Archive for January, 2012

Anthropology was Not All White Males: Early Ethnographies by Women and Persons of Color

Monday, January 9th, 2012


The Antilist

Fifty early anthropological works by women and Indigenous, minority, and other non-white-male anthropologists

compiled by E. N. Anderson


The purpose of this list is to make it clear that early anthropology was absolutely not a white male preserve or an enterprise confined to some sort of colonial elite.  It was very much a science of the “others”–women, immigrants, ethnic minorities.

This list is confined to early works by women and by Indigenous and minority anthropologists.  I have tried to confine my attention to works written and published before 1950.  In several cases, though, I include books based on early research but not published until later (e.g. Weltfish 1965).  After 1950, the number of women and Indigenous or minority anthropologists becomes far too large to be confined in a list like this.  Special mention should be made of Mary Douglas, whose work began before 1950 but properly belongs to a later period (her first major publication was 1963).

Far from having to scrounge to find material, I generated this list in an hour or so (acknowledgements to Patrick Walton for some suggestions).  The problem was limiting the list to manageable size.

I also let my own biases run rampant here–it’s all ethnography and mostlyNorth America.  If you want to find equivalent materials in other fields of anthropology, go to it.  There is no shortage of material!

I have had to exclude archaeology (apologies to Dorothy Garrod, Kathleen Kenyon…), non-English sources (apologies to Germaine Dieterlen, G. Calame-Griaule, Maria Montessori…), and references to people who did wonderful work, published some, but never got out a major book of wide importance (apologies to Lucy Freeland, Anna Gayton, Arthur and Ely Parker [Morgan’s informants]…).  Saddest of all is a need to exclude nonwhite “informants,” often the actual authors of major works, who made valuable contributions but did not have actual anthropological or ethnographic training or formal publication venues.  Some did eventually get the author credit they deserved, such as Black Elk, Fernando Librado Kitsepawit, and Tom Sayach’apis.  It should be remembered that early anthropologists published vast amounts of actual texts recorded from such informants.

Even today, too few anthropologists give author credit to their coworkers in the field.  There are, however, many important and worthy exceptions.  See e.g. Birds of My Kalam Country by Ian Saem Majnep (Auckland: Auckland Univ. Press, 1977), Native Ethnography by Russell Bernard and Jesus Salinas Pedraza (Newbury Park: Sage, 1989), and my own Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico by E. N. Anderson and Felix Medina Tzuc.

Sometimes, early collections of texts have been redone and reissued recently as literature rather than as a supplement to an ethnography; see e.g. Hanc’ibeyjim, ed./tr. William Shipley, The Maidu Indian Myths and Stories of Hanc’ibyjim (Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1991), which consists of myths and tales recorded by Roland Dixon in 1902-03.

It is often claimed today that the dominance of “white males” in early anthropology means that it was some sort of Establishment field.  This claim is made in ignorance not only of the materials in this list, but also in ignorance of the fact that being a “white male” was no guarantee of privileged status in early 20th century America and England.  Anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant feelings were rampant and extreme.  If one was a Jewish immigrant inAmerica like Franz Boas or Edward Sapir, or a Jew inEurope like Emile Durkheim, one did not have an automatic easy time.  InAmerica, many of the early anthropologists were Jewish and/or immigrants or children thereof.  Consider also Malinowski, the Polish immigrant toEngland.  When impeccably White Establishment figures did get involved in anthropology, they were often rebels and radicals (e.g. Elsie Clews Parsons).


Some might argue that few of the following made major contributions to theory–though of course this is not true of Benedict, Mead, Paredes, or some of the others.  However, all actually made highly important contributions to ethnography–the theory, art, and science of providing adequate or useful descriptions of cultures.  In this age, that major achievement is too often ignored.  In that area, Bunzel, Fletcher, Hewitt, La Flesche, Stevenson, and many of the others below made pathbreaking contributions ranking with those of the Greats (Morgan, Boas, Cushing, Powell, etc.).  Further, some of the later writers below, like O’Neale and Powdermaker, were pathbreakers in areas only now becoming recognized as important.   One must conclude, alas, that these contributions were neglected because of sexism and racism.  I keep hoping this list will correct some of that.


15 particularly worthwhile sources are starred below.


Benedict, Ruth

**1923  The Concept of the Guardian Spirit inNorth America.  American Anthropological Assn., Memoirs, 29.  Classic work of great theoretical importance.  Deserves to be resurrected.

**The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.

This classic work is still current.  There is a huge literature on it inJapan.

