12 point

Gordon D. Gibson (1915-2007) was trained at the University of Chicago (Ph.D., 1952) and joined the staff of the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology in 1958 as its curator of African ethnology. He served in that capacity until 1983. During the 1960s, he undertook a major renovation of the National Museum of Natural History’s African exhibits, which had been on display since the 1920s. He developed the Hall of African Cultures, which opened in 1969 and remained on view until 1992. He was also instrumental in establishing the National Anthropological Film Center, now the Human Studies Film Archives. During his tenure, he also served as the first chairman of the Senate of Scientists of the National Museum of Natural History (1963-1964), chairman of the museum's photographic facilities committee (1968), member of the Center for the Study of Man, and member and chairman of the Department of Anthropology collections committee and its photographs records committee (1970s-1980s). He also had special interests in the department's library and processing lab. In 1980, he was chairman of a committee which studied the feasibility of establishing a Smithsonian Institution Museum of Man. Gibson held several offices and committee memberships with the Anthropological Society of Washington during the during the 1960s and 1970s and served as film review editor of the American Anthropologist. Gibson conducted fieldwork among the Herero and Himba in Botswana (1953 & 1960-61), Namibia (1960-61, 1971-73), and Angola (1971-73). Articles produced from his field research include “Bridewealth and Other Forms of Exchange Among the Herero,” “Double Descent and Its Correlates among the Herero of Ngamiland,” “Herero Marriage,” and “Himba Epochs.” While in the field, he also filmed footage of the Herero, Himba, Zimba, and Kuvale. His edited films include Herero of Ngamiland (1953), Himba Wedding (1969), and The Himba (1972). In addition to the Herero and Himba, he also conducted research on the Okavango and Ovambo people. He edited and translated Carlos Estermann’s Ethnography of Southwestern Angola (published in 3 volumes in 1976-81) and edited and contributed to The Kavango Peoples (1981). Gibson’s research interests also included Central African headgear, coauthoring “High Status Caps of the Kongo and Mbundu” (1977) with Cecilia R. McGurk.