At the end of the nineteenth century, a rising interest

  in Native American customs and an increasing desire to

  understand Native American culture prompted ethnolo-

  gists to begin recording the life stories of Native Amer-

  (5) ican. Ethnologists had a distinct reason for wanting to

  hear the stories: they were after linguistic or anthropo-

  logical data that would supplement their own field

  observations, and they believed that the personal

  stories, even of a single individual, could increase their

  (10) understanding of the cultures that they had been

  observing from without. In addition many ethnologists

  at the turn of the century believed that Native Amer-

  ican manners and customs were rapidly disappearing,

  and that it was important to preserve for posterity as

  (15) much information as could be adequately recorded

  before the cultures disappeared forever.

  There were, however, arguments against this method

  as a way of acquiring accurate and complete informa-

  tion. Franz Boas, for example, described autobiogra-

  (20) phies as being “of limited value, and useful chiefly for

  the study of the perversion of truth by memory,” while

  Paul Radin contended that investigators rarely spent

  enough time with the tribes they were observing, and

  inevitably derived results too tinged by the investi-

  (25) gator’s own emotional tone to be reliable.

  Even more importantly, as these life stories moved

  from the traditional oral mode to recorded written

  form, much was inevitably lost. Editors often decided

  what elements were significant to the field research on a

  (30) given tribe. Native Americans recognized that the

  essence of their lives could not be communicated in

  English and that events that they thought significant

  were often deemed unimportant by their interviewers.

  Indeed, the very act of telling their stories could force

  (35) Native American narrators to distort their cultures, as

  taboos had to be broken to speak the names of dead

  relatives crucial to their family stories.

  Despite all of this, autobiography remains a useful

  tool for ethnological research: such personal reminis-

  (40) cences and impressions, incomplete as they may be, are

  likely to throw more light on the working of the mind

  and emotions than any amount of speculation from an

  ethnologist or ethnological theorist from another


  1. Which of the following best describes the organization

  of the passage?

  (A) The historical backgrounds of two currently used

  research methods are chronicled.

  (B) The validity of the data collected by using two

  different research methods is compared.

  (C) The usefulness of a research method is questioned

  and then a new method is proposed.

  (D) The use of a research method is described and the

  limitations of the results obtained are discussed.

  (E) A research method is evaluated and the changes

  necessary for its adaptation to other subject areas are


  2. Which of the following is most similar to the actions of

  nineteenth-century ethnologists in their editing of the

  life stories of Native Americans?

  (A) A witness in a jury trial invokes the Fifth

  Amendment in order to avoid relating personally

  incriminating evidence.

  (B) A stockbroker refuses to divulge the source of her

  information on the possible future increase in a

  stock’s value.

  (C) A sports announcer describes the action in a team

  sport with which he is unfamiliar.

  (D) A chef purposely excludes the special ingredient

  from the recipe of his prizewinning dessert.

  (E) A politician fails to mention in a campaign speech

  the similarities in the positions held by her opponent

  for political office and by herself.

  3. According to the passage, collecting life stories can be a

  useful methodology because

  (A) life stories provide deeper insights into a culture

  than the hypothesizing of academics who are not

  members of that culture

  (B) life stories can be collected easily and they are not

  subject to invalid interpretations

  (C) ethnologists have a limited number of research

  methods from which to choose

  (D) life stories make it easy to distinguish between the

  important and unimportant features of a culture

  (E) the collection of life stories does not require a

  culturally knowledgeable investigator

  4. Information in the passage suggests that which of

  the following may be a possible way to eliminate

  bias in the editing of life stories?

  (A) Basing all inferences made about the culture

  on an ethnological theory

  (B) Eliminating all of the emotion-laden information

  reported by the informant

  (C) Translating the informant’s words into the

  researcher’s language

  (D) Reducing the number of questions and carefully

  specifying the content of the questions that the

  investigator can ask the informant

  (E) Reporting all of the information that the informant

  provides regardless of the investigator’s personal

  opinion about its intrinsic value

  5. The primary purpose of the passage as a whole is to

  (A) question an explanation

  (B) correct a misconception

  (C) critique a methodology

  (D) discredit an idea

  (E) clarify an ambiguity

  6. It can be inferred from the passage that a characteristic

  of the ethnological research on Native Americans

  conducted during the nineteenth century was the use

  of which of the following?

  (A) Investigators familiar with the culture under study

  (B) A language other than the informant’s for recording

  life stories

  (C) Life stories as the ethnologist’s primary source of


  (D) Complete transcriptions of informants’ descriptions

  of tribal beliefs

  (E) Stringent guidelines for the preservation of cultural


  7. The passage mentions which of the following as a factor

  that can affect the accuracy of ethnologists’

  transcriptions of life stories?

  (A) The informants’ social standing within the culture

  (B) The inclusiveness of the theory that provided the

  basis for the research

  (C) The length of time the researchers spent in the

  culture under study

  (D) The number of life stories collected by the


  (E) The verifiability of the information provided by the

  research informants

  8. It can be inferred from the passage that the author would

  be most likely to agree with which of the following

  statements about the usefulness of life stories as a source

  of ethnographic information?

  (A) They can be a source of information about how

  people in a culture view the world.

  (B) They are most useful as a source of linguistic


  (C) They require editing and interpretation before they

  can be useful.

  (D) They are most useful as a source of information

  about ancestry.

  (E) They provide incidental information rather than

  significant insights into a way of life.