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Lisa Redfield Peattie papers

Identifier: MC-0723

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Lisa Peattie papers document the professional activities of Lisa Peattie, Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), her contribution to the Ciudad Guayana project sponsored by the government of Venezuela, as well as her social activism and ranges in date from 1949 to 2003. Records include correspondence, memoranda, meeting notes, reports, newspaper clippings, newsletters, pamphlets, conference proceedings, symposium information, curricula, course materials, maps, photographs, floppy disks and CDs. The floppy disks have been migrated to digital storage and entries have been created for each alonside the other material in box 1 and 11. Peattie’s biographical files include papers, manuscripts of her books Playing the Blue Guitar and The View from the Barrio, interviews, photographs, group outings, birth certificate, trips, directions to the Peattie farm in Vermont, and a court statement after her arrest for trespassing on a nuclear site in Nevada. Found in boxes 4, 7, 9, 11.

Publications by Peattie include writings on Aboriginal rights, slums and housing, homelessness, feminism, the concepts of marginality and the informal sector, economic conversion, as well as numerous reviews of other works. Her focus on the members of communities, especially underrepresented groups led to the creation of the concept of advocacy planning which sought to address the issues and needs of those often left out by planning processes. Her writings concern Latin America, China, Australia, Wales, India and the United States. Found in boxes 1-3.

Records related to Ciudad Guayana include correspondence, reports, memoranda, interviews, meeting minutes, prints, negatives, transparencies, articles, and a diary. It also includes records on Roderick Peattie’s memorial and library planned in his memory. Boxes 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11.

Records concerning Peattie’s strong involvement with social justice issues include writings, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets on homelessness, post-Cold War military budget, economic conversion, rights of minorities, the War Relocation Authority, and the involvement of religion in social justice, including, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic faiths. Found in boxes 3-11.

Correspondence discusses the Guayana project, activism, and the publications of her books. Peattie corresponded with many professionals including Lloyd Rodwin, Guan-bao Shen, Xiaotong Fei, Sol Tax, and Wilhelm von Moltke. Found in boxes 2, 3, 5-10.

Also found are curricula, course materials, lecture notes, student information and student papers, reading lists, and exam questions for courses Peattie taught and co-taught with Martin Rein and Ralph Gakenheimer including Social Aspects of Development, Implementation of Metropolitan Planning in Developing Countries, as well as courses on slums, housing, social policy, and educational policies. Found in boxes 2-6.


  • 1949 - 2003


Access note

Materials in this collection are open unless they are marked as restricted. Restrictions are noted in the container list.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


Lisa Peattie (1924–2018) was a professor emerita of Urban Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1968. At MIT, she was project anthropologist for the Ciudad Guayana project under the auspices of the Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies, 1962-1967; she was a lecturer of anthropology, 1967-1969; associate professor, 1969-1971; professor, 1971-1985. She was the first female tenured faculty in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). Her work focused on understanding urban society and the social aspects of urbanization and development.

As part of the Joint Center’s efforts in Ciudad Guayana, Peattie lived in one of the city’s barrios instead of commuting from Caracas as most of the team had done. Thus, she was able to interact with the people she wanted to interview and experience the lives she wanted to document. Her work in Guayana resulted in the publication of the View from the Barrio in 1968. Peattie also reflected on Ciudad Guayana in 1987 when she published Planning: Rethinking Ciudad Guayana.

Peattie’s work focused on advocacy planning which sought social change and focused on including all social groups in the planning process, specifically low-income communities. After her retirement from MIT in 1985 she became more active in the peace movement and participated in protests across the country advocating for economic divestment from the military and investing in non-military industries. She also supported the right of free determination of people, work which brought her to Wales and Australia.


11 Cubic Feet (11 record cartons)

36.056 Megabytes ((759 digital files; including 32 disk images) )

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The digital files in this collection are largely plain text or various versions of WordPerfect files that have been extracted from floppy disk images. These can still be opened with word processing applications such as Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer. There are also disk images of most floppy disks that were transferred, which you can mount on your local filesystem as an external drive to view the contents within.


Phhysical materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Related Materials

Joint Center for Urban Studies, records of the Guayana [Guiana] Project, Department of Distinctive Collections, Massachusetts, Institute of Technology, AC-0292.

The Lloyd Rodwin papers, collection MC-0490, in the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections.

Processing Information

Digital files were originally on 33 floppy disks (16, 3.5 inch; 17, 5.25 inch). Joe Carrano, digital archivist, imaged the disks using Guymager and Kryoflux software and migrated to Distinctive Collections storage. He extracted the files using tsk_recover utility and all disk images were retained except one that contained a boot sector virus, in which case only the extracted files were retained.

In addition to those 33 disks, there are two floppy disks in the collection that he was unable to image which remain in their box for possible future processing.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Lisa Redfield Peattie
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 April 30: Digital Archivist, Joe Carrano updated collection level notes to include information about the floppy disk digital media transfer (accession 2020-029).

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US