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Historical ethnology


Cross-cultural studies


Ethnology is generally regarded as one of the major subdivisions of cultural anthropology, the others being anthropological archeology and anthropological linguistics. Anthropology is prefixed to the latter two terms because they refer to the archeology and linguistics largely of preliterate and preindustrial peoples. The archeology of classical Greece and the linguistics of contemporary France would rarely, if ever, be taught in an anthropology department. The claim that anthropology embraces all peoples past and present has been exaggerated by some anthropologists, although the present trend, especially in ethnology, is toward giving attention to a wider range of peoples. In the United States today, but less so in Europe, ethnology is joined to social anthropology. [see ANTHROPOLOGY, articles on CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY and SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY.]

Interesting insight into the scope of ethnology can be gained by looking at the names of early anthropological societies. In 1843 the Ethnological Society was founded in England, and in that same year it published the first edition of its guide to field work, an inventory of data to be obtained. This guide included some material on all fields of anthropology but gave the most space to social anthropology. In 1863 the Anthropological Society was founded in England; this was a group of former members of the Ethnological Society who wanted to stress political issues, such as slavery, more heavily. In 1871 the two societies joined to form the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, to which name the word “Royal” was prefixed in 1907. In the United States, the American Ethnological Society was founded in 1842, the Anthropological Society of Washington in 1879, and the American Anthropological Association in 1902. In France, the Societe Ethnologique de Paris was established in 1838 and the Societe d’Anthropologie de Paris in 1858. In Germany, the Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie, und Urgeschichte was founded in 1869.

It is clear from these examples that “ethnology” was used as a blanket term to cover the entire range of the subject we now label “anthropology” and that the latter term came to be used in the wider sense at a later date. Through much of the nineteenth century the concepts of biological race, language, and culture were confused; one was inferred from the other, and reconstructions of human development combined all three aspects. Ethnology was historically oriented from the start and attempted to account for extant races, languages, and cultures in terms of migration, diffusion, and other historical processes [see DIFFUSION].

In the twentieth century, “ethnology” has come to mean the comparative study of documented and contemporary cultures and has largely excluded their bioanthropology, archeology, and linguistics. “Ethnography,” in contrast, is best used to describe the study of the culture of a single tribe or society; but because almost all ethnographies make comparisons at least with neighboring peoples, the distinction between ethnography and ethnology is not sharp and may be compared to that between geography and geology. This article is limited almost completely to comparative ethnology.

Oscar Lewis (1956) gives an excellent idea of the contemporary scope of comparative ethnology. Comparisons may range from two ethnic units (societies) to hundreds, the largest sample so far being Murdock’s “Ethnographic Atlas” (Murdock et al. 1962–1966), which is approaching one thousand ethnic units. They may deal with a few adjacent peoples, or a larger number in a culture area, a continent, a hemisphere, or the entire world. The content to be compared may vary from a single culture element to a long list of elements and assemblages of them covering practically every aspect of culture. Verne Ray’s list of 7,633 culture elements for the plateau area of North America (1942) is the longest enumerated list so far, and Murdock’s world-wide “Ethnographic Atlas” has reached nearly one thousand culture trait categories. Data for comparison may be based on library research, field research, or a combination of the two. The purpose of comparisons may be limited to uncovering the range and kind of variations for the subject at hand and to locating them in space and time; or it may be aimed at establishing culture area groupings, cross-cultural regularities, evolutionary trends, or other hypotheses. The research design may range all the way from a few illustrations of loose-jointed generalizations to a rigid statistical method.

The subject coverage of ethnology includes that of social anthropology and sociology, but it is much broader. For instance, ethnology also includes technology and crafts, plastic and graphic arts, music, dancing, oral literature, dream analysis, religion, world view, ethics, and ethnomedicine. For a much longer list of the subject content of ethnology, see the Outline of Cultural Materials (Yale Univ. 1938).

The dominant trend in nineteenth-century ethnology–social anthropology was an evolutionary explanation of how things came to be as they are. In its most extreme form, unilinear evolution, it was assumed that culture change came about largely from causes operating within single societies and that all peoples would, sooner or later, evolve through a half-dozen or more stages of development in the same sequence if their progress were not interrupted by some catastrophe, such as military invasion by an alien power [see EVOLUTION, article on CULTURAL EVOLUTION].

Historical ethnology

Toward the end of the nineteenth century two schools of ethnology were founded, one by Boas in the United States and the other by Ratzel and Frobenius in Germany. Both schools emphasized the historical processes of diffusion and migration. Boas’ best demonstrations of the process of relay diffusion are to be found in his comparative studies of North American Indian folklore (1895; 1916). By tracing motifs and tale types among groups of contiguous tribes, he showed the overwhelming tendency of these phenomena to cluster into areal types which crosscut language-family boundaries, thus suggesting diffusion. If such material were independently invented over and over again, tribes separated by great distances would exhibit as many resemblances in folklore as neighboring tribes do; but because contiguous tribes shared much more folklore inventory than distant tribes did, diffusion was the obvious explanation.

Boas’ diffusion emphasis was most fully developed by A. L. Kroeber and by Clark Wissler, trained as a psychologist but long curator of anthropology in the American Museum of Natural History. Although the earliest American culture area scheme was that of Livingstone Farrand (1904), his work had less impact than that of Kroeber and Wissler. In 1904 Kroeber was the first to classify California Indian cultures, and in 1906 Wissler was the first to mention major North American areas. Wissler (1917) published the first map of culture areas for the hemisphere, and Kroeber (1923) followed Wissler closely in a parallel scheme. In these and later works both authors postulated that the most significant aspects of culture in each area arose at the center and tended to diffuse outward toward the margins. On the assumption that all aspects of culture diffused at about the same rate, the age-area hypothesis, by which the age of a culture trait or complex was determined by the extent of its geographical distribution, was employed by both men.

