In 1966, Beatrix and R. Allen Gardner began Project Washoe by cross-fostering (i.e. one species raising another, in this case humans raising a chimpanzee) the chimpanzee Washoe as if she were a deaf child at the University of Nevada at Reno. A vital component of the cross-fostering environment was the exclusive use of American Sign Language (ASL) in communication between Washoe and her caregivers. Raised in this environment, Washoe acquired the signs of ASL in much the same way that deaf human children acquire the signs, making her the first non-human in history to acquire a human language. In 1967 Roger Fouts entered Project Washoe as a graduate assistant and became intimately involved in the daily care of Washoe and exposing her to ASL. In 1970, Washoe, accompanied by Roger Fouts and his wife Deborah Fouts, moved to the Institute of Primate Studies (IPS) at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. For the first time Washoe was able to interact with other chimpanzees. At the IPS, in addition to working with Washoe, Roger Fouts exposed other chimpanzees at the Institute to ASL.
The next step in the study was to see if a chimpanzee mother, Washoe, could transmit the acquisition of American Sign Language to an infant chimpanzee. On January 9, 1979 Washoe gave birth to a male infant, Sequoyah, and it seemed the project could move forward. However, Sequoyah suffered from a number of health setbacks during the first months of his life and ultimately succumbed to pneumonia on March 8, 1979. The opportunity to study the transmission of ASL from mother to infant was ultimately revitalized with the introduction of another infant chimpanzee, thus beginning Project Loulis (1979-1985). On March 29, 1979, Washoe was introduced to a 10 month old infant, Loulis, whose own mother was unable to care for him. During the early years of Loulis’s life, humans were restricted from signing around him. Loulis learned his signs from Washoe and from the other signing chimpanzees, making him the only chimpanzee ever to acquire a human language from a conspecific.
The Gardners' cross-fostered other young chimpanzees: Moja, Tatu, and Dar, who also acquired the signs of ASL; Moja joined Washoe, Loulis, and the Foutses in Oklahoma in 1979. By this point, Roger Fouts was looking for a new place to call home for the chimpanzees under his care and for his research. In 1980, the Foutses moved with Washoe, Loulis, and Moja to Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. In 1981, Dar and Tatu joined the other chimpanzees at Central Washington University. Originally housed in the Psychology Building, the chimpanzees were relocated to the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute in 1993 which was specifically built with their needs in mind. Roger and Deborah co-directed the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute until their retirement in 2011. The current director, Dr. Mary Lee Jensvold, has been a member of the research team since 1986 and studied under Drs. Fouts and Gardner.
The research that continues today with the cross-fostered adult chimpanzees shows they use their signs in spontaneous, appropriate, and conversational ways with their human caregivers and each other. They sign to initiate activities, comment on their world, request, respond to questions, and clarify misunderstandings. They adjust their signing to their conversational partner, for example they slow down their signing for new signers. They sign to themselves like humans talk to themselves. They use their signs in imaginary play, for example signing to stuffed animals. They draw pictures and name the images they create.
While the main objectives of Project Washoe and Project Loulis have come to a close, the chimpanzees continue to serve as the focus of continuous research studies. Thirty undergraduates intern each academic year and participate in the daily care and enrichment of the chimpanzees. Nine graduate students per academic year work towards their Masters of Science degrees in Experimental Psychology and Primate Behavior with CHCI as their research host. CHCI also runs a Summer Apprentice program which allows students and faculty to gain experience working with the chimpanzees as well as learning the history of the project. Additionally, CHCI has played host to a number of visiting researchers, drawing both nationally and internationally, who have conducted new research as well as utilizing the over forty years of data housed on-site.
The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute Collection contains material spanning from 1970-1980 and the time at the Institute of Primate Studies in Norman, Oklahoma, to the move of Roger Fouts and the five chimpanzees in 1980 to the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, which to this day is the home of the remaining chimpanzees: Loulis, Tatu, and Dar. The collection consists of: completed, abandoned, and ongoing research (including grant-funded projects) and thesis studies; photographic negatives, prints, and slides; film and video footage in VHS, mini Digital Videocassettes, Betamax, ¾” u-matic, ½” high density tape, Sanyo V-Cord, 16mm film, and 8mm film; charts, records, and logs of daily chimpanzee care and activity. The bulk of the collection is from 1980-2012 and has originated from Central Washington University; however, the collection does contain records and media originating from the University of Oklahoma.
Other Descriptive Information
Funding for the production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the Lounsbery Foundation.
Restrictions on Access :
All requests to use the collection must be vetted through the Friends of Washoe and the Director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute.Restrictions on Use :
The collection includes media formats: Betamax, Sanyo V-Cord, ½” high density tape, 8mm film, 16mm film, and ¾” u-matic tapes which are currently without playback capabilities. Permission is required for reproduction or publication of materials.Preferred Citation :
[Identification of item]. Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute Records. Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. Central Washington University.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Data collected while at the University of Oklahoma, Institute of Primate Studies in Norman, Oklahoma. All records were created by Roger S. Fouts or by individuals working under his direction. Records are ditto copied, photocopied, and handwritten notes housed in 3-ring binders.
This series includes news footage of the chimpanzees and Roger Fouts at the Institute of Primate Studies, educational films, and additional footage filmed while at the Institute of Primate Studies. The film in this series is on both acetate and polyester bases.
Each folder contains pencil drawings by the chimpanzees and typed sheets with handwritten notes from their observers. The Booee folder contains a black pencil with teeth marks and the Lucy folder contains paintings with acrylics in addition to the pencil drawings.
