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Lillian Trager, professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside for over 30 years, served as director of the university's Center for International Studies from 1993-1998. Her research focused primarily on Nigerian community ties, economics, and migration patterns.
Trager received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and continued her education at the University of Washington. Her master's program research in 1971 focused on migrant workers in California. She earned her doctorate from the University of Washington, researching the economic systems in Nigeria. Her dissertation, "Yoruba Markets and Trade: Analysis of Spatial Structure and Social Organization in the Ijesaland Marketing System," was published in 1976. Lillian's career at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside began in 1975 as a visiting assistant professor. She eventually became a tenured professor and was the chair of the Department of Sociology-Anthropology from 1987-1989.
The collection includes field notes from doctoral research in Nigeria in the early 1970s, and from her work in Nigeria from 1991-2000. Also included are photographs from her time in Nigeria starting in 1958 (when she visited the area as a child) and ending in the early 2000s. The photographs focus on capturing art, dance, and culture in communities primarily within western Nigerian states including Osun, Ondo, Lagos, and others. The collection also includes digitized video capturing community celebrations, coronations, interviews and a tour of a local women's cooperative business. Audio recordings include speeches, discussions, and interviews with community leaders, including Oba Oladele Olashore of Ilesa-Ijesa. Lillian's research in Nigeria resulted in her 2001 book, Yoruba Hometowns: Community, Identity, and Development in Nigeria, and a documentary film, Yoruba Hometowns and Local Development in Nigeria.
Dr. Trager also collected Nigerian textiles during the course of her research. A portion of her collection has been donated to the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection by Dick Ammann.