In addition to the scheme of 15 culture areas for the two American continents endorsed by both men, each also regarded the area from Mexico to Peru as the culture center of a vast Pan-American culture area. Kroeber (1923, fig. 35) presented a large histogram in which the supposedly oldest traits occurred at the bottom, as in archeological stratification, and the youngest at the top. Age was determined largely by the extent of geographical distribution, but typological complexity was also taken into account, as well as a little direct sequential evidence from archeology. Although the horizontal dimension represented dispersal of the culture elements by diffusion and migration, the vertical dimension clearly showed an evolution from the simple to the complex. Thus, in Mexico the sequence included basketry, shamanism, and family groups in the earliest level; then patrilineal clans, simple weaving frame, domesticated plants, pottery, solstitial calendar, stone buildings, town life, cotton growing and loom weaving, matrilineal clans, textile clothing, priesthood, confederacy, sculpture, metallurgy, markets, human sacrifice, temples, empire, mathematics, astronomy, cycle calendar, writing, and books, in that order. Kroeber rejected nineteenth-century unilinear evolution and the theory of many independent origins of cultural resemblances, but he constructed a new kind of evolution with few independent origins and many diffusions and migrations from tribe to tribe and area to area. The age-area hypothesis demands a sequential arrangement of the material, and when this shows a temporal progression in complexity, it becomes evolutionary.

A major weakness of culture area and age-area theory is that culture areas are of varying sizes. Local developments may originate in the “centers” of small areas and tend to spread toward the margins, but at the same time new culture elements and assemblages may arise in the “centers” of larger culture areas and spread by diffusion or migration to the smaller ones, thus mixing elements of internal and external origin; and still more invention may occur in “centers” of each hemisphere and spread widely throughout many culture areas of different sizes in the same hemisphere. The hope of unscrambling this sort of mixture without the help of archeology and historical linguistics is dim. [see ARCHEOLOGY; HISTORY, article on CULTURE HISTORY; LINGUISTICS, article on HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS.]

Wissler’s derivation of historical inferences from geographical distributions was so bold an attempt that he was heavily criticized, especially by Dixon (1928). Kroeber, in contrast, modified his views as new evidence came to light, and in 1939 he published his well-received “Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America.” This was fundamentally an intuitive scheme of culture areas without detailed supporting geographical or historical evidence. Between the time this book was finished –1931–and the time it was published–1939– Kroeber supervised the University of California Culture Element Survey, which, with the help of 13 field workers, collected responses to questionnaires from old informants in 254 localities in western North America, from the continental divide to the Pacific and from the Mexican border to Alaska. This was aimed at collecting enough data to produce a definitive taxonomy of the nineteenth-century cultures, which Kroeber hoped would lead to a fuller set of interpretations. After all this effort, interest in areal classification ebbed to the extent that no one has yet used this vast quantity of data to produce a much superior areal scheme based on a wealth of specific detail. The largest comparative study incorporating this culture element material is still that of Driver (1941), who limited his subject coverage to girls’ puberty rites [see CULTURE AREA; KROEBER; WISSLER].

In Germany, Friedrich Ratzel (1887) introduced the “criterion of form,” which argued that all specific resemblances in the form of two or more museum objects, other than those determined by the material from which they were made or the use to which they were put, must be explained by a single origin and subsequent diffusion to the localities from which the museum specimens were obtained in the field, no matter how widely separated these localities might be. This was a much more extreme diffusionist position than that of Boas, Boas’ pupils, or even Wissler. Frobenius (1898) was the first to use the term Kulturkreis, best translated as “culture area” or “culture region”; he also introduced the criterion of quantity, which argued that the larger the number of arbitrary resemblances not due to the nature of the material or the use to which the object was put, the stronger the case for diffusion.

Two early applications of the Kulturkreis rules for determining areal clusters, time sequences, and dispersal, those of Graebner (1905) and Ankermann (1905), were fairly well received and not much less tenable than the works of Wissler. They, too, emphasized material culture and arranged their data in a series of temporal strata, or Schichten. Neither author gave any explicit technique for packaging culture elements into Kreise or Schichten, but Czekanowski (1911) showed clearly that the reality of Ankermann’s two African Kreise could be demonstrated with a correlation technique. Using Yule’s Q coefficient, Czekanowski intercorrelated Ankermann’s 17 traits of material culture among 47 African tribes and arranged the correlations in a single matrix which clearly showed two distinct intertrait clusters. When mapped, these clusters yielded a twofold areal classification, which conformed to Ankermann’s intuitive grouping.

Although no one today subscribes to the idea of single origin and subsequent world-wide dispersal by migration and diffusion of any of the Kreise or Schichten of, say, Schmidt and Koppers (1924), some of the correlations and functional associations of the Kreise and Schichten have been confirmed or repostulated by later researchers of different schools. For example, the correlation between moieties and matrilineal descent, challenged by Lowie (1937, p. 182), has been confirmed by Murdock (1949, p. 49). The functional complex of hoe farming by women, matrilocal residence, matrilineal descent, monogamy, and bride service, and the temporal sequence from division of labor to residence to descent has been confirmed or postulated by Murdock (1949), Driver (1956), and Aberle (1961).

The world-wide inferred temporal strata of the Kulturkreis school produce an evolution which differs from that of the nineteenth century in calling for single origins or a very small number of independent origins and subsequent dispersal of the phenomena by migration and diffusion; but since such dispersals are multiple, they overlap each other geographically and produce a “layer cake” of temporal stages. Kroeber and Wissler confined their postulated dispersals to a culture area or a hemisphere for the most part, while Schmidt and Koppers more often included the entire world [see GRAEBNER; KOPPERS; RATZEL; SCHMIDT].