The film in this series covers time spent at the Institute of Primate Studies and the first couple of years at Central Washington University. The film covers many of the other chimpanzees at the Institute of Primate Studies that were not under Roger Fouts’ direct care but were taught American Sign Language under his tutelage. The 8mm film in this series is on reels, Magi-Cartridges, and loose.
During the period of time while at the Institute of Primate Studies, extensive research was being conducted on the relationships between mother and infant chimpanzees; many of these tapes come from that research. Additionally, this series includes signing interactions between chimpanzees and human caregivers as well as Debbi Fouts’ thesis data.
This series includes recordings from the last year Roger Fouts and Washoe were at the Institute of Primate Studies as well first two years at Central Washington University.
The initial premise of Project Loulis focused on the cultural transmission of a human language in chimpanzees. After it was clear that Loulis had acquired signs that he learned from Washoe and the other signing chimpanzees, studies looked at how his phrases developed and how he used his signs in interactions with other chimpanzees and with human caregivers. The records are stored in 3-ring binders.
Observational records of a "good"/lengthy interaction, the use of a new sign, or chimp to chimp (C-C) signing. Datasheets include: Subject, Behavior, and Observer. The Loulis logs #22-29 are PCM logs which record the place, configuration, and movement of an observed sign. Records are stored in 3-ring binders.
Meal charts are records of everything the chimpanzees eat each day. Caregivers fill in the ingredients of everything they serve the chimpanzees and also how much they ate. Medicines are also indicated on the meal chart, as well as any abnormal stool notes. Male chimpanzee arousal and odor levels and female sexual swelling cycles are also noted on the meal charts. Meal charts are stored in 3-ring binders in the conference room.
Data analysis of signs Loulis used during Project Loulis. The records are housed in 3-ring binders.
Detailed diary notes and logs of chimpanzee to chimpanzee signing. The records are housed in 3-ring binders.
Detailed diary notes and sign logs from Project Loulis. Logs are housed in 3-ring binders.
Charts that explain the placement, configuration, and movement of each observed sign for the five chimpanzees. The records are housed in 3-ring binders.
Video Follow is comprised of 15 minute focal follows. Each chimp is taped twice a day for ten days. The chimps are filmed in the order presented on the data sheet for each day. Video Follow tapes from 1981 are on Betamax; from 1986 to May 2000 are on VHS; and October 2000 to present are on mini Digital Videocassettes. Video Follow from 1981 to March 1993 took place in the Psychology Building at Central Washington University. Starting in May 1993, all recordings took place in the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at CWU.
The Sign Checklists are a daily log of all the observed signs used by the chimpanzees in a given day. The checklists include signs in which the chimpanzees are reliable as well as a place to include newly observed signs. The checklists in the Archive Room are computer printouts bound together while the rest of the checklists are organized chronologically within 3-ring binders.
Adventitious refers to a series of recordings that are not a part of a structured research project. The series includes recordings of holiday celebrations, closed circuit meals for Advanced Chimposiums, new enclosures or structures, or activities developed to provide enrichment for the chimpanzees. The tapes in this series are on Betamax, VHS, and mini Digital Videocassettes.
The video follow data provides information regarding the order of filming each chimpanzee, any notable interactions or events, and any interruptions or changes in the filming schedule. The charts are stored in 3-ring binders.
The ChimpanZoo Research, Education, and Enrichment Program is sponsored by the Jane Goodall Institute. Records are housed in 3-ring binders.
Shift reports are records of the daily routine in caring for the chimpanzees. From 1986-1993 the reports contained additional information regarding interesting interactions or new signs which is now reserved for sign logs. Current shift reports focus on the shifting of chimps, unlocking of enclosures, when meals are served, and anything outside of “normal” activity occurs. The reports are stored in 3-ring binders.
Old training manuals and taxonomies for caretakers from the period of time the chimpanzees were housed in the Psychology building. The manuals are housed in 3-ring binders.
Enrichment logs are checklists of common enrichment categories the chimpanzees are offered each day. Caregivers note which categories of enrichment are offered to the chimpanzees on a particular day as well as any enhanced enrichment that does not fall into one of the common categories. The logs are stored in 3-ring binders.
Data collected prior to and immediately after the move of the chimpanzees from the Psychology Building to the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute.
The Sign of the Day Project prompted the chimpanzees to sign about a target sign that changed daily. The records are housed in 3-ring binders.
Fieldwork research has been conducted off-site by researchers from the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at both African field sites and African sanctuaries. The Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund is now known as: Ape Action Africa. Gombe (Tanzania), Africa and Kibale (Uganda), Africa tapes are on VHS and Cameroon and Zambia tapes are on mini Digital Videocassettes.
Handwritten, observational notes recorded from Berm observational area. Logs are stored in 3-ring binders in the computer room.
The Summer Apprentice Program runs for an eight week session each summer and provides an opportunity for up to fifteen students or faculty to perform and participate in research. This series includes resulting research as well as administrative records (i.e. applications, evaluations, handbooks).
Activity Budgets examine the how the chimpanzees spend their days and the activities they engage in.
Data is stored in 3-ring binders housed in the conference room.
Conversational Video Follow tapes are recorded interactions between chimpanzees and human caregivers. Conversational Video Follow is not as structured as regular video follow and does not have time restrictions or adhere to a formal schedule.
The photographs and slides focus on capturing chimpanzee signing, interaction between the chimpanzees, and interactions between chimpanzees and humans. Other emphases of the series include: the building stages of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute; Jane Goodall’s visits to Central Washington University; and photographs of the chimpanzees as infants. Negatives for the photographs are also contained within this series.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.