National Anthropological Archives

Book ID 585

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ROBBINS, LOUISE MARIE (d. 1987), Papers

Louise Robbins was a physical anthropologist trained at Indiana University (M.A., 1963; Ph.D., 1968). She taught at the University of Kentucky, 1967-1971; Mississippi State University, 1971-1974, where she served as the coordinator for anthropology within the Department of Anthropology and Sociology; and at the University of North Carolina at Greenville from 1974 until her death.

The papers are limited to Robbins' work on footprints. Included are documents resulting from her basic study involving 550 American individuals and established the various measurements with which she worked. The papers consist of footprints, foot outlines, data forms, notes, and computer printouts. These provided much of the data in Footprints: Collection, Analysis, and Interpretation, Springfield, Illinois, 1985. The value of Robbins' methods in distinquishing between individuals on the basis of their footprints has been seriously called into question.

Robbins was also a student of prehistoric American populations and was interested in ancient footprints found at archeological sites. In 1978-1980, she joined Mary D. Leakey's expeditions to Laetoli, a northern Tanzanian site of early hominid remains estimated to be 3.6 million years old. The site also has many ancient footprint trails of several types of animals, including hominids and other primates, preserved in volcanic ash. It was mainly the hominid footprints that Robbins studied, the results being reported in Leakey and John M. Harris's Laetoli: Pleistocene Site in Northern Tanzania, 1987.

The second part of the papers consists of the notes, charts, and photographs pertaining to the Laetoli footprints and related correspondence and drafts of Robbins' manuscript. The notes and photographs also include material relating to the footprints of nonhominid primates and of other animals. Although the photographs mainly include the footprints, a few show general views, specimens, and members of the expeditions, including Mary D. Leakey and Louise Robbins. A few photographs concern Olduvai Gorge rather than Laetoli. The letters are mainly those of Robbins, Leakey, Harris, and Michael H. Day.

Extract ID: 3296
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