Charles Walter Wagley191391, American anthropologist, b. Clarksville, Tex., grad. Columbia (Ph.D., 1941). He began teaching at Columbia in 1940, serving as professor from 1953 to 1971. He was appointed director of the Latin American Institute in 1961. Wagley carried out field research in Brazil and Guatemala and served on various inter-American economic and cultural missions. His books include The Tenetehara Indians of Brazil (1949; with Eduardo Galvão), Social and Religious Life of a Guatemalan Village (1949), The Latin American Tradition (1968), and Welcome of Tears: The Tapirapè Indians of Central Brazil (1977).
Charles Walter Wagley was born in Clarksville, Texas on November 9, 1913. He was married for fifty years to Cecilia Wagley before his death. They are survived today by their daughter Isabel Kottak and two grandchildren, Juliet Kottak Mavromatis and Nicholas Kottak. Wagley's work in anthropology began in 1934 when he transferred and later received his doctorate from Columbia University. While at Columbia he studied under Professor Franz Boas and also achieved his BA in 1936 and his Ph.D. in 1941. After Charles received both his degrees and worked in Brazil, he taught anthropology at Columbia from 1946 to 1971. From 1965 through 1971, Wagley became the first Franz Boas teacher of anthropology. During this time, he also served as the Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies. Charles also spent time at the University of Florida where he became involved with the Guggenheim Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. While at the University of Florida, Charles Wagley was named the 1982-83 UF Teacher/Scholar of the Year.
Charles Wagley made numerous contributions to the field of anthropology. He did field work as a social anthropologist in 1937 with the Mayan culture in Guatemala which became his earliest known documented work. Wagley was also one of the first Americans to work in the South American lowlands in Brazil. His studies in Brazil later aided to the many accomplishments he completed and many of his acclaimed works are best noted here. From his work in Brazil, Charles published papers on his studies of the Tapirape Indians (1940, 1943) and the Tenetehara Indians (1949). Wagley's research also included him to spend months at a time living with the Tapirape culture. The data and research Wagley collected from the Tapirape and Tenetehara led him to publish two very important books which included, Welcome of Tears: The Tapirape Indians of Central Brazil in 1977 and The Tenetehara Indians of Brazil in 1949. Charles also published two other books entitled Amazon Town: A Study of Man in the Tropics, including information from his work with the Ita community and The Latin American Tradition, which encompasses both traditional and modern Latin America.
Wagley continued much of his work during World War II. During the war, he supervised publications of pamphlets and slide programs about public health. These publications were funded by the United States government and the Brazilian public health agency. After the war, Charles went back to Columbia University and began his teaching. Soon after going back he taught his first doctorate student, Eduardo Galvao, who worked with him on the Tenetehara Indians. Together, the two along with their wives traveled to Gurupa to conduct research which resulted in Wagley's book Amazon Town and Galvao's book, The Religion of an Amazon Community.
In 1970, Charles Wagley received the presidency of the American Anthropological Association. The Charles Wagley Research Fellowship Fund was created in 1992 in honor of Charles Wagley's successful career. This fund, which is sponsored by the University of Florida, continues the work of Wagley's work in Brazil. Charles is most noted for his decades of work in Brazil, where he was named to the National Order of Southern Cross and also for the Medal of War which was appointed to him by the Brazilian government. After struggling with lung cancer and emphysema, Charles Wagley died on November 25, 1991 in Gainesville, Florida.
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Par Jean-Marie Tremblay, sociologue
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