Kroeber’s interest in culture areas and diffusion stimulated Clements (Clements et al. 1926; Clements 1928; 1931) and Driver (see Driver & Kroeber 1932) to determine areal groupings of ethnic units by intercorrelating their inventories of culture traits. These papers were read by three young men in Europe who were familiar with Kulturkreis theory and the intertrait correlations of Czekanowski (1911). Almost simultaneously they published four papers which combined the intertrait correlations of Czekanowski with the intertribe correlations of Kroeber, Clements, and Driver (Furer-Haimendorf 1934; Klimek 1935; Milke 1935; Klimek & Milke 1935). They computed the coefficient Q<, for three sets of traits: intertribe, intertrait, and tribal cluster with trait cluster. All three assembled their coefficients in rectangular matrices and converted them to shades of gray (as Czekanowski had done in 1911) for quick comprehension. They also mapped their clusters. Interpretation of the resemblances and the groupings was limited to historical factors, but because all of these studies were confined to small regions of culture area size, this wholesale historical explanation was probably not far from the truth although incomplete. A simplified explanation in English of their technique may be found in Driver (1961).

Knowledge of statistical mechanics was so scant among ethnologists of both schools that few at the time understood that these studies integrated the approaches of the American culture area and the German Kulturkreis schools. They offered an objective method for determining both intertribal (culture area) and intertrait (Kulturschicht-Kulturkreis) groupings. If every writer in these schools had empirically demonstrated his intertribal and intertrait groupings in this manner, the differences between the schools would have been less marked and much useless polemic would not have been written. Differences in interpretation of the data grouped in these ways still exist, but the reality of the groupings themselves could have been established objectively.

Driver, in his “Girls’ Puberty Rites in Western North America” (1941), used a multiple clustering technique parallel to that of the Europeans, but his interpretation of the results went beyond any of that group. His area was larger and posed more problems of interpretation. He distinguished several kinds of resemblances: universals, cultural heritages spread by migrations, relayed diffusions, and convergences. He pointed out (1) that elements of universal or near universal occurrence should not be used to establish historical connection between ethnic units in limited areas; (2) that elements closely associated with a language family might be regarded as a cultural heritage from the protoculture associated with the protolanguage of the group; (3) that continuously distributed resemblances which crossed over language-family boundaries were best regarded as diffusions; and (4) that the group ceremony for pubescent girls among the Apacheans represented an independent origin and a convergence with that held in southern California. He also wrote a chapter on the psychological aspects of menstrual taboos, described the functional position and significance of the girls’ puberty rite in each of the subareas into which the entire area had been divided, and assessed the influence of geographical environment on the data.


In addition to the American and German historical schools just described, there arose in the early part of this century the functional schools, which rebelled against not only the nineteenth-century unilinear evolutionists but also the culture historicalists. Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown are both identified as functionalists, although some significant divergences exist. Malinowski was generally both antihistorical and anticomparative, while Radcliffe-Brown was antihistorical (except in his later years) but never anticomparative. For this reason the latter figures more prominently in comparative ethnology and will be singled out for brief appraisal here.

Radcliffe-Brown discovered a number of generalizations that would now be called correlations. One of the earliest (1913) was his discovery that preferred marriage to a first cross-cousin was associated with kinship terminology of one type, while preferred marriage to a second cross-cousin was found with kinship terminology of another type. This and other perfect or high correlations are given in his important The Social Organization of Australian Tribes (1931), where he used the term “correlation” but did not compute any coefficients. In 1935 he wrote: “. . . we can expect to find, in the majority of human societies, a fairly close correlation between the terminological classification of kindred or relatives and the social classification,” as revealed “in the attitudes and behavior of relatives to one another” (Radcliffe-Brown 1935, p. 531). His greatest contribution lies in the emphasis on this relationship.

The principal opponent of Radcliffe-Brown was Kroeber, who said:

Kin-term systems, . . . are subject to modification from within and without. There is always a sufficient number of such “accidents” to disguise the basic patterns more or less. . . . the essential features of the pattern are . . . likely to be the ones which have the greatest historic depth. The search for them therefore implies a willingness and ability to view data historically. Without such willingness, it is as good as impossible to separate the significant from the trivial . . . and the work done becomes merely sociological, an affair of schemes. . . . (Kroeber 1934, pp. 21–22)

This position is echoed by E. W. GifFord, a colleague of Kroeber, who wrote: “… kinship systems are first of all linguistic phenomena … and only secondarily social phenomena. As such they … constitute an archaic and highly refractory nucleus, which yields unevenly and only here and there to influences from … social structure” (Gifford 1940, pp. 193–194). Kroeber (1936) modified his view in the direction of that of Radcliffe-Brown in a conciliatory paper, and a year later (1937) made the first reconstruction of a protokinship terminology for a language family.

No historian of ethnological thought has yet pointed out that the opposing views of Radcliffe-Brown and Kroeber stem directly from the areas with which each was most familiar. The kinship terminologies and social organization of native Australia are among the most highly integrated of any in the world. High correlations are the rule rather than the exception. California native cultures, in contrast, are among the least integrated in this respect, and correlations are low or nonexistent, as Tax (1937), a pupil of Radcliffe-Brown, showed in an excellent and very thorough study. Australia remained one of the most isolated areas in the world, with little contact with the outside, while California, in contrast, has been exposed to contact on all sides except the Pacific, and the multiplicity of language families and phyla suggests much migration into and out of the area. Australian social organizations and languages had centuries and millennia to simmer down and become integrated, while those of California were constantly being disturbed by intrusions from without. Radcliffe-Brown and Kroeber both failed to understand the limitations of their samples, and it was not until Murdock’s Social Structure (1949) that an adequate sample and statistical technique were combined to produce more tenable generalizations on this subject [see KINSHIP].

