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Joseph and Tamara Obrebski Papers: The Jamaican Series

The Obreski Papers are primary ethnographic data gathered from informants, while Joseph Obrebski was employed as a research sociologist for the West Indian Social Survey from March 1947 to August 1948. The West Indian Social Survey (WISS) conducted, was directed by Edith Clarke, and advised by faculty from the London School of Economics and Colonial Office. The survey aimed to collect and analyze statistics on family structure and domestic economics in order to better understand the problems of rural Jamaica.

Interviews were conducted with informants from two rural Jamaican communities. A wealth of ethnographic material was produced. While a research report was not prepared, two monographs have been published from the data by members of the Survey team, in the 1950’s. These works are; My Mother who Fathered Me by Edith Clarke and Personality and Conflict in Jamaica by Madeline Kerr.

The Obreski Papers facilitates access to primary source documents gathered in the 1930’s-1940 before many profound national and local changes had occurred Jamaica. The documents are duplications received as a gift from the Research Institute for the Study of Man, USA in 1996. There are 7 linear feet of data, incomplete manuscripts, relevant publications, photographs and WISS correspondence all of which are stored on 25 microfilm reels.

There is a Finder’s Guide, compiled by Robert Ciski. A letter written by Richard Hoeckh and addressed to Professor Comitas, describes in detail what is contained in each of the 20 boxes of material comprising the Jamaica Series of the Obreski Papers is also included.

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