Foundations of Anthropology at the University of California   Seal of The University of California
Section 4 composite

Section 4 Composite
Kroeber, letters, Goddard

Establishing the Department
I believe it has been wisely started with an elastic organization which can be made most beneficial to science and to the University…. God bless Mrs. Hearst ! She has done a grand work and one that will be far-reaching.
F. W. Putnam, 16 October 1901

n its first year, the new Department ostensibly was under the purview of the “Honorary Advisory Committee” approved by the Regents. Members included the six founders, three faculty, and a secretary. Putnam, as committee chair, was more or less in charge but he spent most of the year tending his three other appointments as professor, museum director, and curator in Cambridge and New York. The arrangement worked because Putnam kept in close touch with Wheeler, Kroeber, and Hearst, and because the program’s objectives were narrowly defined. These included ethnological and archaeological field research in California; archaeological excavations in Egypt, Peru, and Mexico; and housing and cataloging the collections for the University museum.

There was confusion about the instructional program, which was resolved when Kroeber, sorting through mixed signals from Wheeler and Putnam (and with Boas, later, strongly in opposition), decided to offer a regular course on “North American Ethnology” in Spring 1902, rather than just the series of public lectures that had been projected and approved by Hearst.

By September 1903, an Executive Committee chaired by Putnam replaced the Honorary Advisory Committee; six courses were offered by Kroeber, Goddard and Merriam; and substantial progress had been made cataloging and housing the collections in temporary quarters in Berkeley and San Francisco. An ambitious “Ethnological and Archaeological Survey of California” and publication series in Graeco-Roman and Egyptian archaeology and American archaeology and ethnology were announced, much of which was not fully accomplished for decades.

In 1904, the Department’s first crisis loomed. Hearst, who had promised full funding through 1906, suddenly announced her need to reduce her personal monthly expenditures by $16,000, thereby forcing her to reduce her University benefactions.

Video of Samuel Barrett interviewing Alfred Kroeber

Samuel Barrett interviewing Alfred Kroeber

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