The above two works are less well known than Patterns of Culture (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1934) but are very much better.


Beynon, William

Barbeau, Marius, and William Beynon (collectors); John Cove and George MacDonald (eds.).  1987 (re-editing of material collected and originally published in the early 20th century).  Tsimshian Narratives. Canada,Museum ofCivilization, Mercury Series, #3.  In spite of the multiple authorship, this is Beynon’s book.  He was a Tsimshian chief (with a white father—but the Tsimshian inherit matrilineally), trained in ethnography by Marius Barbeau.  The collecting and information on the stories was basically Beynon’s work.  This is one of the greatest of all the old-time text collections.


Blackwood, Beatrice

1935  Both Sides of Buka Passage. Oxford:OxfordUniv.Press.  Classic ethnography of aSolomon Islandssociety.

Buck, Peter (Te Rangi Hiroa)

1959  Vikings of the Pacific. Chicago:Univ.ofChicago.  This book summarizes his work throughoutPolynesiain the 1930s and 1940s.  Buck, an indefatigable ethnographer who produced many standard accounts of Polynesian groups, was part New Zealand Maori.  Though not raised in a particularly traditional manner, he took his background very seriously.

Bunzel, Ruth

**1929  ThePuebloPotter. New York:ColumbiaUniv.Press.  One of the first books to look seriously at women’s work as creative and culturally important.

See also 1992  Zuni Ceremonialism.  Recently reissued byUniv.ofNew Mexico Press; orig. 1930s.

One of the more important early ethnographers.  Her works are classics in their fields.  Several of her important works came out after 1950 (e.g. Chichicastenango, a Guatemalan Village, American Ethnological Society, 1952).


Busia, K. A.

1958  The Position of the Chief in the Modern Political System ofAshanti. London:OxfordUniv.Press for International African Institute.

Busia went on to become president of his nativeGhana.

Colson, Elizabeth

1953 (but work and most writing done before 1950).  The Makah Indians. Minneapolis:Univ.ofMinnesota.

Colson went on to a distinguished career as an Africanist.  Her earlier work on the Makah of the Olympic Peninsula is of interest here not only for the early date but for its value as one of the first ethnographies to deal seriously with education and with modern cultural realities (as opposed to “the ethnographic present”).


de Laguna, Frederica

1972  Under Mount Saint Elias.  Smithsonian Institution, Contributions to Anthropology, #7.

The most important work by one of the leading figures in North American ethnography.  Late date, but much of the research for it was done before 1950, and she was publishing long before.

Deloria, Ella

1932  Dakota Texts.  Papers of the American Ethnological Society, 14.  Vine Deloria’s aunt; a Boas student.


Dozier, Edward

1954  The Hopi-Tewa ofArizona.Univ.ofCaliforniaPublications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 44, pp. 259-376.  Classic ethnography of Dozier’s own people.


Drake, St. Clair

**1945  Black Metropolis. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

Pathbreaking ethnography by an African-American social scientist.

Dube, S. C.

1955 IndianVillage. Ithaca:CornellUniv.Press.

One of the founders of anthropology inIndia.


Fei Hsiao-tung

**1939  Peasant Life inChina. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

In the interests of space, I list only the most famous of Fei’s many major contributions to anthropology.


Fletcher, Alice, and La Flesche, Francis

1911  TheOmahaTribe.  Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Report XXVII (for 1906).  This great classic–sometimes called the greatest ethnography of all time–is only one (though the most important) of a number of works on theOmahaand their relatives by this brilliant and intrepid team.  La Flesche was anOmahahimself (like most early Native American ethnographers, he was part White, but raised as a Native person.  See under La Flesche, below).

On Fletcher, a paradoxical and deep individual, see the excellent biography by Joan Marks: A Stranger in Her Native Land (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1988).

Frazier,E. Franklin

**1962  Black Bourgeoisie. Ithaca:CornellUniv.Press.  2nd edn (first was before 1950).  Classic ethnography; Frazier, a Black sociologist, was writing in theChicagotradition of ethnographic sociology.


Garfield, Viola

1939  Tsimshian Clan and Societey. Univ.ofWashingtonPublications in Anthropology, 7, pp. 167-349.

Gunther, Erna

1945  Ethnobotany ofWestern Washington. Univ.ofWashingtonPubls. in Anthropology, Vol. X, #1.  Still in print.

Hewitt, J. N. B.

