The anthropologist Joel Martin Halpern (1929- ) has worked in
regions from the North American arctic (Canada and Alaska) to tropical Laos in Southeast
Asia, but he has concentrated on Southeast Europe, primarily, the former Yugoslavia. He is perhaps best
known for his studies of social modernization in the Balkans.
Following undergraduate study in history and anthropology at the University of Michigan (BA, 1950), Halpern 4. pursued his doctoral studies at Columbia University in the anthropology department and the Russian Institute, which became part of the Harriman Institute in 1982. He received his doctorate in 1956 for a study of the village of Orašac in Serbia in the former Yugoslavia. The resulting work became the basis of his Ainsley award winning book, A Serbian Village (Columbia University Press, N.Y., 1958). He began his career with the Human Relations Area Files office at the American University in Washington, D.C. working on a Laos handbook. Subsequently, he went to that country as a Field Service Officer with the Community Development Division of the U.S. International Cooperation Administration, a predecessor of the Agency for International Development. He later served as chair of the Mekong Seminar of the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group of the Asia Society which advised the U.S. Aid program.
From 1958 to 1963, Halpern was an assistant professor in the anthropology department at UCLA. From 1963 to 1965 he was an associate professor in the anthropology department at Brandeis University. From 1965 to 1967 he was an associate at the Russian Research Center at Harvard. In 1967 he was appointed as an associate professor at Umass Amherst. In 1968 he became a full professor.
Halpern has also had a career long interest in photography. Copies of his photographs are in the collections of the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, Harvard University and various European universities. Over 4,000 of his photographs are found at UMass (see Related Items).
Since retiring from UMass in 1992, Halpern continues to live in Amherst. He has also been a multi-year visiting professor in the Southeast European Studies Center at the University of Graz in Austria, and he has lectured at the Universities of Lubiana, Belgrade, Skoje in Macedonia, and in western Europe at the University of Bradford, UK.
A comprehensive collection documenting the long and varied career of an anthropologist, the Halpern Papers include a wide range of textual and visual materials documenting cultural changes, modernization, urbanization, ethnicity, and rural life.
The bulk of the collection is open for research; select portions are restricted during Joel and Barbara's lifetime. These include portions of files relating to: the work of the Halperns, Halpern's work at UMass, grant files, subject interviews, and correspondence, all for reasons of privacy. See inventory for details.
Background on Joel Martin Halpern
The sociocultural anthropologist Joel Martin Halpern conducted research in regions ranging from the Alaskan arctic to Laos and Lapland, but he is best known for his studies of the effects of modernization in the Balkans. Born in New York City on April 8, 1929, the son of Carl and Nettie, Halpern majored in History as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. Before his graduation in 1950, he published a series of papers on geology and resource utilization based on his summers spent in the Alaskan arctic and northern Canada. Together with his then wife, the linguist and medical anthropologist Dr. Barbara Kerewsky-Halpern (she later earned her Ph. D. in anthropology and lingusitics as UMass, Amherst [see Related Items]), Halpern left New York in June 1953 to begin fieldwork, embarking on what would become more than six decades of research in the former Yugoslavia.
For his doctoral work, Halpern undertook a community study of Orašac, a village in the Sumadija district of central Serbia that in 1804 had been the site of the first Serbian uprising against Turkish rule. Like many Serbian villages during the Communist period, Orašac was beginning to experience the shift from an agricultural base of production to industrial employment. Halpern's dissertation, Social and cultural change in a Serbian village (1956) became the basis for his first book, A Serbian Village (N.Y.: Columbia Univ., 1958. revised edition, Harper and Row, 1967). Together, the Halperns published a book, A Serbian Village in Historical Perspective (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972. revised edition Waveland Press, 1986)
After completing his degree, Halpern accepted a position as Foreign Service Officer (Foreign Service Reserve) with the Community Development Division of the U.S. International Cooperation Administration (USOM) in the royal capitol of Luang Payong, Laos. From January 1957 until January 1958, he became one of the first American anthropologists to work in former French Indo-China, among other topics. He returned to Laos in 1959 with support of the Rand Corporation, focusing on the study of the Lao elites. In 1969, with the support of the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group of the Asia Society he focused on the U.N. supported Mekong Development Project. His work resulted in the publication of several volumes in Yale University's Southeast Asia series including: Government, politics, and social structure in Laos: a study of tradition and innovation (New Haven: Yale Univ., 1964), and Economy and society of Laos (New Haven: Yale Univ., 1964). His work for the Rand Corporation in 1959 resulted in The Lao elite: a study of tradition and innovation (Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corp., 1964). Halpern's first published volume on Laos was Aspects of village life and culture change in Laos (N.Y.: Council on Economic and Cultural Affairs, 1958). His 22 volumes of Laos Project Papers remain available more than 40 years after they were first issued in the 1960s. His book, The changing village community (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1967) drew upon his broad experience in cultural change in village societies.