Cross-cultural studies

In the United States cross-cultural studies were founded by G. P. Murdock and carried on by his pupils, including J. W. M. Whiting, Whiting’s pupils, and others. Murdock has concentrated on kinship and social organization, and his Social Structure (1949) is a monumental work in its field. He studied the association between rules of marriage, residence, and descent, as well as kinship terminology, in 250 societies in all the major areas of the world. He used no explicit sampling technique, but his selection was large and widely distributed, and his results have not been seriously challenged to date. Using functional theory, he ran off a list of hypotheses and then confirmed most of them with the Q coefficient of association and chi-square. His general conclusions were that the semantic categories of kinship terms are the result of social organization rather than the cause, and that they are determined principally by forms of marital residence and rules of descent. Marriage prescriptions showed practically no correlation with kinship terminology, while residence and descent yielded many significant correlations.

Murdock further postulated three kinds of developmental cycles, two of which began with the dominance of one sex in the economy, followed by corresponding forms of residence, descent, and kinship terminology. Thus a patri-dominated economy would give rise to patrilocal residence, patrilineal descent, and Iroquoian or Omaha kinship categories. In a similar fashion a matri-dominated economy would produce matrilocal residence, matrilineal descent, and Iroquoian or Crow kinship classification. A sexually balanced economy, in turn, would give rise to bilocal residence, bilateral descent, and Eskimo or Hawaiian kinship terminology. This cyclical theory was confirmed statistically by Driver (1956), who found that the correlations based on about 250 North American peoples could be arranged in a matrix which could be explained in this way. However, Driver failed to measure the potency of genetic factors at this time, although he did so in 1966 in a more methodologically rigorous study (Driver 1966).

Whiting and his followers have centered their interests in the socialization process, the ways and means by which a child acquires the culture in which he is born and reared. The basic work in this field is Whiting and Child (1953). Before their work, good field studies in this subject were so rare that the authors were able to assemble fewer than fifty societies for their comparisons. They used no sampling technique because the total number of tribes was so small, but since every continental area in the world, plus Oceania, was represented, their sample is a rough approximation to a random one. Three “judges” carefully read the same field reports and coded the various societies independently on multistep rating scales. The published ratings are the scores of all three judges combined by summation.

Whiting and Child tested a number of neo-Freudian hypotheses with this method. For instance, they divided severity of socialization into the following five aspects, each of which was rated separately by each of the “judges”: anal, oral, sexual, dependence, aggression. The ratings on these five aspects were intercorrelated, and the highest positive correlation turned out to be that between the oral and dependence aspects. These ratings were also correlated with other aspects of culture; for instance, amount of oral socialization anxiety correlated with presence of oral explanations of illness showed a high degree of relationship. On the other hand, they found a zero correlation between anal socialization anxiety and anal explanations of illness. [see SOCIALIZATION.]

A later and more transparent study by Whiting, Kluckhohn, and Anthony (1958) revealed a positive correlation between male initiation ceremonies at puberty, patrilocal residence, exclusive mother–infant sleeping arrangements, and a long post partum sex taboo. These variables are also positively correlated with a long lactation period and other kinds of long and close association of the infant with the mother. The authors’ explanation was that the resulting strong attachment to the mother had to be broken by an initiation rite which separated the boy from his mother entirely and prepared him for an adult masculine role. Societies which lacked the long and close association of mother and young son did not need an initiation because there was no strong attachment to sever. Although the results achieved so far in this difficult field of psychological ethnology are less impressive than those in the field of social organization, the difference is due to the inherent complexities of the problems and the scarcity of field material rather than to methodology.

These cross-cultural studies of world-wide scope stem from the evolutionary interests of the nineteenth century. When Tylor (1888) read his now famous paper in which he anticipated correlation methods, Francis Gallon challenged the historical independence of Tylor’s 350 cases (societies). Tylor’s use of probabilities and his conclusion that, for instance, mother-in-law–son-in-law avoidance was caused by matrilocal residence implied that this form of residence occurred first in each society and that it gave rise to this form of avoidance independently over and over again in each society where the avoidance was found. This is a functional-causal-evolutionary explanation. When such explanations include the Oedipus complex or the incest taboo, they may be called psychofunctional-causal-evolutionary. The contrasting explanation has been called geographical-historical, historical, or genetic; it holds that once a custom becomes established, it may be relayed from society to society by means of intermarriage and other kinds of contact. It is not necessary to postulate any necessary antecedent because a behavior may spread like a fashion. Continuity of geographical distribution is generally regarded as evidence of such diffusion. Tylor failed to provide an answer to the question Gallon raised, and it plagued cross-cullural research until the 1950s.

Stephens in 1959 paired his 56 societies on the basis of membership in the same genetic language family and geographical proximity, and he concluded that geographical–historical factors determined about as much association as did psycho-functional ones. Landauer and Whiting (1964) compared, in a similar way, associations found within culture areas with those found across culture areas and concluded that the latter were relatively free of historical factors. Raoul Naroll (1961) and Naroll and D’Andrade (1963) have developed other specific techniques to show the effect of genetic versus psychofunctional-evolutionary factors on correlations. Their general conclusion is that both kinds of explanations must be used to account for most correlations and that they are of about equal potency. Cultural behaviors with functional or causal relationships, such as unilateral descent, cross-cousin marriage, and corresponding types of kinship terminology, tend to diffuse as a unit; or if part of such an assemblage is already present, the other members will diffuse more readily because they are compatible with it. Thus both internal and external factors determine the cultural inventory of societies.

Driver (1966) employed still another method and found that genetic factors were a little more powerful than psychofunctional-evolutionary ones but that both were at work. He used a sample of 277 peoples from native North America alone and postulated only four or five historically independent origins of the kin avoidances, which formed the subject of his study. This was determined by a combination of areal clustering, culture-area membership, and language-family affiliation. If other areas show a similar number of origins, this would add up to no more than about twenty for the world. With only twenty cases for a test of the significance of correlations involving kin avoidances, it would require a rather high correlation to achieve significance. Many of the cross-cultural correlations so far computed, for which significance is claimed on the assumption of the historical independence of every positive instance, would by this criterion be judged to be not significant at all.