1903  Iroquoian Cosmology.  Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Report for 1899-1900 (vol. 21).  This mammoth work is the main achievement of one of the first Native Americans trained in anthropology.  It is also, by a very slight margin, the first major ethnography by a Native American.  Hewitt was a Seneca Iroquois whose long and distinguished service at the BAE involved a great deal of editing, linguistic work, referencing, etc.  See also:  Seneca Fiction, Leegends and Myths, collected by Jeremiah Curtin and J. N. B. Hewitt, ed. by Hewitt; BAE-AR 32 for 1910-11, issued in 1918.


Hsu, F. L. K.

1948  Under the Ancestors’ Shadow. New York:ColumbiaUniv.Press.

Classic ethnography of a village inYunnan.  Hsu went on to become a major figure in the culture-and-personality field.


Hunt, George

Franz Boas with George Hunt.  1921.  Ethnology of the Kwakiutl.  Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Report 35.

Listed as by “Franz Boas,” this incredible achievement is actually by George Hunt, a half-Scottish, half-Tlingit man raised among the Kwakwaka’wakw (“Kwakiutl”).  He was trained by Boas and wrote in response to Boas’ questions and queries; Boas edited the result.  The Hunt family is still important and still producing artists and ethnographers.


Hurston, Zora Neale

**1978 (reissue of 1935 work)  Mules and Men. Bloomington:IndianaUniv.Press.

Now well known as an African-American writer, Hurston was trained in folklore studies by Boas.  This book is the main result of her researches.  It has become something of a classic.  It is somewhat fictionalized–she made it more interesting by casting herself as the heroine of several of the stories she collected!  Her classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God also shows the Boas influence.


Iyer, Diwan Bahadur, and L. K. Ananthakrishna.  1935.  TheMysoreTries and Castes.  4 vols. (2-4 completed by H. V. Nanjundayya).  Classic survey.  There are other early ethnographic surveys by British-trained Indian researchers; forMysore, the gazetteer of 1926, edited by C. H. Rao.


Jones, William

1939  Ethnography of the Fox Indians.  Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 125.  Jones was part Fox and was raised among the Fox.  He gave his life for the cause; while conducting ethnographic research among Philippine headhunters, he had his head collected.  This book was published posthumously.

Kelly, Isabel

Kelly, Isabel, and Angel Palerm.  1950.  The Tajin Totonac. Washington: Smithsonian Insitution,InstituteofSocial Anthropology, Publication 13.

Kelly also did important research on the Paiute of theGreat Basin.


Kenyatta, Jomo

**1938  FacingMount Kenya. London: Secker and Warburg.

Malinowski’s star student found better ways to make himself useful than continuing a career in anthropology, but he did produce this work–perhaps more “consciousness raising” for his people than objective ethnography, but still a wonderful “insider’s view.”

La Flesche, Francis

1921-30  The Osage Tribe.  Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Reports, 36:35-604; 39, 31-630; 43, 23-164; 45, 529-833.

Incredible achievement by one of the best ethnographers of all time.

1963  The Middle Five. Madison:Univ.ofWisconsin(new edn.; original pub. y Small, Maynard and Co. inBostonin 1900).  Autobiographical narrative by one of the best of the early Native American ethnographers.


Laird, Carobeth

1976  The Chemehuevis.  Banning:MalkiMuseumPress.

1984  Mirror and Pattern.  Banning:MalkiMuseumPress.

Carobeth Laird was, briefly, the wife of John Peabody Harrington.  An incomparable field worker, she did not publish under her own name until sought out by Harry Lawton of theUniversityofCcalifornia,Riverside.  She then produced several superb books, including autobiographical ones as well as the above ethnographic classics.  Though late in date, these report pre-1950 research.

Marriott, Alice

1945  The Ten Grandmothers. Norman:Univ.ofOklahoma.  Classic account of Kiowa women (one of the first studies to focus on women).

1948  Maria, the Potter of San Ildefonso. Norman:Univ.ofOklahoma.  Probably the first ethnographic work to focus on the accomplishments of a woman in a traditional small-scale community.


Mead, Margaret

**1938-   The Mountain Arapesh. AmericanMuseumof Natural History, Anthropological Papers, vol. 36, part 3; 37:3; 40:3; 41:3.

Margaret Mead is too well known to need introduction or much referencing.  She wrote a number of other important works before 1950, contributing a great deal to ethnological theory (she more or less invented what is now called gender theory).

Murie, James

1981  Ceremonies of the Pawnee. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, Contributions to Anthropology #21.  Originally written early 20th century, but unpublished.  Murie was another protege of Alice Fletcher, with whom he collaborated on the classic account The Hako: A Pawnee Ceremony (BAE-AR 22, for 1900-01, issued 1904).


