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

Section 4 Composite
Kroeber, letters, Goddard

View Early Departmental Records
Letter from Franz Boas to A.L. Kroeber

Franz Boas

Letter to A. L. Kroeber

18 October 1901

Boas, unable to attend the planning session at Hearst’s Pleasanton estate and sidelined to the Honorary Advisory Committee, did not hesitate to offer his advice and criticism to Putnam, Wheeler, Kroeber and, most likely, anyone else who would listen. After a report from Putnam on the September meetings of the founders and the Regents, Boas wrote Kroeber to offer his own view of what Putnam had called “an elastic organization.” To Boas, it was a “scheme,” and one that he had little taste for:

“I confess that the whole matter – what he [Putnam] has done, and what is being planned there – is entirely dark to me. So far as I can judge, a most heterogeneous mass of work has simply been thrown together without any method or plan.”

BANC MSS C-B 925 Ctn 9:26

Letter from Frederic Ward Putnam to P.A. HearstLetter from Frederic Ward Putnam to P.A. Hearst

Frederic Ward Putnam

Letter to P. A. Hearst

2 May 1902

“P.S. Strictly confidential … I wonder if the thought may not come that you would like for me to give a good part of my time to the bringing about the further development of the Department ….”

Putnam, nominally in charge of the Department, was also heading two other major museum programs in New York and Cambridge, as well as holding a professorship at Harvard. Wheeler wanted to establish the Department on a firmer footing with a graduate program. He offered Putnam the position of departmental chair and museum director in April 1902. Initially Putnam demurred, yet less than a month later he indirectly offered himself -- not to Wheeler but to Hearst.

BANC MSS 72/204 c Ctn 42

Frederic Ward Putnam: Department of Anthropology, University of California

Frederic Ward Putnam

Department of Anthropology, University of California

September 1903

Putnam describes the permanent department as he envisions it, guided by an Executive Committee consisting of Putnam, Wheeler, Hearst, and Merriam, and including Officers of Instruction and the Museum. The work of the Department is summarized as an “Ethnological and Archaeological Survey of California.” Much of the archaeological work, however, would not be accomplished until the California Archaeological Survey was established by Robert Heizer in 1948.

full transcription

CU-1 Ctn 33:2a

Alfred L. Kroeber: First Annual Report, To the Honorary Advisory Committee

Alfred L. Kroeber

To the Honorary Advisory Committee

8 November 1902

In his first annual report, Kroeber outlined the work he had accomplished and plans for further development. He described extensive field work among the Yuki, Pomo, and Yurok tribes of Northern California describing the latter as offering “perhaps the most favorable opportunities for research of any in the state.” He also gives first mention of his desire to bring native informants to Berkeley, where it would be easier to collect and study their culture and language while teaching and building a graduate program at the University.

Describing the department’s first course which he had given in the Spring semester, he remarked:

“I made the course as practical and technical as I thought advisable. Intending it primarily for men who might make anthropology their profession. I gave no lectures, but assigned considerable reading …. As far as possible I used the collections in the museum to illustrate the reading. ”

BANC MSS C-B 925 Ctn 1:1

Letter from A.L Kroeber to F.W. Putnam

Alfred Louis Kroeber

Letter to F. W. Putnam

4 March 1904

“It is certain that the situation as regards the future is very serious. I do not think it is hopeless…. I suspect that Mr. Clark [Hearst’s cousin and business manager] may be only waiting for the ordering and recording of the collections to be completed, to wind the Department up…. The thing that can save us and give us the renewed opening for developing a great institution, is to have work going on when that time comes….”

In this prescient letter, Kroeber notes that when the cataloging of Hearst’s collections was completed in 1906 her primary objective in funding the Department will have been met. He craftily proposes, therefore, to launch new projects that will be just beginning to bear fruit in 1906 and, perhaps, attract continued funding by Hearst. He adds, notably, possibly reflecting Boas’s continued influence,

“The general impression now about the University, and for that matter in a measure in the East, is that our end is settled and only a question of time.”

BANC MSS C-B 925 Ctn 1:6

Letter from Frederic Ward Putnam to A.L. Kroeber

Frederic Ward Putnam

Letter to A. L. Kroeber

31 May 1904

“She has told me the whys and wherefors, the sum total of which is that her income is reduced some $16,000 a month ….”

Here Putnam breaks the difficult news to Kroeber: Hearst intends to severely reduce her support two years before Kroeber anticipated. In another communication that would have been even more disturbing to Kroeber, it was revealed that Hearst had suggested it would be better to let Kroeber go and keep Goddard (with whom Kroeber had a personal conflict) because the latter had a family to support.

The reason for Hearst’s retrenchment is not specified in documents in the Bancroft collections. However, it is known that her income from mining operations had been reduced at the same time her son and heir, William Randolph Hearst, had begun drawing heavily on his share of his father’s estate (which his mother closely controlled) to pay for political campaigns for Congress and mayor in New York and to purchase newspapers in Chicago and New York.

After her son’s marriage in 1903 and the birth of his first son in 1904, Hearst became the mainstay of her son’s family. She paid the rent on their New York apartment, provided a monthly income of $10,000, and built a guest house for the family at her Pleasanton “hacienda.”

Eventually, Hearst extended her support for the department through 1908, although on a reduced basis.

CU-23 Ctn 123