Fonds 90-012 - Norman Townsend fonds

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Norman Townsend fonds

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  • 1962-1979 (Creation)
    Norman Townsend

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97 cm of textual records
25 maps

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Biographical history

Norman Arthur Townsend was born in England 14 October 1940. He attended public school in England and received his undergraduate B.Sc. degree from the London School of Economics in 1962. In 1962 he moved to Africa, where his family was, and attended Makerere University in Uganda. From this institution he received his Postgraduate Diploma in Education.

Townsend came to Canada and obtained his Master's degree at McMaster University in Hamilton and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He doctoral thesis was written about "The social riverine agriculture of the Pokomo of north-east Kenya". He lived in a mud hut for two years and learned the language of the people he lived with. During his time at the universities he had work as a teaching assistant. He taught four years of high school in Kenya. He received a number of grants from various sources for research. He published "Lineage and generation in Pokomo Kinship" (1972), "A Note on Pokomo Beekeeping" (1972), and "Biased Symbiosis on Tana River" (1973). His Ph.D. thesis was finished in 1973. He started teaching Anthropology in 1977 at Trent University. He could read French and he could read and speak Swahili with a high degree of proficiency. He was married in 1969 to a Canadian and they had two children. Norman Arthur Townsend died unexpectedly on 30 August 1979.

Custodial history

This fonds was created by Norman Townsend and in the custody of Christine M. Townsend, his wife, before it was donated to the Trent University Archives.

Scope and content

This fonds consists of Norman Townsend's original research material, including extensive field notes, of the Pokomo people of Tana Irrigation Scheme, Kenya; research papers by Norman Townsend (& others); university course outlines & lecture material; bibliographies; correspondence with researchers, universities, and the Canada Council, etc. as well as maps, especially of Africa.

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This fonds was donated by Christine M. Townsend.


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Box 1


1: Norman Townsend's Cirriculum Vitae plus personal data sheet - also miscellaneous personal papers including 2 colour photographs, possibly of Tana Irrigation Scheme, Kenya, magazine of Kisumu Day Secondary School in Africa where he taught from 1963-1967, notification from Current Anthropology that his article would be published, receipts for books purchased, etc.

2: Correspondence with Canadian universities re: teaching appointments, salaries, applications for employment in teaching, arrangements for presentations of papers, etc. (1974-1979)

3: University of Toronto doctorate requirements, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada / Canada Council grants, etc. -ie. University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies PhD requirements, research suggestions, etc. (1970-1979) Note: Norman Townsend received his PhD from University of Toronto in March 1976. His PhD thesis is entitled "Limited Options: Contingency and Constraint in the Economy of the Pokomo of North Eastern Kenya". -ie. Canada Council / SSHERC research grant notices, related correspondence, periodic critiques of submitted research reports and updates, etc. (1976-1979) (Also in this folder is Norman Townsend's "Preliminary ideas about a thesis proposal", a 2-page typewritten document undated. There is also a Table of Contents for his thesis and comments about his thesis written by himself and directed perhaps to the SSHERC committee - also interim reports 1971-1972)

4: Correspondence with University of Nairobi re: his research associate position with the university (1970-1973) and also with British High Commission re: passports 1971.

5: Correspondence with researchers/students re: Pokomo research in Kenya (1970- 1979), (plus undated), ie. letters from David Miller, Chris Ehret, Dr. Winter, Richard Lee, Mr. Otuko, etc. - Also 2 incomplete letters 1971 possibly from Norman Townsend's wife, Chris Townsend, in Tana River District to associates on the outside.

6: Correspondence written in Pokomo and/or Swaheli languages (1971-1977). (Return addresses for the most part indicate the "Tana Irrigation Scheme") Note: In his research notes of the Pokomo, Norman Townsend states that "Most Pokomo men are bilingual speaking Swahili" and that "Pokomo is very close to Swahili".

Pokomo Research Material
(Notebooks, Folders 7-30, & Blue Binder)

Notebooks: 31 in total The first group of notebooks (1971-1972) numbered 1-22 (6 & 12 missing), plus 3 unnumbered notebooks, contains notes re: daily observations of the Pokomo people, language study notes and vocabulary lists, pages of text written in Pokomo and/or Swaheli, etc. There is one notebook (1971) containing daily observations of the Pokomo people which seems to have belonged to Chris Townsend, Norman Townsend's wife, although this is only deduced by reading the contents of the notes. Note: Throughout the collection of Pokomo research material there are occasional notes which seem to have been written by Chris Townsend. There are also notebooks which contain a rough chapter by chapter outline of Norman Townsend's thesis on the Pokomo.

Note: The following section (Folders 7-30 & Blue Binder) is comprised of notes on the Pokomo, some handwritten, some typewritten, and has been arranged in the original order in which the notes were received. Note: Many of the pages of notes have titles denoting the content.

7-9: Economics, ie. farming, fishing, etc.; hand-drawn maps of parts of Africa; lineage charts; vocabulary lists; disease; religion and education; etc. (Note: Folders 1-3 were originally one large folder)

10: Tana Irrigation Scheme - economics

11: Customary laws; religion; economics; agriculture

12: Lineage (results of a questionnaire presented to the Pokomo villagers re: lineage within the group); customary law; papers entitled "A Note on Pokomo Beekeeping", "Lineage and Generation in Pokomo Kinship: a Preliminary Description", & "The Pokomo Tribal Groupings"; Orma (a local people and language); religion; Balea (a local people); political history; etc.

13: Knowledge; social stratification; economic differentiation; 2 student notebooks written in Pokomo or Swaheli; etc.

14: Explanation of Mau Mau; kinship; Kenya; comments by N. Townsend on some remarks of A.L. Kroeber; Kikuyu land tenure: political aspects; the Meru; etc.