Following appointments at UCLA (1958-1963) and Brandeis (1963-1965), and as a fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard (1965-1967), Halpern joined the faculty at UMass Amherst in 1967, earning promotion to full professor two years later. Halpern continued research in both Yugoslavia and Laos for many years. He served as a member of the Mekong Seminar of the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group (SEADAG) of the Asia Society between 1966 and 1970, studying the impact of dams on the Mekong River. He has held visiting professorships at several universities in Europe including the Arnold Bergstrasser Institute of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat, Freiburg, Germany (1970-1971). Subsequently he studied southeast Asian immigrant populations in New England. Halpern co-authored a book with his colleague Lucy Nguyen, then Director of the United Asia Learning Research Center at UMass, called Far East Comes Near (University of Massachusetts Press). The book drew on their joint experience of teaching students of Southeast Asian origin at UMass. Halpern's interest in the history of anthropology was manifest in a special interest in the Polish ethnographer, Josef Obrebski. Halpern negotiated the placement of his papers at the UMass Archives, which have occasioned many visits by visiting Polish scholars researching these materials. The papers have been used as a basis not only for the Halperns' book The changing peasantry of Eastern Europe (Schenkman Publishing, 1976), but also for publications about Obrebski that have appeared in Polish. Halpern retired in 1992 and resides in Amherst.
Much of Halpern's research centered on the former Yugoslavia including specific work in the now independent countries of Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia. Besides the Eskimo, including the Inuit of Canada, and the Hmong of Laos, he has worked with a variety of ethnic groups in the United States including Jewish communities in Western Massachusetts, Southeast Asians and South Slavs in North America. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of State Counterpoint Funds program. His books, monographs and articles have been published abroad in Croatian, French, German, Japanese, Lao, Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Spanish. His research has reflected active collaboration with Austrian, German, Inuit, Japanese, Lao-Swedish, Serbian and Slovenian scholars. Halpern was given funds to purchase a major south slavic book collection for UCLA which was susequently made into a 109 reel microfilm collection that has been made available to other libraries. Halpern donated part of this microfilm collection to the Umass library.
Halpern's photographic interests are reflected in three major exhibitions at UMass, involving the other colleges within the five college system. Each exhibit was represented by a published catalog, on Laos, Bosnia and Obrebski. He also organized a major showing of Inuit art and film at UMass with the assistance of the Canadian government. A published catalog for this exhibit was printed from donated funds.
The Halpern Papers constitutes a record of more than six decades of ethnographic and social anthropological research. At nearly 300 linear feet, the collection is the largest of several collections accumulated or created by Joel Martin Halpern and his wife Dr. Barbara Kerewsky-Halpern, documenting nearly every phase of their careers beginning in the early 1950s, but with a particular emphasis upon their research in the Balkans. Halpern's interests in the dynamics and change in village life in the Balkans is well represented, and the collection is all the more valuable for the documentation it provides that spans the early years of Communist governance through the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the bitter wars of the 1990s.
In addition to professional correspondence and field notes, the collection includes a wide array of social data and data analyses, materials relating to Halpern's departmental duties at UMass Amherst, and an extensive collection of monographs and photographic books relating to the Balkans, South East Asia, Judaica and other areas of interest to Halpern.
Contains select personal and professional material of Joel Martin Halpern, including: early life, curricula vitae, research for Carl M. Halpern's memoir, student papers, circulars, press clippings, and correspondence.
Contains personal and professional correspondence spanning Halpern's career and retirement. Also contains individual and joint publications of Joel Martin Halpern and Barbara Kerewsky-Halpern, including dissertations, monographs, journal articles, and book drafts .
A. PUBLICATIONS: USA, 1950-1988
Publications related to Joel Martin Halpern's anthropological work in the United States.
B. PUBLICATIONS: SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE, 1951-2001
Primarily features publications related to Joel Halpern's work in the former Yugoslavia.
C. PUBLICATIONS: LAOS AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, 1957-1989
Publications related to Joel Martin Halpern's work in South East Asia.
D. CORRESPONDENCE, 1944-2004
Features general correspondence from throughout Halpern's professional career as well as email correspondence collected during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.
