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Dr. William M. Bass III Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-3689

The Dr. William M. Bass III Papers contain personal papers and correspondence, research material and publications, and teaching and departmental material from 1839-2009, with the bulk of the material ranging 1961-1996.

Series I: Personal Papers and Correspondence, 1957-2009, undated – This series contains documents and correspondence collected by Dr. Bass over the course of several decades.

Subseries A: Personal Papers, 1960-1993, undated – This subseries includes Dr. Bass’s curriculum vitae, purchase orders for laboratory equipment, news articles, and National Science Foundation correspondence.

Subseries B: Correspondence, 1957-2009, undated – This subseries is divided into two parts: the Correspondence File and Additional Correspondence. The Correspondence File organizes Dr. Bass’s letters from his friends, family, and colleagues, as well as corporations, organizations, publications, and other individuals, in alphabetical order by last name in a personal name or first word in a corporate name. The Additional Correspondence section includes letters and cards sent to Dr. Bass that he collected separately.

Series II: Professional Papers and Publications, 1839-2009, undated – This series holds Dr. Bass’s assorted research materials, including research notebooks, notes and photographs from field research sites; journal articles and books he consulted in his academic and professional research; articles and book reviews he wrote and published; audio-visual materials related to his research; and awards and honors he received for his professional endeavors.

Subseries A: Research Materials, 1839-1993 July, undated – This subseries is divided into five sections. The Smithsonian Site Research section contains Dr. Bass’s research notebooks, work forms, sketches, reports, journal articles and other papers connected to his field research in excavation areas designated with a Smithsonian Site number. The bulk of the section includes research materials from when Dr. Bass served as a physical anthropologist for the River Basin Surveys in South Dakota (1956-1959), and when he served as the field director for expeditions in the Central and Northern Plains areas (1961-1970). The Photographs from Smithsonian Site Research section contains photographs from the excavation sites, including colleagues who participated in the research of these sites, aerial shots of the excavation sites, and specimens found in the sites. The Skeletal Site Description Cards section includes bibliographic cards that detail publications pertaining to Smithsonian Site field research areas. These cards also give information regarding the field research areas themselves, including site quality. The Research Grants section contains grant applications and correspondence concerning funding to conduct research in the Smithsonian Site excavation areas. The Smithsonian Site Beads section refers to the largest collection of blue and white glass beads in the country, recovered from Smithsonian Site 39CO9, Leavenworth Village Site, Corson County, South Dakota, in circa 1966.

Subseries B: Research Publications, 1883-2009, undated – This subseries contains three sections of research publications that Dr. Bass consulted for his scholarly work over the course of his career. The Reprints section and the Journals and Publications section contain journal articles, newsletters, and other serial publications relating to general research topics in the physical anthropology and forensic anthropology disciplines. The Reprints section includes twelve portions of numbered files, and the Journals and Publications section is organized in alphabetical order by article or publication title. The Books section includes hardcover and paperback textbooks related to physical anthropology and medicine. These books may contain inscriptions and notes.

Subseries C: Bass Publications, 1958 May-2000 July 7, undated – This subseries is divided into two sections. The Articles Written By or About Bass section includes published articles that either Dr. Bass wrote or contributed to writing, or that are written about him as a subject of discussion. These articles are organized in numerically designated files. The Papers and Correspondence Written for Publication section contains letters, rough drafts and documents related to books, articles and book reviews Dr. Bass wrote for publication.

Subseries D: Audio and Visual Materials, 2001-2006, undated – This subseries holds videos featuring Dr. Bass and his professional research, or videos related to the forensic and physical anthropology fields. The majority of the videos included in this collection include topics such as historical site excavation and crime scene investigation.

Subseries E: Awards and Honors, 1982 August 4 – This subseries contains certificates and other documents honoring Dr. Bass for his achievements in forensic and physical anthropology.

Series III: Teaching and Departmental Material, 1955-2011, undated – This series includes teaching-related papers and audio-visual materials pertaining to Dr. Bass's time as an anthropology professor at the University of Nebraska, the University of Kansas, and the University of Tennessee. It also includes documents, research papers and videos collected while he served as the director and later professor emeritus of the UT Forensic Anthropology Center.