15: Maps of Kenya; crime (notes & survey results); kinship & men/women relationships; East Africa Journal of Rural Development - table of contents 1968, 1969; etc.

16: History; list of names - Tana River; clans; vocabulary lists - English with Pokomo translation; pencil drawings re: methods of fishing

17: Newspaper clippings - Tana River; Chapter 3 original - not used in thesis; Pokomo riddles; "An Outline of Tana River History" by J.S.S. Rowlands - 1955; etc.

18: Tribal groupings; aerial photos; funerals; customs; ethnographic data from Pokomos themselves, ie. primarily in the form of essays written by students re: circumcision, divorce; etc.

19: Thesis revision material; comments on thesis re: Chapter 8; xeroxed articles entitled "Tana Irrigation Scheme: Report of the Upper Tana River Irrigation Project" - 1949, "The Potential for Irrigation" - 1972, "The Tana Irrigation Scheme: An Integrated Development Project" - 1971; Pokomo decorations; land use problems on the Lower Tana River... 1974; maps of Kenya; lists of names of Christians of Hola Mission; meteorological data; Chapter 9 original - now rewritten; agriculture; etc.

20: Tana Irrigation Scheme - questionnaire presented to 460 tenants (includes responses to questionnaire)

Box 2


21: Vocabulary lists; Pokomo games, riddles, stories, proverbs; house plans - construction terms; textiles & pottery designs; rice planting; notes written in Pokomo language; etc.

22: Bobbs-Merrill Reprint entitled "Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency"; paper entitled "Adolescence and the Social Structure" by K. Davis; notebook with rough partial draft of "Biased Symbiosis on Tana River"; men/women dichotomy; etc.

23: Miscellaneous notes and notebooks; paper entitled "A Recent Journey from Lamu to Golbanki, in the Galla Country" by Rev. T. Wakefield; paper entitled "Race and Color in Islam" by B. Lewis; other papers/articles/newspaper clippings re: Pokomo/Tana Irrigation Scheme

24: "Die Wapokomo" - German paper & translation

25: Translation of Denhardt's 1878 trip to Tana River (from German)

26: Miscellaneous notes, clippings, etc. on Pokomo, East Africa, Tana River, etc.

27: Vocabulary lists & notebooks; history; 2 song notebooks; miscellaneous notebooks; paper & notes entitled "Bantu-Cushitic Relation in Northeast Kenya" by Norman Townsend; notes and charts re: Pokomo kinship patterns; etc.

28: "A Working Bibliography of Pokomo History and Society" - 1979; "A Working Bibliography of the Sources for the Orma (Galla) of Kenya" - 1979; untitled paper "For Norman 15 Jan. 1979"; List of Contents listing reel #'s - re: Tana River; German vocabulary offprint; French offprint re: Swahili marriages; paper & offprint re: Swadesh vocabulary & Bajuni, a Swahili dialect; article re: the Digo people of East Africa

29: Medicine - diagnosis; article entitled "The Politics of Diagnosis" - 1979

30: Hola School Survey: survey given to students re: amount of respect they give to people holding specific jobs/titles in the Tana River District

plus loose in box: Blue Binder containing lists of vocabulary of the Pokomo language & other African languages; also language study notes

31: Papers by N. Townsend (some with comments in margins)

32: Papers by N. Townsend (some with comments in margins)

loose in box: 6 issues of MILA: A Biannual Newsletter of Cultural Research, University of Nairobi - vol. I, no's 1 & 2, 1970; vol. II, no. 1, 1971; vol. III, no's 1 & 2, 1972; vol. IV, no. 1, 1974 Note: Vol III no's 1 & 2 have articles by Norman Townsend

Box 3

33-35: Note: Folder 35 in Box 3 Papers (Research Seminars & Discussion Papers) for: Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi No's 1-99 (Jan. 1970 - April 1973) - (not complete) No. 106 (May 1973) No. 137 (June 1972) No. 141 (Sept. 1972) No. 143 (July 1972) includes N.A. Townsend: Research Seminar No. 38 "Making Ends Meet in a Peasant Society: The Middle Pokomo" 25th April, 1972

36: Maps of Africa & other parts of the world including U.S.A., Canada, & Europe

loose in box: 2 index file boxes, 1 blue & 1 grey - N. Townsend's bibliographic index file cards; 6 notebooks of lecture notes (Cultural Anthropology/Social Anthropology)

37-40: Lecture notes & articles on Indians (lectures given at University of Western Ontario)

41: Lectures on Bushmen

42: Anthropology 221 lecture notes - Development Anthropology ie. 3rd world countries (lectures given at Trent University)

43: Lecture notes, prepared lectures, articles, etc. on Political Organization & Law

44: Lecture notes on Barth (social anthropologist) & Exchange

45-49: Miscellaneous lecture notes, articles, maps, etc. re: social anthropology lectures (lectures given at Trent University, University of Western Ontario, & possibly McMaster University) - maintained in same order received

Box 4


50: Anthropology 100 introductory lecture (lecture given at Trent University - Oshawa campus)

51: Lectures entitled "North America - Lectures 1,2,3"

52: Lectures entitled "North America - Lectures 4,5,6"

53: Lectures entitled "North America - Lectures 7,8,9"

54: Lectures entitled "North America - Lectures 10,11,12,13"

55: Course outlines with bibliographies, essay topics, exams, re: courses taught by N. Townsend at McMaster University 1974, University of Western Ontario 1975-1977, and Trent University 1977- 1979

56: Class lists Trent University 1977-1978 (also includes correspondence from students requesting permission to register in certain anthropology courses - McMaster University 1974)

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