O’Neale, Lila

**1932  Yurok-Karok Basket Weavers. Univ.ofCaliforniaPublications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 13, pp. 1-155.

This little gem was one of the first anthropological studies to take “tribal-society” women and their artistic work really seriously.  It is well ahead of many or most works on that issue done today.  One finds it somewhat difficult to believe it was written more than 60 years ago.

Paredes, Americo

**1958  With His Pistol in His Hand. Austin:Univ.ofTexas

I’m bending it a bit on both the date and the “nonwhite” status of this Texas Chicano, but it isn’t every day that a technical anthropological monograph becomes a major Hollywood film (“The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez”).  Anyway, it’s a superior book and a particularly early example of a serious Mexican-American approach.  Paredes, one of the great teachers and folklorists, recently passed; his tradition continues in the work of José Limón and others.


Parsons, Elsie Clews

1936  Mitla, Town of the Souls. Chicago:Univ.ofChicagoPress.

1939 PuebloIndian Religion. Chicago

Parsons, Elsie Clews, and Esther Goldfrank.  1962.  Isleta Paintings. Washington,DC: Smithsonian Institution.  Two leading women anthropologists in collaboration.

Elsie Clews Parsons was one of the larger-than-life figures of early anthropology.  Tough, savvy, and radical to the core, she was a leading feminist, pacifist, civil rights agitator and sometime socialist.  She also married money, and used her fortune to fund anthropology.  See A Woman’s Quest for Science by Peter Hare (New York: Prometheus Books, 1985), an affectionate portrait by a relative rather than a detached historical study; it quotes great amounts of personal material.

Phinney, Archie

1934  Nez Perce Texts. ColumbiaUniv.Contributions to Anthropology, 25.  Another Boas student, Phinney was Nez Perce, and collected most of these tales from his grandmother.

Powdermaker, Hortense

1939  After Freedom: A Cultural Study of theDeep South. New York: Viking.

1950 Hollywood, the Dream Factory. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

1933  Life in Lesu. New York: Norton.

An important theorist, explorer of new fields of research, and student of Boas.  “After Freedom,” a study of a Black community inLouisiana, was part of a wave of studies of African Americans in the 1930s (see Frazier, above).  The “Hollywood” book anticipates modern “cultural studies” and does a better job than most of the latter.  She produced several important works after 1950, also.

Rasmussen, Knut

1927  Across ArcticAmerica. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

**1929  Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos.  Reports of the Fifth Thule Expedition, vol. 7, part 1.

Rasmussen was the son of a Danish father and a Greenland Eskimo mother; he was raised as an Eskimo.  Probably the most traditional in upbringing of any of the “third world/fourth world” ethnographers, he may well also have been the greatest.  His work is unsurpassed, for sheer ethnographic quality, by any anthropologist of any origin.

Reichard, Gladys

**1950  Navaho Religion. New York:ColumbiaUniv.Press.

Space permits listing only the greatest of Reichard’s countless contributions.  This book was of major theoretical importance in its time, and remains unsurpassed—though now out of date in approach, etc.—as an account of the subject.  (It is to be found in many a Navaho home today.  Anthropologists asking Navaho about their religion are often directed to this book.)


Richards, Audrey

**1948  Hunger and Work in a Savage Tribe. Glencoe,IL: Free Press.

Classic account.  Richards founded the field of nutritional anthropology, and her studies have never been surpassed.  A “high-born British lady,” she was happy in the wildest and most difficult “bush.”


Spott, Robert

Spott, Robert, and A. L. Kroeber.  1942.  Yurok Narratives. Univ.ofCalif.Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 35, #9, pp. 143-256.

Spott, a traditional Yurok from northwestern California, was trained as an ethnographer by Kroeber and became an excellent researcher.  (For an interesting comparison piece, see To the American Indian by Lucy Thompson [Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1991], the autobiography of a Yurok woman.  It originally appeared in 1916.)


Stevenson, Matilda Coxe

1904  The Zuni Indians.  Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Report 23.  Classic ethnography.  Stevenson is famous for her feuds with the Zuni, and with Frank Cushing, who identified with them strongly.  She still managed to collect a formidable amount of information on them.  She was so outraged at sexism in academia that she organized a Woman’s Anthropological Society of America in 1885.  (And you thought nobody did things like that till the 1970s!)


1946  Papago Indian Religion. New York:ColumbiaUniv.Press.

Weltfish, Gene

**1965  The Lost Universe. New York: Basic Books.

A study of the Pawnee.  One of the finest ethnographies of the Boasian tradition.


