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87 4 Listening Daughters G ladys Reichard, whose research focused mainly on the Navajo, became well known for her studies of Navajo culture and religious practice, for her apprenticeship as a Navajo weaver, and for her encyclopedic overviews of Navajo sandpainting designs.1 She was born in Bangor, Pennsylvania, in 1893, the eldest daughter of a Pennsylvania Dutch Quaker family. Her father, Noah W. Reichard, was a family physician. Her mother, Minerva Ann (Jordan) Reichard, died when Gladys was young. The Reichard household was intellectually oriented, and their father and stepmother encouraged Gladys and her younger sister to pursue higher education. After she graduated from Bangor High School in 1909, Reichard taught in a country school in Northhampton County, Pennsylvania, and from 1911 to 1915 at an elementary school in Bangor. In 1915, Reichard entered Swarthmore College, and graduated in 1919 with honors as a classics major. With the Lucretia Mott Fellowship to fund her graduate study, she moved to New York City in 1919 to pursue a doctorate in anthropology at Columbia University. She had studied anthropology while at Swarthmore, and took immediately to Franz Boas when she met him at Columbia. Almost immediately, Boas took Reichard under his wing both personally and professionally. Reichard became a sort of daughter to Boas, living for some time in his house during her studies at Columbia. As Boas’s daughter Franziska recalled, “Gladys used to live with us. She 88 CHAPTER 4 had an apartment upstairs. She had three rooms up on the second floor, in New Jersey.”2 Professionally, Reichard gravitated toward Boas as a mentor, although she also studied with Ruth Benedict. However, her relationship with Benedict was strained, though cordial. Benedict, for her part, usually sent “love to Gladys” in her letters to Boas, but accompanied the endearments with somewhat snide references to Reichard’s less-than-scholarly “pep.” Benedict did not take Reichard as an entirely serious student of anthropology. In this assessment she shared her friend Edward Sapir’s opinion, who wrote to Boas that Reichard “wasn’t serious enough.”3 Benedict and Sapir thought Reichard was not serious enough in part because of her connections with Boas. The fact that she acted as a sort of daughter to Boas seemed to have aroused some jealousy. Further, Reichard was a very sunny person, especially in the 1920s, and went out of her way to plan department picnics and outings. David Aberle, who knew Reichard in the 1940s and 1950s, told Louise Lamphere in 1986: “There was a kind of naivete to Gladys’s approach, and a simplicity of interpersonal style that was, I think, sort of put down both by women and men in the Columbia department.”4 Reichard also, despite her sunny disposition, had a fiery temperament when she felt she had been wronged. She crossed swords on several occasions with Benedict, most memorably over Reichard’s appointment to the faculty of Barnard. This position was in essence a more stable, though lower-status job than Benedict’s position at Columbia, and Benedict expressed dissatisfaction that the job had not gone to her when Boas offered the position to Gladys. Boas argued that as Benedict was still married to Stanley, Reichard, who was single, needed the job more. Benedict apparently held what she perceived as usurpation against Reichard. Benedict was bitterly disappointed, and wrote in her journal on the day she learned of Reichard getting the job, “Worst sick headache I’ve had in years. . . . I suppose it’s hanging on to the idea that I can teach at Barnard.”5 When Reichard left to take a Guggenheim Fellowship in Germany from 1926 to 1927, Benedict took over her position at Barnard, but was obliged to give it up again when Reichard returned. Benedict returned to her unpaid lecturer position at Columbia, and would have been a rare person indeed if she did not harbor some resentments toward Reichard for the differences in their situations. When she finally did secure a 89 LISTENING DAUGHTERS permanent position at Columbia in 1931, Sapir wrote her that it marked “a modest and criminally belated acknowledgement of your services.”6 Sapir shared Benedict’s frustration over the delay in her securing a stable position. Thus, she expressed her dissatisfaction in a downplaying of Reichard’s intellectual abilities. Boas, however, thought Reichard was extremely bright. While she had intended to study cultural change, Boas encouraged her to focus instead on linguistics. Reichard completed her Master of Arts degree in 1920...


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