Restricted during Halpern's lifetime
Consists of material related to Joel Martin Halpern's funding of his ethnographic work in the Balkans, the Arctic, Southeast Asia and the United States. The series contains applications and supplementary material submitted to several federal and private granting agencies.
Contains material related to Joel Martin Halpern's teaching and faculty duties while a professor in the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst. The series includes correspondence, course materials, University Press Committee material, student work study files, grant reviews, university administrative material, and course descriptions.
This series includes original material from Joel Martin Halpern's fieldwork and research interests, primarily in villages of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia). It includes research notes, raw data (population, agricultural, census, housing, genealogy, school, historical), field notes, questionnaires, subject interviews, and Halpern's subject cards. Material is in both English and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Latin. This series also contains material from Halpern's work in Southeast Asia and the Arctic.
A. YUGOSLAVIA: BOSNIA: BREZA/ ŹUPČA/ SARAJEVO/ Ulisnjak / LIJESMCA, 1960-1987 and 1996
Features material collected during Halpern's work in Bosnian communities.
B. YUGOSLAVIA: CROATIA: LEKENIK/ BOBOVAC/ MAJKOVI/ SLANO/ ZAGREB/ DUBROVNIK, 1948-1996
Features material collected during Halpern's work Croatian communities.
C. YUGOSLAVIA: MACEDONIA: LABUNIŠTE/ Velešta/ KONČAREVO/ BELCISTA 1948-1996
Features material collected during Halpern's work in Macedonian communities.
D. YUGOSLAVIA: MONTENEGRO: BUKOVIČA/ BOGETIĆI/ BUNIBROD/ ORAHOVO/ SEKULAR, 1960-1964
Features material collected during Halpern's work in communities in Montenegro and Serbia.
E. YUGOSLAVIA: SERBIA: ARANĐJELOVAC/ ORAŠAC/ INDJIJA/ Koplari/ KONČAREVO, 1919-1978
Features material collected during Halpern's work in Serbian communities.
F. YUGOSLAVIA: SLOVENIA: ŽUŽEMBERK/ ŠENČUR/ VOLČA/ KRANJ, 1960-1986
Features material collected during Halpern's work in Slovenian communities.
G. SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE: BULGARIA: SOFIA/ BISTRICA, 1897-1990
Features material collected during Halpern's work in Bulgarian communities.
H. SOUTH EAST ASIA: LAOS, CAMBODIA, VIETNAM, 1957-1970
Contains field notes and reports from Halpern's work in Louangphrabang, Vientiane and the Community Development Division of the International Cooperation Administration.
I. ARCTIC/NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, 1949-1999
Contains material related to Halpern's work with the Inuit people of the Arctic.
Features material from Joel Martin Halpern's personal library. The bulk of the material centers on topics within the Balkans, Arctic, and South East Asia, (tourist books, picture books, histories, literature, government monographs, articles, journals, papers, magazines, bibliographies). Topics within Anthropology and Judaica are represented. Photography and art books also are a major part of the collection.
Postcards and ephemera collected during trips taken by Joel Martin Halpern and Barbara Kerewsky-Halpern. The bulk of the collection dates before the Bosnian War.
Wide-carriage computer printouts, mostly of census data from Serbia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.
[contains photocopies and originals]
This work has multiple authors and essays all about different ethnic groups. Essay by JMH looks at the Jewish communities in five Western Massachusetts towns: Cherrytown, Greenmeadow, Northwind, Hollyville and Springtown. File also includes an additional essay: Ayabe, Tsuneo. Ethnicity and Cultural Pluralism in the USA: A Report of the Field Research in the USA. Fukuoka, Japan: The Research Institute of Comparative Education and Culture, Faculty of Education, Kyushu University (1979).
Ethnicity and its Identity in the USA: A report of the Field Research in the USA (1979) ed. Tsuneo Ayabe, Kiyotaka, Aoyagi, ed. Al.:Institute of History and Anthropology, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan, March 1981. Publication contains the Essay on The Meaning of Ethnicity in American society: A Perspective from 2 Case studies of Jewish Community by Joel Martin Halpern, Barbara Halpern and Ronnie Sardinas (published in Japan).
Bibliography of Judaic Cultures, Council of Planning Librarians: Exchange Bibliography Feb. 1975 (#749-750). A list of books related to anthropological interests.
Halpern, Joel Martin "The Meaning of Ethnicity in American Society: A Perspective from 2 Case Studies." With notes and rough drafts for the essay and final draft as well as an individual copy of one of the case studies (published in Japan).
Essay about two case studies of two different people, Dr. Meyer Krieger and Leah the Seamstress, and how they are maintaining identity of being Jewish in America, and questions American ideology and he meaning of the "melting pot".
