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Matila Coxe Stevenson 1849 ~ 1916


Matila Coxe Stevenson

Is a woman of whom the American woman can be proud. Her work among the Indians and her book on that subject is considered one of the most remarkable books of today written by a woman. Daughter of Alexander H. Evans and Maria Coxe Evans, and was born in St. Augustine, Texas, but her parents moved to Washington in her infancy. She is a cousin of Robley D. Evans, U.S.N., familiarly known as "Fighting Bob."

She married James Stevenson April 18, 1872, who was then an assistant to Professor Hayden, the first chief of the Geological Survey. Mrs. Stevenson accompanied her husband in his work of exploration in the Rocky Mountains, studying under him and receiving special instruction from him. She accompanied him on the first expedition which went to Zuni New Mexico, in 1879, for the Bureau of Ethnology, and assisted him in the wonderful collection of implements, ceramics, and ceremonial objects which were procured for the United National Museum.

She was placed on the staff of the Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution after the death of her husband in 1889. She returned to Zuni and made a study of the mythology, philosophy, sociology, and vocabulary of these Indians, making a special study of their ceremonies, traditions, and customs.

She explored the cave and cliff ruins of New Mexico, visiting and living for some time among each of the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. She and her husband were received into the secret organizations of these peoples. She spent from 1904 to 1910 studying the Taos and Tewa Indians, giving her special attention to their religion, symbolism, philosophy, and sociology; also to the edible plants of the Zunis, and their preparation of cotton and wool for the loom.

She was selected to be one of the jury on the Anthropological Exposition at the Chicago Exposition in 1893. Is a member of the Anthropological Society, and is the author of "Zuni and Zunians," "The Religious Life of the Zuni Child," "The Sia," "The Zuni Indians," "Esoteric Articles and Ceremonies," etc. Until recently Mrs. Stevenson made her home in Washington, but she has now established for herself a home in New Mexico, where she spends her summers and continues her research work for the government.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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