The principal weakness of most cross-cultural studies so far is that their instances hop, skip, and jump across the map in such a manner that continuity of geographical distribution and other clues to genetic explanations are missing. A world-wide study of a well-reported subject, such as kinship behavior, would require data from at least a thousand societies in order to insure sufficient geographical continuity to permit valid inferences about the number of independent origins of the phenomena. This has not yet been achieved.

Although significant positive correlations in cross-cultural research are relatively easy to find, causal relationships are more difficult to establish, and the direction of causation is still more elusive. Nevertheless, progress has been made in this respect. The direction of causation and sequence of stages in evolution have been determined by constructing a Guttman cumulative scale (Carneiro & Tobias 1963), and the direction of cycling by arranging correlations in a temporal matrix (Driver 1956; Ascher & Ascher 1963; Blalock 1960).

Naroll (1964) has drawn attention to the many problems surrounding the nature of the ethnic unit used in cross-cultural research. Because this is the unit counted in all intertrait cross-cultural correlations, its definition is crucial to such studies. Although there were more differences than agreements in the comments on this article, the major issues are now aboveboard, and refinements of definitions of ethnic units will surely follow. The nature of culture traits or variables also needs to be re-evaluated.

Coult and Habenstein (1965) give over 500 pages of cross tabulations of raw frequencies, phi-coefficients, and tests of significance for the 210 culture categories and 565 ethnic units of Murdock’s 1957 sample.

Textor (1966) offers a still more massive package of similar measures computed largely from the data of Murdock’s 1962–1966 sample. These two compilations provide important sources of reference to tens of thousands of relationships which can test many hypotheses, but they are so myopic that they may obscure some of the broader relationships within the data.

Sawyer and Levine (1966) have reduced Murdock’s 1957 sample to thirty variables, intercorrelated and factor-analyzed these variables, and produced some compact generalizations about the whole sample which run only to article length. They have also run the same correlations separately for each of the six areas into which Murdock divided the world and have found rather marked areal differences. Some correlations are significantly positive in one area and significantly negative in another, or zero in one area and significantly positive or negative in another. Such areal differences can only be explained by ecological and historical factors. They cast doubt on the importance of universal “laws” or regularities but do not demolish such concepts entirely. What is needed next is a series of correlation studies intermediate between the highly particularized computer print-outs and the grosser generalizations.

It is thus apparent that recent studies have made considerable gains in understanding both genetic and evolutionary relationships and in the statistical rigor with which these relationships have been demonstrated. Although few ethnologists claim that their explanations of relationships among the cultures of nonliterate peoples are of timeless infallibility, validation of hypotheses has reached a respectable level which compares favorably with that of other behavioral sciences.




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views updated Jun 11 2018


Today the term "ethnology" refers to cultural anthropology, the comparative and analytical study of cultures. However, the term in nineteenth-century parlance was much more comprehensive. A branch of the natural sciences, ethnology dealt with the division of humans into races as well as their origin, distribution, relations, and characteristics.

Ethnology, or the "natural history of man" as it was called, was in its formative stage during the ante-bellum period. Its roots were in Europe with the work of the German physiologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), who divided humans anatomically into five main races. Nineteenth-century American ethnologists approached their subjects in one of two ways: one approach focused on cultural aspects, particularly language, traditions, and material culture; and the other addressed the biological disparities in humans, principally bone structure, size, and skin color. The respective findings had differing implications for understanding the origin and relationship of the races. The first group, the "environmentalists," attributed racial differences to climatic and other environmental forces. The other camp concluded that the races were so physically different that they could not possibly have originated as biblically described and therefore each race must have had a separate origin.

Politically, some ethnological findings provided "scientific" justification for slavery, particularly as new states were entering the Union and their status as a slave or free state needed to be defined, and for the treatment of some Native American tribes—their removal, subjugation, and decimation. However, the ethnological implications went beyond these debates to questions of whether the human species was divided into superior and inferior races and whether the account of creation in Genesis was accurate.

This new science of race found an interested American public and became part of the antebellum cultural climate. Ideas derived from ethnological studies—racial theories, Native American tales, excavation reports, missionary descriptions, travel narratives—found an eager audience. They were disseminated in newspapers, magazines, reviews, lectures, governmental reports, and works of fiction and poetry. For many literary writers, the scientific findings and dialogues emerging from ethnology became the creative impetus for popular and canonical works.


Disease, relocation, and extermination of Native Americans created a sense of urgency in many antebellum Americans to record tribes' rapidly disappearing cultures. Albert Gallatin (1761–1849), a statesman and diplomat, began collecting tribal vocabularies in the 1820s and, once retired, devoted himself full-time to philology. In 1826 Gallatin created the first tribal language map and became the first to designate language groups by a comparative method. A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes . . . in North America (1836) established him as America's leading ethnologist. His classification of North American Indian languages is the basis on which all later classifications of these languages rely. A product of the Enlightenment and a proponent of the environmental approach, he believed that if Native Americans moved to a more agrarian life, they would advance to a civilized station. Meetings of the New-York Historical Society, of which he was president, served as a forum for papers on Native Americans, thereby encouraging an academic interest. Gallatin also formed the American Ethnological Society in 1842 and served as its president.

