In 2010 for American Archives Month celebration, I wrote a blog post on the pioneering linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner and the Anacostia Community Museum efforts to preserve and digitize his field recordings created between 1930s and 1950s. Since that post, the museum has successfully recovered and preserved folktales, songs, and interviews Turner collected in West Africa and Brazil. The museum also presented a groundbreaking exhibition on Dr. Turner titled, Word, Shout, Song: Lorenzo Dow Turner Connecting Communities through Language in 2011. The exhibit looks at the life, research and scholarship of Professor Turner and is based almost entirely on his archival papers and objects in the museum collection.
A section of the exhibition focuses on Turner’s research on African survivals in Afro-Brazilian culture, especially within the Candomblé religion. The show along with a museum symposium on Turner helped Brazilian scholars unfamiliar with Turner to discover and connect to his work in their country during the 1940s. As a result, “Word, Shout, Song. . .” exhibition is scheduled to travel in Brazil starting in July 2015.
This will allow the Candomblé communities to connect with the research and documentation conducted by Turner. As an archivist, it gives me professional pleasure to see the materials one has arranged, described, and cataloged as a source for reconnecting a community to their heritage. In addition, we plan to ingest some of Dr. Turner’s research and appointment books in the Smithsonian Transcription Center for the benefit of scholars, researchers, and the communities he researched.
In the meanwhile, here are some images from Turner’s research in Brazil:
|Woman dressed as Iyansã goddess of the wind and storms and the wife of Sangõ, the god of thunder, in the Candomble pantheon. Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Lois Turner Williams.|
|Afro-Brazilian holding a Berimbau, an Angolan musical instrument.Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Lois Turner Williams.|
|Mãe Meninha do Gantois and her followers.Lorenzo Dow Turner papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Lois Turner Williams.|