Wheeler-Voegelin, Erminie

1938  Tubatulabal Ethnography. Univ.ofCaliforniaAnthropological Records #2.


Yang, Martin

1945  AChineseVillage: Taitou,ShantungProvince. New York:ColumbiaUniv.Press.


Important Dates in the History of Anthropology

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Dates Worth Contemplating


5th century BC  Socrates, Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides; Herodotus provides brief ethnographies ofEgypt,Scythia, etc., and launches cultural relativity with an ironic story about Greeks confronting endocannibalism


4th  Aristotle; Chinese social theory launched by Mencius, Shang Yang, Shen Pu-hai and others


3rd  Xunzi, Han Feizi, Dao De Jing.  Major social thought that fed into Western social thought from the 17th century


98 AD  Germania by Tacitus (ca. 55-ca. 120); the first “ethnography” and very much the inspirer of the tradition


14th century AD   Ibn Khaldun, Tunisian theorist of cycles and systems


early 1500s  Europeans in New World and elsewhere, and English inIreland, develop modern colonialism and imperialism


1542  Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, by Bartolome de Las Casas (1484-1576); full-out attack on the extermination of the Native Americans by Spanish colonialism; first work of its kind

1580 (approx.)   “Of Cannibals” by Montaigne (1533-1592); highly sympathetic treatment, launches idea of cultural relativity


1590  Death of Bernardino de Sahagun, whose Codex Florentinus, using “native” accounts to construct a full-length ethnography, was finished around 1580


1596-1650  René Descartes; argued for empirical experimental science and for natural laws; with Francis Bacon, critical for invention of “science” as we know it


1651  Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes; “the life of man in his natural state is poore, solitary, nasty, brutish and short”


1690  Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke (1632-1704)

1718  Society of Antiquaries founded inLondon(after informally meeting since 1706); classical antiquities and some ethnography


1748, Spirit of Laws, by Baron Montesquieu (1689-1755); first serious use of worldwide ethnographic comparison to establish social theory; draws heavily on Chinese sources.  Also,

Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding (David Hume, 1711-76; it’s redone from the Treatise of Human Nature, 1739-40).


1712-1778  J.-J. Rousseau; major writings relevant to anthro in 1750s; lifelong critic of European society; far from idealizing the “noble savage” (he never used the phrase), he had some perceptive things to say about apes and humans, anticipating Darwinin some things. 1762, his Du Contrat Social critiques Hobbes and Locke and adds much (including a lot of healthy cynicism) on how society really works.


Ca. 1750  Word “civilisation” coined inFrance; popularized by Mirabeau.


Ca. 1770  “Ethnologie,” “ethnologisch” and “Völkerkunde” coined by August Schlözer atUniv. of Göttingen,Germany.


1772, Ernst Platner:  New Anthropology for Doctors and Philosophers:  With Special Consideration to Physiology, Pathology, Moral Philosophy, and Aesthetics.  Early if minor work about “anthropology.”

1775, Blumenbach’s Treatises on Anthropology (Eng edition; of the original editions, the Latin of 1770 is important)


1776  Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith, 1723-1790)


1786  William Jones, inCalcutta, reads paper presenting evidence that Sanskrit is related to European languages; Indo-European is born.  Meanwhile, inRussia, P. Pallas begins publishing his Comparative Vocabularies of the World’s Languages.  Comparative philology (and, thus, scientific linguistics) can be said to date from this year.


1788  Antropologie ou science générale de l’homme by Alexandre-César Chavannes; first book to use the word in the title.  Inconsequential, however, and the word did not really get going until:


1798,  Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, by Immanuel Kant, introduces the word “anthropology” to mainstream discourse.  The book was perhaps closer to sociology or social psychology (both fields that trace directly to Kant) than to modern anthro, but is in the direct ancestral lineage of all three.  Some brilliant insights and good political commentary, but also, alas, all too much evidence that Kant was a man of his time in re sexism and racism.  Still worth reading for the insights.

1798, also, and very significantly, Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), Essay upon the Principle of Population.  This was the bleak book that made “Malthusianism” a bad word and got political economy called “the dismal science.”  The sixth edition, 1826, was considerably less bleak.

1806, Rasmus Nyerup’s call for a Danish museum of antiquities; under Nyerup, Thomsen, etc. this museum really developed scientific archaeology


1813  Researches into the Physical History of Man (1st edn), by James C. Prichard.

Vedel-Simonsen inDenmarkproposes Stone-Bronze-Iron Ages sequence.

