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Simon Ottenberg Papers

Identifier: 35/29

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection spans from the beginning of his scholarly career in the 1950s to today, and includes unpublished material by Simon Ottenberg, including field notes, correspondence, drawings and photographs, and collections of artists' notes, exhibit and gallery information, and other ephemera. Ottenberg's field notes from his work on the Abakaliki, Limba, and Afikpo are arranged first in the collection, followed by his notes on Contemporary African art and artists, then several series of miscellaneous articles and unpublished papers by various authors, gallery and exhibition information, and biographies and bibliographies. Correspondence (to and from both Simon and Phoebe Ottenberg), photos, and the Phoebe Ottenberg papers are next, followed by manuscripts of Simon Ottenberg and then hand-drawn and commercial maps of Nigeria. The papers end with a film script of the TV movie Nigerian Art-Kindred Spirits (1990) and exhibition information about Poetics of Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group at the National Museum of African Art, October 22, 1997-April 26, 1998, and a 1997 calendar from the Ottenberg household.


  • 1950s-2000s


Conditions Governing Access

Please note that languages books, vertical file, rare books, posters archival and manuscript materials and photographs are available for consultation. To inquire about access to this collection, please contact the Herskovits Library at


35.00 Boxes

1 folio

Language of Materials



Simon Ottenberg is emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he was a faculty member from 1955-1991. He received his PhD from Northwestern University in 1957. His advisor was Melville J. Herskovits, founder of the Program of African Studies. He is a noted scholar of African art, particularly Nigerian art.

Arrangement Note

Simon Ottenberg's original arrangement has been preserved. Materials are arranged by type.

Method of Acquisition

Donated by Simon Ottenberg in 2005.

Processing Information

Processed by Matthew Teti in 2005.

Guide to the Simon Ottenberg Papers
Michelle Guittar
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Repository

Main Library, 5th Floor, East Tower
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US