American Philosophical Society - Franz Boaz letters

There were only two letters in this material archived at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. I asked about the fact that both letters were from Elizabeth, and wondered where the letters Boaz wrote in response might be, the Curator Robert S. Cox indicated that sometimes all correspondence is not kept. Sometimes this occurs before the materials are even submitted to the archive.

In the first letter dated October 6, 1931, Bessie tells Dr. Boaz what she has been doing since her return from Brazil. (Once again my words appear in blue and Bessie's are in red italic.) "When I came west to visit my brother here, he and his wife asked me to stay with them this semester and attend the University of Chicago. I can live with them and commute and this makes it very nice for me. Considering the fact that one returns from such journeys as I was on last year with a financial limp it was quite an inducement."

She continues describing an article she submitted to the National Geographic. She felt that this article was of some merit, but describes her article for the Good Housekeeping Magazine (text is on this website) in a very self-deprecating fashion, "published an article of mine, but this was a mere record of some of the hardships of the journey and of no real value whatever. This was what the magazine was most interested in and they paid me well for the article so I felt that I couldn't very well refuse to to let them have it. The article that I wrote this summer I believe you will be interested in and I shall let you know if it should be printed.

I am taking two courses under Dr. Radcliffe-Brown of Australia who is here, or rather who is to be here for he hasn't arrived yet."

In the second letter dated April 6, from on board the S.S. Crispin, at Sea, she thanks Boaz for a letter of introduction and a baggage list which a Dr. Benedict gave her, and suggests that the letter of introduction would facilitate things with the officials at Belem. She also gives him information about writing the preface for the Red Jungle Boy. She describes trying to do the illustrations in color while the sea is casting her about.

"Before I left N.Y., I took my little book, Red Jungle Boy, to Harcourt Brace Publishers, and they liked it and asked me to sign a contract. They gave me a cash bonus of $150 with the promise of advanced royalties whenever I asked for them. The book, however will not come out for a year. They want me to do the pictures in color and I have brought them along. If the waves will quiet up a bit, I will get them finished before we reach Brazil. They think that there is a good chance of placing the book in the schools as a reference reader."

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