Vincenzo Petrullo Personal papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives [Contact Us]3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104-6324
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Vincenzo M. Petrullo was born in Italy in 1906, entered the United States in 1913, and eventually became a citizen in 1930. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a B.A. in chemistry (1927) and Ph.D. in anthropology (1934). His dissertation “Delaware Peyotism” (1934) was later published as the monograph “The Diabolic Root, a Study of Peyotism, the New Religion Among the Delawares” (University of Pennsylvania Press,1934.)
After getting his undergraduate degree, Petrullo was hired first as an assistant and then as instructor (1928-33) and was Research Associate at the Museum from 1930-33. He represented the Museum as the anthropologist for the Matto Grosso Expedition from late 1930 until 1931. In 1933 Petrullo returned to South America, his purpose to establish a Latin American Research Institute in Venezuela, with support from that government and the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Part of this proposal was to establish a Venezuelan national museum, with Petrullo in charge of field work. among the Yaruro Indians. “The Yaruros of the Capanaparo, Venezuela” was published by the Smithsonian Institution (1937. Petrullo visited South America once again in 1935 in a joint Columbia University-University of Pennsylvania Museum expedition. For his work in South America during this period see
In 1937-1939, Petrullo worked for the WPA as an archaeological consultant. He spent 1940 in Mexico studying the socio-economic aspects of the Mexican Revolution and returned to America to warn the U.S. government of secret organizations being set up by Nazi Germany. Petrullo worked for the OSS from 1941 to 1944 as an intelligence analyst, assigned first to Latin America and later Italy. After the war he worked for a year on a research project for the Governor of Puerto Rico and was a visiting scholar at Columbia University. Subsequently he became a Wenner Gren Foundation fellow (1947–1950) and studied the effects of the war on Sicily.
From 1950 until 1953 Petrullo was Professor of International Affairs and Director of Area Studies at Colgate University; in 1954 he was a visiting professor at the University of Alabama and Director of Archaeological Projects at the University of Georgia, at which time he directed the archaeological excavation of Rock Eagle Mound in George. From 1955 until his retirement, Petrullo was a consultant to several business organizations, in the field of applied anthropology, focusing on communications and human relations.
Vincenzo Petrullo was named Honorary Curator of the American Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum in 1990; he died February 23, 1991 in Philadelphia.
The textual records of Vincenzo Petrullo personal papers consist of 3 linear feet of correspondence, field notes, manuscripts, reports, employee interviews, and the material has been divided into the following series: Correspondence, Personal, Employment and Professional Activities, Latin America, Puerto Rico, Sicily, Rock Eagle Mound, Georgia, Delaware/Lenape Indians, Business Consulting, Written Works, and Photographs.
The textual records, along with visual materials (photographs and films), are an amalgam of a 1991 bequest of the personal papers of Petrullo and Museum Archives records previously arranged within the American Section Record Group, South America Expeditions sub-group. These Museum records were minimal (.25 feet) and were listed only by the series name of Vincenzo Petrullo. The bequest consisted of twelve boxes of textual documents, photographs, and films. They covered Petrullo’s Museum career and his later archaeological work with the WPA, his work for the U.S. government, his tenure at Colgate University and final work for several companies as a consultant in human resources management. The textual documents representing the work of Petrullo for the Museum were extracted from the personal papers. Film and photographs from the personal collection will be added to the Photographic Archives at the Museum.
Correspondence was divided into three separate categories: professional, personal and family. Correspondence from Petrullo’s tenure at the Museum has been placed in
Field Notes consist of diaries, miscellaneous notes, and reports. They are arranged by expedition. Financial Records consist of personal account statements, bank statements, and a few receipts.
Personal consist of various personal documents and Vitae.
Employment and Professional Activities covers his employment in the United States Government (which includes the WPA) and Colgate University. In addition, work with the Inter-American Institute, Columbia University and the University of Syracuse is included.
Delaware/Lenape Indians is primarily concerned with his published dissertation :”The Diabolic Root” (correspondence reviews and drawings, etc.), and an unpublished paper on the Delaware Doll Dance.
Latin America: Although the evidence suggests that Petrullo intended to complete a manuscript on a survey of Latin America, it never was completed. What is contained in this series are largely notes and relatively brief writings on a series of topics, along with a few extended completed chapters.
Puerto Rico is a very brief series involving interviews with officials and academics as well as an extended manuscript on a visit to a coffee growing area.
Sicily: As was the case of Latin America an intended monograph was not completed. Instead, in addition to a few completed chapters, the vast bulk of materials consist of notes, and brief writings on a wide range of topics
Rock Eagle Mound: Correspondence, reports, and materials for an exhibition of the excavation.
Business Consulting: Employed as a consultant for human relations by several companies, most of the material involves employee interviews, role playing activities, training, and communication studies, in addition to correspondence and pay invoices.
Written Works involve professional papers, book reviews and some creative writing (poems, short stories).
Photographs: A mall collection of prints from the Rock Eagle project (excavations and artifacts, the Delaware Indians, Latin America and a visit to a WPA lab by Eleanor Roosevelt.
- University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Lawrence Rosen
- Finding Aid Date