
Box 4 Folder 15
Groups/clans/land tenure, 1972-1980
Box 4 Folder 16
History, 1972-2006
Box 5 Folder 1
Kinship, 1972-2007
Box 5 Folder 2
Local council/tax, 1972-1973
Box 10 Folder 5
Language, 1971-1987
Box 5 Folder 3
Miscellaneous notes, 1973-2005
Box 5 Folder 4-5
Mortuary feasts and payments, 1971-1990
Box 5 Folder 6
Myths and legends, 1972-1980
Box 5 Folder 7
Other feasts, 1972-1973
Box 10 Folder 6
Other payments, 1972-1989
Box 5 Folder 8
Other production, 1972-1980
Box 10 Folder 7
Other valuables/trade, 1971-1980

Includes photographs.

Box 5 Folder 9
Patrol reports - Notes for 1908-1933
Box 5 Folder 10-11
Pig feasts, 1972-1980
Box 10 Folder 8
Rossel Island census division area study, 1971
Box 5 Folder 12
Rossel Island plants, 1973-1977
Box 5 Folder 13
Sacred places, 1972-1980
Box 5 Folder 14-16
Shell money, ndap and kö, 1971-1989
Box 5 Folder 17
Sorcery, magic, and healing, 1972-1990
Box 5 Folder 18
Wallace Edwin Armstrong - Notes, correspondence, photographs, and genealogies, 1920-1993

Includes photographs of W.E. Armstrong taken on Rossel Island ca. 1921.

Box 11 Folder 1-3
Wulanga Bay ward hamlet and household files, and biographical notes - Index cards, 1971-1973


Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) PHOTOGRAPHS: Slides and negatives taken by Liep on Rossel Island and other locations in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and his lists of the images. The slides were numbered by Liep starting in 1971; the numbering system starts over in 1980. Includes images of John Liep and his family on Rossel Island.

Box 6 Folder 1-7
Rossel Island - Slides #1-700 and image list, 1971-1973
Box 7 Folder 1-4
Rossel Island - Slides #701-1069, 1973
Box 7 Folder 5-7
Rossel Island, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Trobriands - Slides #1-200 and image list, 1980
Box 8 Folder 1-5
Rossel Island and Trobriands - Slides #201-650, 1980
Box 8 Folder 6
Negatives and image list, 1972-1973
Box 9 Folder 1
Pictures of some Rossel people, by John Lamonga and James Henderson (in Rossel and English) - Small publication, 1979


Scope and Content of Series

Series 4) MAPS AND DRAWINGS: Drawings of shell money by Liep, annotated maps of the Louisiade Archipelago, and diagrams of villages on Rossel Island.

Oversize FB-016 Folder 10
Drawings of shell money
Oversize FB-016 Folder 11
Maps and diagrams of Louisiade Archipelago, Rossel Island, and villages
Oversize MC-012-06
Village diagram


Scope and Content of Series

Series 5) SOUND RECORDINGS: Audio recordings of singing, talking, and drumming on Rossel Island and other locations in the Louisiade Archipelago in 1972 and 1973. Includes a short speech by Liep to the Rossel Islanders. On reel-to-reel tapes and audiocassettes.

Box 9 Folder 2
Pyilewe, Mbwode, Ndawa Island, and Rossel Island - Reel-to-reel tape, 1972 July 13-14
Box 9 Folder 3
Ndama, Yimawie, Yemnaikela, Rossel Island - Reel-to-reel tape, 1972 July 19-20
Box 11 Folder 4
Band I. Ndama, Yimawie, Yemnaikela, Rossel Island, Pyilewe, Mbwode, and Ndawa Island - Audiocassette (110 minutes), 1972 July 13-20

Includes John Liep saying farewell to the Rossel Islanders. Side 2 starts at 8 minutes.

Box 11 Folder 5
Band II. Pyilewe, Mbwode, Ndawa Island, Rossel Island - Audiocassette (side 1, 52 minutes), 1972 July 13-14
Box 11 Folder 6
Tpilewe chambe - Audiocassette (side 1, 60 minutes), 1973 August 15
Box 11 Folder 7
Pig feast, Tumnbwye, and Pyilewe - Audiocassette (120 minutes), 1973 September 9
Box 11 Folder 8
Ptilewe chambe - Audiocassette (102 minutes), 1973 November 11