Subseries A: Teaching Material, 1955-2000, undated – This subseries includes three sections. The Teaching Files and Additional Teaching Files sections contain files, papers, curricula vitae, and handouts related to courses Dr. Bass taught at the University of Nebraska, the University of Kansas, and the University of Tennessee. The Audio & Visual Materials section includes lecture slides and videos that either Dr. Bass presented in classes, or depict him instructing courses at the University of Tennessee or for other organizations.

Subseries B: Departmental Material, 1984 June 21-2011 March 21, undated – This series contains three sections. The UT Department of Anthropology section holds memos, brochures, newsletters, and thesis students' research papers collected while teaching at UT and during his retirement. The Forensic Anthropology Center section includes correspondence, notes, news articles, slides, brochures, maps, and legal documents related to Dr. Bass’s management and professional research at the facility he founded. The Audio and Visual Materials section contains video and photographs either sent to Dr. Bass for review, or feature Dr. Bass, his research, or the Forensic Anthropology Center in some way. This section includes images and video from the William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Building dedication ceremony, dated 2011.

Dates

  • 1839-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1961-1996

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.

Extent

43.25 Linear Feet

Abstract

The Dr. William M. Bass III Papers detail the academic and field career of forensic anthropologist and founder of the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center, Dr. William "Bill" Bass. These papers, which cover Dr. Bass's more than 60 years as a professor and researcher (most notably at the University of Tennessee (1971-present)), include personal and professional correspondence, research material and publications, and teaching and departmental material from 1839-2011, with the bulk of the material ranging 1961-1996.

Biographical/Historical Note

William Marvin Bass, III was born on August 30, 1928 in Staunton, Virginia to Marvin and Jenny Bass. After obtaining his B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia in 1951, he entered the University of Kentucky and graduated with an M.S. in anthropology in 1956. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961. His teaching and research career began as an anthropology instructor at the University of Pennsylvania (1956-1960) and at the University of Nebraska (1960). He then taught at the University of Kansas as a professor from 1961 until 1971. In 1971, Dr. Bass became professor and head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, a post he served in until 1992. He then became the director of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee. He retired in 1998 as professor emeritus.

Dr. Bass conducted a large amount of summer research in the Midwest on human skeleton excavations between 1956 and 1970. He served as the physical anthropologist for the River Basin Surveys in South Dakota in conjunction with the University of Kansas and the Smithsonian Institution through the Interagency Archeological Salvage Program from 1956 to 1959. Dr. Bass conducted laboratory and field research as an instructor for the University of Nebraska in 1960. Between 1961 and 1970, he was the field director for expeditions in the Central and Northern Plains area funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society.

Dr. Bass entered the U.S. Army after graduating with his bachelor's degree in 1951. In 1952, he was transferred to the Medical Corps for research at the Army Medical Research Laboratory in Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was honorably discharged in November 1953. He married Mary Ann Owen on August 8, 1953. Together they had three sons, Charlie, William M. Bass, IV, and Jim. Mary Ann passed away from cancer in 1993. He then married Annette C. Blackbourne in 1994. After Annette passed away from cancer in 1997, Dr. Bass married Carol H. Miles.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Bass has published over 220 papers, book reviews, and books, sometimes in conjunction with other people. In his later years, Dr. Bass began writing fiction and non-fiction novels with Jon Jefferson based on the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, nicknamed “The Body Farm” after a novel on the subject by Patricia Cornwell. At the Forensic Anthropology Center, faculty members research the decay of the human body in various environmental conditions. The university dedicated the William M. Bass Forensic Anthropology Building at this facility on September 27, 2011.

Arrangement

The collection consists of 54 boxes and is arranged in the following series:

Arrangement

  1. Series I: Personal Papers and Correspondence, 1957-2009, undated
  2. Series II: Professional Papers and Publications, 1839-2009, undated
  3. Series III: Teaching and Departmental Material, 1955-2011, undated

Acquisition Note

William M. Bass III donated this collection between 2011 and 2014.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480