Foundations of Anthropology at the University of California   Seal of The University of California
Hacienda del Pozo de Verona

Hacienda del Pozo de Verona
Pleasanton, California
G. E. Gould, ca. 1900

Founding Documents
Franz Boas Letter to Z. Nuttall New York, 11 April 1901

Franz Boas

Letter to Z. Nuttall

New York, 11 April 1901

(shown: page 1 of 4; remainder at bottom)

I wish to interest you in one subject to which I have been devoting a great deal of time and energy during the last few years ... .”

Here is the germ of the idea of an anthropological research program in California. In Boas’s mind, it would be devoted exclusively to field work, research, and publication on Native American linguistics and ethnology. Boas later claimed to Wheeler that he alone was responsible for enlisting Hearst’s support for the Department, perhaps unaware of her intentions with regard to her collections, which were expressed well in advance of Boas’s involvement.

Boas suggests he would direct the Department and would raise half the $6,000 budget from sources such as Archer Huntington in Southern California. Despite this attractive offer (and Hearst’s and Wheeler’s strong desire to find more benefactors for the Department), Boas was passed over in favor of Putnam.

With Nuttall’s encouragement, Boas made his proposal in a letter to Phoebe Hearst (5 May 1901).

full transcription

Franz Boas Letter to Z. Nuttall New York, 11 April 1901 p.2Franz Boas Letter to Z. Nuttall New York, 11 April 1901 p.3Franz Boas Letter to Z. Nuttall New York, 11 April 1901 p.4

CU-5 Ser 1 Ctn 6:97

Alfred Louis Kroeber Telegram to P. A. Hearst [New York, 22 July 1901]

Alfred Louis Kroeber

Telegram to P. A. Hearst

[New York, 22 July 1901]

Hearst offered the first position in the new department to Kroeber, well before the Regents accepted her proposal.

BANC MSS C-B 925 Ctn 1:1

Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901]

Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al.

Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology

[Berkeley, September 1901]

(shown: page 1 of 7; remainder at bottom)

Presenting this proposal to the Regents in San Francisco three days after it was conceived at Pleasanton, Wheeler remarked,

The work which Mrs. Hearst has been conducting under various heads, all looking toward the collection of materials illustrative of anthropology and of its subdivisions, is now offered by her ... free of all expense to the University.

Although Wheeler credited the plan to Hearst, several of the founders clearly had a hand in preparing it. Boas's influence is evident in the focus on ethnological, linguistic, and mythological research. A map attached to the document indicated the first research priorities for Kroeber and Goddard.

The plan clearly reflects Hearst's intentions with regard to two important matters, instruction and the collections. It reads,

While the Department is in its formative state, under the direction of the Committee, regular instruction will not be undertaken ... . Instructors and Assistants ... shall carry on researches and from time to time give lectures relating to their researches... .

Regarding the priority of the collections, the plan states,

... it was of the first importance that these collections ... should be brought together and recorded ... in a temporary fire-proof structure... and all persons seeing it, knowing that it was filled with objects of great value and interest, which could not be seen until properly arranged, would undoubtedly hasten the erection of a Museum building.

This expectation was never met in Hearst's lifetime, and may well have weakened her interest in the University. From subsequent actions the authorities made clear they valued research and instructional programs much more highly than the collections perhaps, in part, because they found them easier to fund. A museum opened in Kroeber Hall in 1960, but a facility worthy of the distinguished collection founded by Hearst still remains an elusive dream.

full transcription

Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901] p.2Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901] p.3Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901] p.4Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901] p.5Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901] p.6Phoebe Apperson Hearst, et al. Suggestions for the organization of a Department of Anthropology [Berkeley, September 1901] p.7

CU-1 Ctn 38:31