Another prominent ethnologist, Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881), an attorney by profession, began to research the organization of the Iroquois League in order to duplicate its structure for a secret organization that he had joined. In Albany, New York, he interviewed Tonawanda Seneca chiefs and later visited the Tonawanda reservation for observation in 1845. His interests began with understanding the government and institutions of the Iroquois League and then turned to linguistics, particularly kinship terminology. The fruits of his labor were a series of essays, some delivered as papers at the secret society's chapter meetings and at the New-York Historical Society and published in The American Review in 1847. Collected, these essays became the League of the Ho-de-no-saunee, or Iroquois (1851), still widely read and considered one of the best descriptions of Iroquois society and culture. His later work, Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1870), created analytical tools that form the basis of modern kinship studies; previously these relationships had been described inaccurately in feudalistic terms.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793–1864), who spent thirty years with Native Americans, much of it as an Indian agent, recorded the myths, language, and narratives of the Chippewa and other northern tribes, as well as collecting reports from other sources. His wife Jane, the granddaughter of a Chippewa chief, no doubt provided him access and insight into the language and culture. His six-volume Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (1851–1857) and two-volume Algic Researches (1839) made him an authority on Native Americans at mid-century. Schoolcraft's Anglo-American ethnocentrism, however, clouded his conclusions, such that, as one scholar describes, "the very data his monumental studies provide frequently refute his conclusions" (Mitchell, p. 168). Schoolcraft assumed the cultural and intellectual superiority of the Caucasian race and the eventual subjugation and destruction of the Native American race.

This urgency to preserve Native American cultures before they transformed or completely disappeared spurred amateur collectors by the 1820s, as Lee Clark Mitchell has described. Many self-taught linguists who assembled vocabularies were frontiersmen, boundary commissioners, army personnel, missionaries, and doctors. For example, the Reverend Stephen R. Riggs compiled a series of grammars and vocabularies of northern Plains tribes, published in the 1840s. By the 1840s collectors more commonly recorded the legends and poems of tribes, such as Mary Henderson Eastman's (1880–1887) collection of Dakota Sioux myths. Local societies and museums sprouted up between 1830 and 1880, often as a last effort to preserve disappearing native materials. The underlying assumption, fueled by observation, documentation, and scientific "proof," was the decline and impending extinction of the Native American race.


Perhaps the most infamous aspect of nineteenth-century ethnology was the "scientific" findings of the American School, which unlike other ethnological theories, posited separate creations for the races, or polygeny. Rather than looking for cultural affinities among peoples, these researchers looked for biological disparities. They built upon the German physiologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's cranial classification of the human species into five races: Asian, Aboriginal Indian, Caucasian, Malayan, and Ethiopian. In addition, phrenology, a pseudoscience popular in antebellum America, spread the idea that the shape of the head reflected a person's temperament and moral and intellectual aptitude. Phrenological studies interested intellectuals in the 1820s and were popularized by mid-century. For a set fee one could visit a phrenological establishment, have his or her head read, and receive a phrenological handbook. While the results of the studies were received in the spirit of fun and/or with skepticism, they did serve to proliferate the idea of inherent racial differences. In fact, the December 1850 issue of the American Whig Review described Blumenbach's five racial categories: "these have been too trivialized by our phrenological hornbooks to need repetition in this place. Who has not heard of the Caucasian, Ethiopian, Mongolian, Malayan, and American races?" (Horsman, p. 142).

The Philadelphia physician Samuel G. Morton (1799–1851) looked to bone structure for dividing and characterizing humans. Influenced by phrenological studies and Blumenbach's cranial classifications, Morton worked under the assumption that the larger the cranium, the larger the brain, and therefore the greater the intelligence. In fact, Morton includes an essay by the British phrenologist and lecturer George Combe as the appendix to his magnum opus Crania Americana; or, A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America (1839). In this text, which provided the groundwork for what would become the American School, Morton documents his research of four hundred Native American skulls. He measured internal capacity by filling the skulls with white pepper seed and submitted the skulls to an additional twelve measurements such as longitudinal diameter, horizontal periphery, and facial angles. The book's charts of measurements and lithograph drawings of skulls created the illusion of objectivity and provided the facts for others to use in more overtly political ways. By measuring and comparing ancient and relatively contemporary skulls, Morton concluded that types of races had not changed over the years and thus must have been created separately: "we are left to the reasonable conclusion, that each Race was adapted from the beginning to its peculiar local destination. In other words, it is assumed, that the physical characteristics which distinguish the different Races, are independent of external causes" (p. 3). Morton does not comment directly on the unity or multiplicity of the species; he leaves that for others.

Samuel Morton's Crania Americana provided the groundwork for the American School. While this work does not explicitly state that each race has its own creation, Dr. Morton does argue that races are distinct and adapted to their particular locality from the start; in addition, external circumstances have not affected them. In the essay that begins the book, Morton employs Blumenbach's classification of five races. He then divides humans into twenty-two families, again skirting the issue of separate species. The American Family described below, also called "the barbarous tribes of North America," comprises most of the North American Indians. Here, Morton describes their intellect:

The intellectual faculties of this great family appear to be of a decidedly inferior cast when compared with those of the Caucasian or Mongolian races. They are not only averse to the restraints of education, but for the most part incapable of a continued process of reasoning on abstract subjects. Their minds seize with avidity on simple truths, while they at once reject whatever requires investigation and analysis. Their proximity, for more than two centuries, to European institutions, has made scarcely any appreciable change in their mode of thinking or their manner of life; and as to their own social condition, they are probably in most respects what they were at the primitive epoch of their existence. They have made few or no improvements in building their houses or their boats; their inventive and imitative faculties appear to be of a very humble grade, nor have they the smallest predilection for the arts or sciences. The long annals of missionary labor and private benefaction bestowed upon them, offer but very few exceptions to the preceding statement, which, on the contrary, is sustained by the combined testimony of almost all practical observers. Even in cases where they have received an ample education, and have remained for many years in civilized society, they lose none of their innate love of their own national usages, which they have almost invariably resumed when chance has left them to choose for themselves. Such has been the experience of the Spanish and Portuguese missionaries in South America, and of the English and their descendants in the northern portion of the continent.