Funded by NSF.
Funded by NSF.
Restricted during Halpern's lifetime
Restricted during Halpern's lifetime
moved to Series 8
contains 4 restricted files restricted during Halpern's lifetime
combined into box 71
combined into box 71
Chart in cardboard tube
Material restricted during Halpern's lifetime
Pictures of all aspects of Jerusalem, praying, the people and the important Jewish historical sites of the city.
Photo documentary of Jews in Lithuania, Rumania and Russia taken over of sixty years, mostly between 1860 and 1920, different scenes of daily life in eight sections
Photo documentary of Jerusalem, looking at the masonry of the city, concentrates on the older parts of the city, developed during the 18th centrury.
Collection of essays by Michel, Riquet, Roger Mehl and Andre Neher, poems, quotes from Quran and the Bible. All talking about themes of the city's destruction, rebirth and eternal spiritual life. Forward by Eli Wiesel.
Depicts a three month tour of Jerusalem in 1976, includes pictures of landscapes and people.
Group of writers looking at different aspects of Jewish Hertiage in Morocco through the centuries. They discuss the interrelationships between the Jews and Muslims and how both cultures are intergrated.
The winter of 1984-1985, a photography documentary of 28 Jewish communities; showing the everyday lives of Jews and questions the lives of the Jewish people and the what has happened to them over the centuries
Pictures from the Sept. 21 thru Nov. 6, 1966 exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York. Including the chronology of Jewish immigration, pictures of their lifestyles and descriptions of the subculture of the Jewish community of New York City.
Helping to preserve the history of the wooden synagogues in Poland, their importance to the Eastern Europeans Jews and to remember the structures that had fallen from the Nazis.
A brief introduction to the Holocaust and different ghettos around Europe. Different places in ghettos are photographed and separated into different sections of the book. Pictures were take in 1941.
Using Mosesas a way to describe the Hebrew people's struggle and coming to Israel. Photography by David Harris, Design Consultant Gad Ulman, and Forward by Yadin Yigael
A book accompanying the museum exhibit, Israel in Antiquity, describing different artifacts that were found at the archeological digs.
Photographs and tape recording transcripts from 50 immigrants all about their stories of how they came to America and their struggles in being Jewish and fitting in American culture in the 1950's. Photographs by Rochelle Casserd
Descriptions of important symbols in the windows found in Jerusalem; different scenes from the Torah and samples of different pieces from the museum's exhibit.Texts and Notes by Jean Leymarie
Exhibit recounts the history of Beta Israel,the African Jews. Jewish community who have been totally separated from the rest of Jewry.This exhibit focus on culture, history and religious life.
A 1974-1976 study of a village where there were only 200 villagers left. Photographs of the villagers in their daily life, worshipping.
Catalogue accompanying the visitor throughout the camp and the museum. Shows pictures of prisoners, documents, and flyers, all with descriptions of what they mean and what importance they when the camp was open.
About, with descriptions and pictures, what was left behind from the war. Shows the different monuments that the people created for those who had lived there. Photographs by Jan Lukas
Describing the most important historical sites in Israel, and the artifacts that they found from different digs that had occurred throughout the decades.Foreward by Yigael Yadin, Prof. of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Details the life of Polish and Hungarian Jewish communities living in Brooklyn, New York, in a section called Williamsburg. Shows their traditions and how they live in a sub-type culture in New York.
Goes though the different areas of Bohemia and Moravia and catalogues the Jewish cemeteries, from the oldest tombstones, different types of tombstones that are in the cemeteries with pictures of those gravestones.
A pictorial record from 1938, records from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains, there are 31 pictures of daily life, the last picture record of these people. Introduction essay by Abraham Joshua Heschel, Inside book an cutout of an Book Digest newspaper article reviewing the book by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Both text and pictures of the daily life of the Jewish communities in Brooklyn, New York, the book looks at their traditions and customs in the 1970's In association with the exhibit from the Brooklyn /Museum, Sept. 24-Nov.28,1976 208 pictures
Gift of Joel Martin Halpern.
Processed by Joyce Clifford, 2006, Jeremy Smith, 2010 and Rolande M. Duprey, 2013.
Related collections in the Special Collections & University Archives at UMass Amherst:
A complete list of publications can be found within the Joel Martin Halpern curriculum vitae located on the Scholarworks website at UMass Amherst:
Although the bulk of Halpern's papers are housed at UMass Amherst, portions of his papers are held at the following institutions:
Cite as: Joel Martin Halpern Papers (FS 001). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.