1821  Champollion deciphers the Rosetta Stone


1830-33, Principles of Geology by Charles Lyell; establishes concepts of uniformitarianism, stratigraphy, and the very long time scale for the earth and its development.


1835  Henry Rawlinson copies cuneiform texts; translates the Persian, pub. 1838; deciphers Babylonian by 1851

1836  C. J. Thomsen, Guide to Northern Antiquities, establishes the sequence Stone, Bronze and Iron ages.  (Work extended by J. Worsaae, his student, in 1850s.)


1836-38, J. Boucher de Perthes identifies stone tools contemporaneous with extinct megafauna in the Pleistocene; as he put it, “Practical people came to look…they did not suspect my good faith, but they doubted my common sense.”  (Quoted in Lowie, History of Ethnological Theory, p. 7.)  Widespread acceptance came in the 1850s.

1837  Founding of Aborigines Protection Society (the early equivalent of today’s Cultural Survival),England


1839  Founding of Societe Ethnologique de Paris


1841, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan by John L. Stephens (1805-1852); his Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, 1843.

1842  Founding of American Ethnological Society, with Albert Gallatin (1761-1849, Swiss-born) as first president; H. R. Schoolcraft, H. Hale, etc.

1843  Founding of Ethnological Society of London, as a spinoff from the Anti-Slavery League and influenced by the Aborigines Protection Society


1846-48  Potato blight and bad weather cause famine acrossEurope.  This coincides with the early peak of socialism and nationalism as ideologies, leading to a rash of revolutions and to new heights of social thought.


1847, Broca begins his physical anthropology work (most active publishing, 1870s)

Austen Henry Layard’s Nineveh and Its Remains reports early Mesopotamian archaeology; sells 8000 copies in the year, “which,” Layard wrote, “will place it side by side with Mrs. Rundell’s Cookery”–the Julia Child of the 19th century


1848  Karl Marx and F. Engels, Communist Manifesto.

John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy.

Gallatin publishes his final work on American Indian languages in long introduction to Horatio Hale’s book Indians of North-West America; scientific linguistics firmly established in America.

1850  Social Statics, first book by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903); steady and active publisher thereafter; particularly influential in 1860-1885 period.  Spencer, notDarwin, gave us “social Darwinism,” which, as various people have pointed out, should be called “social Spencerism.”


1851, League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois (Lewis Henry Morgan: 1818-81).

Auguste Comte’s Systeme de Politique Positive (1851-54); his Cours de Philosophie Positive was 1830-42. (Auguste Comte, “father of sociology,” was yet another neo-Kantian; he lived 1798-1857).


1854, Rise of pseudo-scientific racism with A. de Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inegalité des races humaines.  Nott and Glidden, American racists, wrote similar books in 1854 and 1857.


1856 (excavated), 1857 (studied): First Neanderthal to be recognized as an early human (by T. H. Huxley and others)


1858, Darwin and Wallace jointly publish the theory of evolution through natural selection

William Pengelly invents stratigraphy in excavation, using natural strata in excavatingBrixhamCave

1859, Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin.

Beginning of paleolithic archaeology: J. Prestwich begins publishing; Boucher de Perthes and others meet inFrance, recognize that the material soon called “paleolithic” is very early in date; Charles Lyell formally announces this inEngland.  The fact that this andDarwin’s publication occurred in the same year is no mere coincidence.

1860  Thomas Henry Huxley debates Samuel Wilberforce atOxfordand soundly defeats him, establishing evolution as a formidable foe of traditional religious creationism.  (Huxley was called “Darwin’s bulldog,” since the retiringDarwinhated debates.  Huxley also coined the word “agnostic” to describe his religious attitudes.)

Britainis reading Dickens, Carlyle, Macaulay….


1861, Ancient Law by Henry Maine; holds that patriarchy was the original form of social organization among Classical European peoples (but NOT everywhere)

Das Mutterrecht by J. Bachofen; holds that matriarchy was the original form everywhere.


1863  Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature, by Thomas Henry Huxley


1864, Fustel de Coulange’s Cité antique, social study of Greek and Roman cities


1865, J. McLennan’s Primitive Marriage (much expanded into Studies in Ancient History, 1876); puts the real spin on the matriarchy theory, and introduces much of the modern terminology for marriage studies, including “exogamy” and “endogamy”

J. Lubbock’s Pre-Historic Times; 2edn 1872.

1867, first volume of Marx’ Capital (last vol. published posthumously in 1894; Marx lived 1818-83)


1868, Museum für Völkerkunde opens inBerlin; the great neo-Kantian liberal and ethnologist, Adolf Bastian, director.