However much the benevolent mind may regret the inaptitude of the Indian for civilization, the affirmative of this question seems to be established beyond a doubt. His moral and physical nature are alike adapted to his position among the races of men, and it is as reasonable to expect the one to be changed as the other. The structure of his mind appears to be different from that of the white man, nor can the two harmonise in their social relations except on the most limited scale. Every one knows, however, that the mind expands by culture; nor can we yet tell how near the Indian would approach the Caucasian after education had been bestowed on a single family through several successive generations.

Morton, Crania Americana, pp. 81–82.

While the explicit racism of Morton's ideas is striking to modern readers, the religious heresy of a separate creation for each race shocked contemporaries. Blumenbach, within the tradition of Enlightenment optimism, believed in the unity of the races of man. One creation for all races was consistent with biblical teachings and with the humanist belief of a Golden Age, a mythical era of peace and prosperity. However, Morton's research showed little difference between ancient and modern skulls. The data from Egyptian monuments, presented in his second book Crania Aegyptica (1844), suggested distinct races a short time after the commonly accepted date of the flood, calculated by Archbishop Ussher as 2348 b.c.e. This date left no time for the racial adaptation to climate argued by the environmentalists; therefore, each race must have had a separate origin. Polygenesis was the first American scientific theory to win respect in European circles, thus its name, the American School. This "scientific" refutation of biblical accuracy incited great consternation and was not universally well received in the South, although it provided scientific justification for slavery, as the historian Thomas E. Will has discussed.

Other notable proponents of the American School were Ephraim G. Squier, Louis Agassiz, George Gliddon, and Josiah C. Nott. The latter two popularized Morton's ideas in their books Types of Mankind (1854) and The Indigenous Races of the Earth (1857). George Gliddon (1809–1857), an Englishman, a former United States vice-consul to Egypt, and a supplier of skulls for Morton, was considered a leading Egyptologist. A flamboyant and popular lecturer, he was a prolific disseminator of the American School's theories, particularly the thesis of Morton's Aegyptica: the Egyptians who had built the pyramids were white-skinned and slaves were black-skinned even at that point in history. Josiah C. Nott (1804–1873), a physician from Mobile, Alabama, built upon Morton's work. For example, he credits his personal observations in medicine as "evidence" for the lecture "The Mulatto a Hybrid—Probable Extermination of the Two Races if the Whites and Blacks are Allowed to Intermarry" (1843), which was published in the reputable American Journal of the Medical Sciences. While this and other writings attempt to justify slavery, part of Nott's motivations seem to be to taunt the clergy, whom he calls "skunks" in personal correspondence. In Two Lectures, on the Natural History of the Caucasian and Negro Races (1844) he argues that the human race must have been descended from many different original pairs.

Another advocate of the American School, Ephraim G. Squier (1821–1888), began his career as a journalist. He introduces and promotes ethnology as "essentially the science of the age" in an article published in The American Review (p. 385). Squier asks,

Do we desire to discover the results which must follow from the blending of men of different races and families? Do we inquire in what consists the superiority of certain families over others; to what extent they may assimilate with, to what repel each other, and how their relations may be adjusted so as to produce the greatest attainable advantage to both? (P. 386)

He responds that America is the ideal place for this study because of its three races living in close proximity. Squier moved to Ohio to begin a newspaper and excavated and wrote about the Native American earth-works that he found in the Mississippi Valley. From tree rings, which he dated as more than eight hundred years old, Squier concluded, "we are compelled to assign them [the earthworks] no inconsiderable antiquity" (Will, p. 26). While not stated explicitly, the evidence of Native Americans in ancient times cast doubt upon the likelihood that all races originated from one pair. But because his anthropological project Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848) was funded by the Smithsonian, Squier was forced to focus on his findings and reign in his speculations on multiple origins.

Louis Agassiz (1807–1873), the renowned Swiss-trained biologist who taught at Harvard, embraced the theory of polygeny. The idea of separate creations of races worked well with his own argument that animal species lived in the distinct provinces in which they had been created. He applied his theory of geographical distribution to race and set forth his argument in three articles (1850–1851) for the Unitarian Christian Examiner. The second, "The Diversity of Origin of Human Races," argues that racial distinctions existed from the very beginning—that "an intelligent Creator" adapted each race to its particular locality. Agassiz's support gave credibility and authority to the American School.

Early in the nineteenth century the prevailing racial theory postulated that environmental forces, particularly climate, caused racial differences. By mid-century, the influence of the American School was so pervasive that the April 1850 issue of the United States Democratic Review could declare, no doubt with exaggeration, "few or none now seriously adhere to the theory of the unity of the races" (Will, p. 28). It would not be until Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) that the idea of species as always changing would end the reign of the American School.


Ethnology provided a justification for slavery at a time when territories were entering the Union and their status as a slave or free state needed to be defined. When Secretary of State John C. Calhoun asked Gliddon in 1844 for scientific justification for slavery, Gliddon readily supplied Morton's Crania Americana and Crania Aegyptica and several pamphlets of his own. It was just this sort of "scientific" attack upon African Americans that Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) targeted in a commencement address entitled "The Claims of the Negro, Ethnologically Considered" in 1854. He asserted that "the debates in Congress on the Nebraska Bill during the past winter, will show how slaveholders have availed themselves of this doctrine [multiple creations] in support of slaveholding. There is no doubt that the Messrs. Nott, Glidden [sic], Morton, Smith and Agassiz were duly consulted by our slavery propagating statesmen" (p. 16). Indicting the subjective nature of the American School's findings, Douglass comments,

Indeed, ninety-nine out of every hundred of the advocates of a diverse origin of the human family in this country, [who] are among those who hold it to be the privilege of the Anglo-Saxon to enslave and oppress the African—and slaveholders . . . have admitted, that the whole argument in defence of slavery, becomes utterly worthless the moment the African is proved to be equally a man with the Anglo-Saxon. The temptation, therefore, to read the negro out of the human family is exceedingly strong, and may account somewhat for the repeated attempts on the part of Southern pretenders to science, to cast a doubt over the Scriptural account of the origin of mankind. . . . Pride and selfishness, combined with mental power, never want for a theory to justify them—and when men oppress their fellow-men, the oppressor ever finds, in the character of the oppressed, a full justification for his oppression. (Pp. 14–15)

