Foundations of Anthropology at the University of California   Seal of The University of California
Section 5 composite

Section 5 Composite
McCown, Mohave music, Waterman

V
Research
The final achievement, that which will bring credit to the University and to Mrs. Hearst, the end to which everything else, collections, men, and institutions are only the means, is research.
A. L. Kroeber, 5 February 1908
I

In 1901, anthropology as a discipline was still in its infancy in the United States. The rise of anthropology in the mid-1800s in Europe marked a growing appreciation for the interplay of the cultural and the biological in human life. Under the intellectual influence of Franz Boas, in particular, the discipline became strongly rooted in American soil. He helped American anthropologists understand that cultural diversity developed as a result of the specific context of environment and history in which a culture evolved. As such, no one culture or people could be deemed inherently “better” than any other.

Noting that people had always been interested in other peoples and cultures, Kroeber would later state in his introductory textbook on the subject that the development and maturity of anthropology came about only after “the biological and social sciences had both attained enough organized development to come into serious contact.” It was at this intellectual and scientific nexus that anthropology developed as the “science of man” to focus interest and efforts on documentation and understanding of the cultural, linguistic, and physical diversity of humans in both the past and present.

As anthropology continued to develop as a discipline, so too did the methods and goals of research and instruction within these subfields. The Department’s scholars -- their research, instruction, and collections -- played a signal role in this development. For example, the work of practitioners in California helped move anthropology away from a museum focus on collections, classification, and display, into the field. Kroeber was among the first to emphasize the importance of firsthand ethnographic work, a holistic “four-field” method, and an empirical approach to the data.

Today, anthropology is generally conceived to encompass four broad, articulating subdisciplines: (1) cultural anthropology; (2) linguistic anthropology; (3) archaeology; and (4) biological (or physical) anthropology.

Samuel Alfred Barrett (1879-1965)

Samuel Alfred Barrett (1879-1965)

Barrett developed his interest in California Indian cultures growing up in the Ukiah area. As an undergraduate at the University where he helped finance his education through the purchase and sale of native baskets, he refined his anthropological interests and in 1908 received the Department’s first Ph. D. He pursued a distinguished career as director of the Milwaukee Public Museum and after retirement returned to the University where he conducted a documentary film project on native peoples of western North America.

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Anna Hadwick Gayton (1899-1977)

Gayton came to the University as an undergraduate and in 1928 became the first woman to receive the Ph. D. in anthropology. Her interests included archaeological collections of Peruvian pottery and Yokuts and Western Mono culture. Although she continued to research and publish following her graduation, her formal academic career did not begin until 1948, when she returned to the University as lecturer, then professor, of Decorative Arts. She was also Curator of Textiles in the Museum.

Edward Winslow Gifford (1887-1959)

Having ended his formal education in high school, Gifford worked his way up to become professor in the Department by 1945. His academic career began in 1904, serving as assistant curator at the California Academy of Sciences, where he met Kroeber. He came to the University in 1912 and began ethnographic field research in the central Sierra Nevada and elsewhere. He began teaching in 1917 and initiated his major research in the Pacific basin in the 1920s. Gifford succeeded Kroeber as Museum director in 1947.

Robert Fleming Heizer (1915-1979)

Robert Fleming Heizer (1915-1979)

Heizer came to the University in the 1930s after studying archaeology with Sacramento Junior College President Jeremiah B. Lillard, one of the first to study the archaeology of California’s delta region in a systematic fashion. Heizer received his B.A. at the University, followed by his Ph. D. in 1941. After working in the Richmond shipyards during World War II, he taught briefly at UCLA before joining the Department in 1946. He was appointed professor in 1952.

Robert F. Heizer (second from left) and field crew, Nevada

Robert F. Heizer (second from left) and field crew, Nevada

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Robert Harry Lowie (1883-1957)

Robert Harry Lowie (1883-1957)

Born in Vienna and raised in New York City, Lowie completed his undergraduate education at City College and received his Ph. D. from Columbia under Franz Boas. He worked at the American Museum of Natural History, conducting field research among the Crow and other Plains Indians. He joined the Department in 1921, retiring as professor in 1950. These photographs are from a family album.

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Theodore Doney McCown (1908-1969)

Theodore Doney McCown (1908-1969)

McCown came to the University as an undergraduate and finished his Ph. D. in anthropology in 1939; he joined the faculty in 1938 and spent his entire career in the Department. His research was an analysis of pre-modern human skeletal remains from Mt. Carmel in Palestine, conducted in collaboration with Sir Arthur Keith. Later, he focused on fossil evidence for human evolution in India.

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Lila Morris O’Neale (1886-1948)

Lila Morris O’Neale (1886-1948)

After receiving undergraduate degrees from Stanford and Columbia, O’Neale came to the University in 1926 as a graduate student in household arts, a department focused on the history and design of textiles and clothing, jewelry and metalwork, pottery and implements, and interior design. Her interests led her to graduate work in anthropology where she initially studied the ancient textiles gathered for Hearst by Max Uhle in Peru. Her dissertation treated the basketry of the Yurok and Karok tribes. She received the Ph. D. in 1930 and served as Professor of Decorative Art and Associate Curator of Textiles in the Museum.

Lila Morris O’Neale (1886-1948)

Lila O’Neale and Nellie Cooper, Yurok basketweaver

Klamath River region, 1929

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Sherwood L. Washburn (1911-2000)

Sherwood L. Washburn (1911-2000)

Born in Massachusetts, Washburn earned his B. A. and Ph. D. in anthropology at Harvard in 1935 and 1940. He began his career at Chicago in 1947; in 1958 he came to the University at McCown’s invitation. He retired in 1978. Washburn was instrumental in shifting the focus of physical anthropology from a preoccupation with typology of racial types to an evolutional adaptive approach to documenting and understanding human physical variation and behavior. He demonstrated the importance of primate behavior studies to anthropology.

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Thomas Talbot Waterman (1885-1936)

Waterman came to the University as an undergraduate to study Hebrew, with the intention of entering the clergy. His interest in language brought him to the Department; he went on to receive his Ph. D. in anthropology under Franz Boas at Columbia in 1910, and began teaching at the University of California that year. He was especially close to Ishi, the Yahi native informant. Waterman became associate professor in 1920 but left in 1921; his last position was at the University of Hawaii.

Thomas Talbot Waterman (1885-1936)

Thomas Talbot Waterman demonstrating phonetic machine, 1914

Anthropologists in the Department actively pursued the development and use of new technologies to record native language and culture. In this photograph, Waterman demonstrates a “phonetic machine” to record and graphically depict the sounds of speech.

Courtesy P. A. Hearst Museum

Video: Interview with Samuel Alfred Barrett

Interview with Samuel Alfred Barrett

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Video: Theodore McCown: Mt. Carmel Man

Video: Theodore McCown: Mt. Carmel Man

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Video: World’s Oldest Human Cemetery:

Video: McCown: World’s Oldest Human Cemetery:

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Video: Sites in Peru

Video: McCown: Sites in Peru

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