L. H. Morgan, The American Beaver and His Works, published.  (On top of inventing modern anthropology, Morgan essentially invented animal behavior studies and the whole idea of comparing animal to human society and behavioral complexity.)


1869, Bastian and Rudolf Virchow establish the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology, and Prehistory, and start the journal Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, still a major journal last I looked.


1869-70  “The Worship of Animals and Plants,” article in the Fortnightly Review by J. McLennan, introduces the theory of totemism


1871, Morgan’s Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity (introduces the anthropological concepts of kinship “systems” and of “social organization”).

Darwin’s Descent of Man.

Edward Burnett Tylor’s (1832-1917), Primitive Culture, the book that launched the modern use of the word “culture.”   That definition is still used.  The book was standard inEngland for decades.  Tylor later became the first anthropology professor atOxford.

Anthropological Institute ofGreat BritainandIrelandestablished; name coined by Huxley.  Later became the Royal A. I.

J. O. Dorsey begins work on Cegiha (Omahalanguage); arguably the first thorough anthropological-linguistic field research.

H. Schliemann begins work atTroy, working there and nearby till his death in 1890; over the years, his assistant Doerpfeld develops techniques of stratigraphy and other modern archaeological methods.

Talk about the Axial Year…!


1870-1900  Golden age of imperialism; US Indian Wars (peak in 1870s), “Great Game” in Central Asia (started earlier), “Scramble for Africa” (esp. 1880s and 1890s), British takeover of Malaysia, Dutch consolidation in Indonesia, etc.  Anthropology develops partly as a reaction against this, partly as an accommodation.

1875  Frederick Ward Putnam (1839-1915) becomes curator of Peabody Mus.


1875-80, first Paleolithic art research: Marquis de Sautuola inAltamiraCavediscovers the art 1875, publishes it in 1880 after research

1877  Morgan’s Ancient Society


1878-9, Erminnie Platt Smith studies the Tuscarora; first major ethnographic research by a woman; she trains J. E. B. Hewitt first as assistant, then as ethnographer, and he goes on to a distinguished career with the BAE–the first Native American anthropologist; Smith thus pioneered the technique (later perfected by Fletcher and Boas) of getting local indigenous people to take over the ethnographic project.  Unfortunately, Smith’s work was cut short by her untimely death in 1886.


1879, US Congress establishes USGS and BAE.  First BAEAR (Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report), 1880.   Frank Cushing (1857-1900) at Zuni, 1879-1884.


1883, Tylor starts teaching at Oxford, thanks to General Lane Fox Pitt Rivers funding a post along with his museum there.


1883-4  Franz Boas (1858-1942) carries out his Inuit field work.  1885-6, Boas assists Bastian at Mus. for V.

1883  W. M. Flinders Petrie begins work inEgypt.  Major publications include Tell el Amarna, 1894, and Royal Tombs of Abydos, 1901.

1884  Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State by Frederick Engels (1820-1895)

1885, Women’s Anthropological Society founded by Matilda Coxe Stephenson in protest to Anthro. Soc. ofWashingtonexcluding women.  The WAS lasted till around 1899, when the new AAA arose (1898) and opened its doors to all genders and ethnicities


1886, Putnam becomes Peabody Professor of Anthropology at Harvard, but no real instruction there till 1890.


1887  Le suicide, by Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917.

F. Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Society), sociological classic that greatly influenced ethnology


1887-88, First and main Hemenway Expedition; Cushing and several archaeologists launch major study of the Southwest

1888  American Anthropologist begins (started by the Anthropological Society of Washington).  Boas begins teaching at Clark U (leaves 1892; to AMNH in 1895).

1889  Tylor, address to RAI, “On a Method of Investigating the Development of Institutions, Applied to Laws of Marriage and Descent,” introduces the term and theory of “cross-cousin marriage”; in a comment, Francis Galton (statistician, eugenicist, racist, sometime president of the RAI) introduces Galton’s Problem


1890  First edition of The Golden Bough by James Frazer (1854-1941).  The final, definitive edition in many volumes came out in 1911-15.

