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Luther P. Gerlach papers

Identifier: ua88

Scope and Content

The Luther P. Gerlach collection consists of newspaper clippings related to specific subject matters, including civil, economical and socio-cultural events, between 1966 to 1991, which provided background for Gerlach within his research. It also contains film and audio clippings related to the documentaries Gerlach produced between 1968 to 1979 related to social and political movements happening regionally, nationally, and internationally.


  • 1961-1991


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Note

Luther Paul Gerlach was born on October 25, 1930 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952 from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in 1961 from the University of London, where he gained the certificate in African and Islamic Law at the School of African and Oriental Studies in 1958. (1) While obtaining his doctorate degree he also earned a Fulbright Fellowship where he traveled to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to research the Digo and Duruma communities and their social and economic habits.(1)

In 1961, Gerlach became an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. After 2 years, Gerlach joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor in June of 1963 and soon after, became an Associate Professor in September of 1965. (1) By 1971, Gerlach was promoted to Professor and took two separate leaves for professional development and research. First was his time at the California Institute of Technology between September 1971 to June 1972, where he was a Visiting Associate in Anthropology and Environmental Studies and performed research in the Environmental Quality Laboratory. (1) The second leave was at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, where he served as a Senior Consultant from June 1972 to June 1973. After the conclusion of that leave, he continued teaching at the University of Minnesota and later became Professor Emeritus of Anthropology.

Gerlach has written numerous articles and books on social and economical anthropology, including “People, Power, Change: Movements of Social Transformation” in 1970 with co-author, Virginia H. Hine and “Lifeway Leap: The Dynamics of Change in America,” written with Hine in 1973, of which was later adapted into a ten program series on KTCA-TV. (1) Similar to his program adaptations, Gerlach also produced a number of film documentaries and series on his research. Included in this is “People, Power, Change: A Study of Movements of Revolutionary Change” in May of 1968, “People Eco Action” in May of 1970, “Jamaica: Why Don’t You Stop and Say Hello?” produced with Paul Eide in 1973 and “Grassroots- Energy” produced with Paul Eide in 1978, amongst others. (1)

To this day, Gerlach’s specialities in the fields of economic anthropology, cultural change and anthropology of social movements live on in current coursework and through the use of his research and work in the classroom.


(1) Biographical File, Gerlach, Luther P., Information files collection, University Archives.


88 Cubic Feet (22 record boxes, 1 legal hollinger box and 106 films )

Language of Materials



Collection contains the subject files of Luther P. Gerlach, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series 1: Subject files, 1966-1991
  • Series 2: Films, 1969-1978

Processing Information

Processing completed with funds from the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society (2021-2022).

Luther P. Gerlach Papers, 1961-1991
Karen Spilman; Amanda Holscher; Zoltan Lohse; Katelyn Morken
March 2005; August-September 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • August-September 2021: Contents list added, notes updated

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area