This series of six and one-half boxes contains materials relating to Mary Douglas' scholarly research and publication. There is little concerning her teaching career and practically nothing of a personal nature. In addition to a small amount of biographical materials, the papers are arranged into two subseries: African research materials and publications.
The African research materials consist chiefly of research notes, diaries and correspondence compiled in the field during 1949-50 and 1953, with a small amount of later correspondence and drafts. The materials are broken into the following categories: correspondence, research notes, journals, and theses.
A folder of general correspondence contains material relating to both research topics and the political situation in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two folders contain correspondence (1972-77) with and about the young anthropologist Ngokwey Ndelamb, a member of the Lele tribe, concerning his own work, his investigations updating Douglas' research among the Lele, and her efforts to further his scholarly career.
Eleven folders of field research notes contain handwritten notes, maps, diagrams, charts, and drafts (co 1949-53) on various aspects of the geography, economy, language, and culture of Nyasaland and particularly, the Lele of the Kasai. The notes are undated and there appears to be considerable overlap between topics.
Seven journals (c. 1949-53) contain notes on similar topics. Three of these are undated journals of reading notes, in French, on Africa and the Congo. Two are small, undated notebooks on language. The remainder date from 195.E and contain diary entries and notes on hunting, sorcery, pollution, and kinship.
Rounding out the African research materials are typewritten copies of Mary Douglas's unpublished B.S. thesis (1948) entitled “Bride Wealth in Africa” and her unpublished Ph.D. thesis, “A Study of the Social Organization of the Kasai” (1952).
Materials relating to publications include notes, drafts, clippings, reviews, and correspondence (1953-1985) with agents, publishers, editors, scholars and other specialists, co-authors, and reviewers. The dates and precise nature of the materials vary, but there is a significant amount of correspondence with several scholars providing comments and critiques of Douglas' work. In the case of Risk and Culture, copies of the correspondence of Aaron Wildavsky are included. Apart from these materials on specific titles, there is a small quantity of general correspondence (1970-85), a folder of correspondence concerning reprint permissions (1978-83), and a folder of correspondence on Douglas's relationship with the Russell Sage Foundation. There are also valuable notes and correspondence on pollution, a concept with which she dealt in several of her works. Related materials will be found in the folder of notes on “Leviticus XI.”