First really modern archaeology: Flinders Petrie at Tell el-Hesi,Palestine, uses techniques of stratigraphy, cross-dating, and careful excavation of all artifacts, developed by him inEgyptand by Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers inEnglandover preceding decade

1891, John Wesley Powell (1834-1902), “Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico,” published in 7th BAEAR

Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage, 1st edn.; definitive 5th edn., much larger, 1921


1892, Alexander F. Chamberlain receives the first PhD in anthropology in theUS(under Boas atClark; a very fine anthropologist, Chamberlain became sickly and died young).  Anthro begins at U. of Chicago, but with Frederick Starr, a geologist and not very good ethnographer; in spite of giving out two early PhDs, to Merton Miller and David Prescott Barrows, in 1897, Chicago didn’t start real anthro till Fay-Cooper Cole got there in 1924 and Sapir in 1925; and then it was still under Sociology till 1929, giving a strong, still-enduring flavor to the Dept. there.  Starr and Barrows were “lost” to administrative positions, and Miller was never heard from again, soChicagowas not really a player till Cole.


1893  Columbian Exposition.  Lots of archaeology and ethnology on display; material from Mancos, CO, leads John Harshberger to coin term “ethnobotany” in 1895


1894  First archeology PhD in US: George Dorsey under Putnam at Harvard.  Cyrus Thomas’ mound researches published in BAEAR for 90-91.  Livingston Farrand teaches anthro atColumbia(with W. Ripley; Boas arrived in 1896).

B. Spencer and F. Gillen begin their classic joint work in centralAustralia.  Spencer was an ethnographer, Gillen a local who started by helping with details and wound up becoming an excellent ethnographer in his own right.

Arthur Evans begins work onKnossos(excavates Minos’ palace in 1900).

1897-1902  Jesup Expedition


1898-9 Torres Straits Expedition, led by Alfred Cort Haddon.  (Haddon’s The Study of Man, an early four-field text, pub 1898.)  This expedition was the first serious field work by British anthropologists.  W. H. R. Rivers, brought along as psychologist, does the first field work in psychological anthropology.


1900 RolandDixonPhD; 2nd in US, 1st at Harvard (under Putnam).

Wilhelm Wundt, Völkerpsychologie, published; a leading psychologist’s statement on culture and psych.


1901, anthropology begins at UCB: A. L. Kroeber and P. E. Goddard.  (1902-3, Putnam there, organizes it.  Boas opposed, Putnam supported, the new department.)  Kroeber was Boas’ first Ph.D. atColumbia(I think 1901)


1902  Pyotr Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution.


1903, Durkheim & Mauss’ Primitive Classification.

Max Uhle publishes major work onPeru.

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience.

1904-5, Die protestantische Ethik usnd der Geist des Kapitalismus pub., in 2 parts, by Max Weber (1864-1920.)

1906  Alice Fletcher and Joseph La Flesche, The Omaha Tribe, classic ethnographic collaboration between Anglo andOmaha ethnographers, published in BAEAR.


1908, Rites de passage by Arnold van Gennep.  Georg Simmel, Conflict and the Web of Group-Affiliations (Ger. orig.)

1911, Boas’ Mind of Primitive Man


1912  Formes elementaires de la vie religieuse, by Durkheim

Piltdown skull and accompanying material discovered; quickly championed (and possibly created) by Arthur Keith; attacked by Ales Hrdlicka and many others

1913  Sigmund Freud, Totem und Taboo (Eng transl. by A. A. Brill, 1918)


1914-18, Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) stuck in Trobriands (as war internee allowed to do field work)

1915, Cours de Linguistique Generale issued by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye from notes on lectures given 1907-11 by Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)


1921  Sapir’s Language (and, in the same year, Otto Jesperson’s book by the same title and with the same “educated layperson” reader in mind; the contrast is dramatic; Sapir is fully 20th century, Jesperson thoroughly 19th)


1922  A. R. Radcliffe-Brown’s Andaman Islanders and Malinowski’s Argonauts of the Western Pacific.  (ARR-B’s classic articles came out soon after: “The Methods of Ethnology and Social Anthropology,” 1923; “The Mother’s Brother inSouth Africa,” 1924.  Known for his devotion to Durkheimian theory, R-B had had an earlier devotion to Kropotkin that earned him the nickname of Anarchy Brown.)

1922-3, Weber’s Gesammelte Aufsaetze zur Religionssoziologie (collected essays on sociology of religion; core works published originally in 1916-19; Weber’s core economic work was also collected and published in 1922-3)


1923, Ruth Benedict’s The Concept of the Guardian Spirit in North America published; neglected classic, much better than Patterns of Culture

1925, Marcel Mauss’ (1872-1950) Essai sur le don (The Gift) published.  Not translated till 1954!

A. R. Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955) and Malinowski both in US.