Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin (April 2, 1903 – July 10, 1988) was an
anthropologist, folklorist, and ethnohistorian.
Erminie was the child of Erminie Brooke Wheeler and Roscoe Wheeler.
She went to Technical High School in Oakland, California.
She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1923,
and returned there after working for a newspaper in Florida, to pursue
a master's degree in anthropology (1930). Her master's thesis was
entitled "Mythological Elements common to the Kowa and Five Other
Plains Tribes." She married linguistic anthropologist Charles F.
Voegelin, with whom she jointly conducted fieldwork among Native
American tribes. In 1938, fieldwork among the
Tübatulabal people of
northern California led to her first book, Tübatulabal Ethnography
published by the
University of California Press
University of California Press in 1938.
In 1933 Eli Lilly, president of the prominent pharmaceutical company
in Indiana, created a graduate fellowship at Yale University, to honor
Native American history in southern Indiana. Charles Voegelin was the
first recipient for the fellowship but it was then given to Erminie.
The research she conducted during the fellowship inspired her
dissertation. She holds the distinction of being the first woman to
receive a doctoral degree in anthropology from
Yale University when
she received her degree in 1939 with a dissertation entitled "Shawnee
Mortuary Customs," published five years later by the Indiana
Historical Society. In the 1940s, she worked in the upper Great Lakes
conducting linguistic and ethnographic fieldwork among the
Ojibwe living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A specialist in
Native American folklore, she founded the American Society for
Ethnohistory in 1954 and was its first editor of the journal
Ethnohistory until 1964.
In 1982, the Society created its
Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize for
best book-length work in the field of ethnohistory. She taught in
anthropology, history, and folklore at Indiana University,
Bloomington, beginning in the fall of 1943. There she also directed
the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley Research Project from 1956 to 1969, the
date of her retirement. The research reports on tribes of the region
are now housed as the Ohio Valley-Great Lakes
Ethnohistory Archive in
Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology
Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at Indiana University.
She received a
Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947 to pursue comparative
studies of the folklore and mythology of American Indians and Eskimos.
In 1948, she became president of the American
Folklore Society, and
from 1949 to 1951, she served as secretary for the American
Anthropological Association. She edited the Journal of American
Folklore from 1941 to 1946. She was one of the original inductees into
the Fellows of the American
Folklore Society in 1960. Upon retirement,
she moved to Great Falls, Virginia, to live with her daughter and
son-in-law. In the fall of 1985 she gave her
Shawnee field notes and
remaining professional books and papers to the
Newberry Library in
Chicago. She died of cardiac arrest on July 10, 1988.
Tubatulabal Ethnography, 1938. Berkeley: University of California
Shawnee Traditions: C.C. Trowbridge's Account, 1939, (with Vernon
Kinietz) . Ann Arbor: University of
Map of North American Indian Languages, 1941, (with C.F. Voegelin).
American Ethnological Society.
Culture Element Distributions 20: Northeast California, 1942.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Mortuary Customs of the
Shawnee and Other Eastern Tribes, 1944.
Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. WorldCat
Tanner, Helen Hornbeck. 1991. "
Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin (1903-1988),
Founder of the American Society for Ethnohistory."
ISNI: 0000 0000 8297 4191