Douglass refutes the charges of the American School by first noting scriptural authority, particularly the Bible's account of the origin of humans, and then taking Morton to task, showing his "contempt for Negroes" in his argument to prove ancient Egyptians as distinct from Negroes and for claiming ancient Egyptians as Caucasian. Douglass's rebuttal uses historical physical descriptions and contemporary philo-logical sources to show "a strong affinity and a direct relationship" between Africans and Egyptians. He goes on to argue that "outward circumstance" (environmentalism) affects physical attributes, noting the similarity between poor Irish and plantation slaves: "The open, uneducated mouth—the long, gaunt arm—the badly formed foot and ankle—the shuffling gait—the retreating forehead and vacant expression—and, their petty quarrels and fights—all reminded me of the plantation, and my own cruelly abused people" (p. 30).


The American public learned about ethnology from a variety of sources: amateur studies of tribes, governmental reports, philological papers, captivity narratives, excavation reports, as well as popular lectures like Gliddon's Egyptian series. These findings, often scientific in nature, were discussed in articles in newspapers, magazines, and reviews, part of the hub and buzz of daily life. They provided for many contemporary writers subject matter and a creative impetus.

For example, James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) found within the Moravian missionary John Heckewelder's Account of the History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations, Who Once Inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States (1819) material on which to base the characterization of the Native Americans in his Leatherstocking Tales (1823–1841). Heckewelder lived with the Delaware Indians, described them sympathetically, and "accepted their national prejudices," according to the historian and anthroplogist Paul A. W. Wallace (p. 426). One prejudice, since found unsubstantiated, was against the Iroquois, who supposedly deceived the Delaware into accepting peace and then incited their enemies to attack. Within the novels, Cooper constructs a dichotomy: the perfidious Iroquois versus the noble Delaware. Pathfinder (Leatherstocking) says, "Iroquois—devil—Mingoes—Mengwes, or furies . . . all are pretty much the same. I call all rascals Mingoes" (Wallace, p. 427). Throughout his five-book series, Cooper characterizes the Mingoes (Iroquois) as consistently malign and treacherous, whereas the Delaware Indians Chingachgook and his son Uncas are noble and sympathetic. In The Pioneers (1823), Cooper's portrayal of Old Indian John (Chingachgook) as drunk, tragic, and proud—a symbol of a people destined for extinction as white settlements moved in—reflected the overriding assumptions of the day.

While Cooper worked to represent Native Americans with fidelity, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) was not so concerned with authenticity in The Song of Hiawatha (1855). Drawing from Schoolcraft's retelling of Algonquin legends in Algic Researches, he substitutes an Iroquois name for the hero Manabozho and modifies and consolidates several stories. Longfellow employs a Finnish epic's meter to suggest the tom-tom beat. The poem concludes with the hero Hiawatha canoeing westward into the setting sun after encouraging his people to welcome European missionaries. Like Cooper, Longfellow celebrates the Indian culture while romanticizing its destruction. The Song of Hiawatha was hugely successful, selling eleven thousand copies its first month and thirty thousand in its first five months. It was performed, set to music, extensively reviewed, and parodied. Longfellow's poem is perhaps the best example of the flood of romantic adaptations of Native American tales in the form of poems, novels, plays, and even operas. By mid-century, Native American legends and sentimental poems were staples of periodical literature.

Some writers, however, were consciously trying to document the state and culture of Native American tribes. In 1849 the novelist, magazine editor, and cultural critic Caroline Kirkland (1801–1864) suggested the motivation behind many of these studies:

We are continually reproached by British writers for the obtuse carelessness with which we are allowing these people [Native Americans], with so much of the heroic element in their lives, and so much of the mysterious in their origin, to go into the annihilation which seems their inevitable fate as civilization advances, without an effort to secure and record all that they are able to communicate respecting themselves. (P. viii)

Amateur ethnographers were documenting vocabularies and stories of tribes, often with great urgency. Mary Eastman's Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux around Fort Snelling (1849), in the preface of which Kirkland laments the loss of Native American culture, is one such example.

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), too, may be classified as an amateur ethnologist, as he was scouting the Concord environs for Native American arrowheads, pottery shards, and other material culture and researching Native Americans through his voluminous readings. His unpublished Indian Notebooks are twenty-eight hundred manuscript pages filled with excerpts. Seeking firsthand interaction, Thoreau traveled to northern central Maine partly to learn about the Penobscot Indians who still lived and hunted there. He described the trips undertaken in 1846, 1853, and 1857 in three travel essays, posthumously compiled as The Maine Woods (1864). These accounts reveal his increasing understanding of native peoples. In his first essay, he described the Penobscot Indians as "sinister and slouching fellows" (p. 78) and as an "ancient and primitive man" soon to be extinct (p. 79). By his third trip and essay, "The Allegash and East Branch," he was more sympathetic toward an acculturated Native American in need of formal education to protect his interests.

Some writers were also addressing and questioning the scientific categorization of the races. Nathaniel Hawthorne's (1804–1864) The Marble Faun (1860) entered into the debate regarding the separation of the races, as Michael Louis Merrill has demonstrated. Hawthorne created mystery over the racial composition of certain protagonists. After visiting a Cuvier-inspired exhibit of ethnology at the British Museum, Hawthorne wrote in the English Notebooks (1856), "I care little for the varieties of the human race, all that is really important and interesting being found in our own variety" (p. 440). However, he felt compelled to ask readers, in a conclusion after the novel's initial publication, not to spoil the merging of "the real and the fantastic" by demanding to know "how Cuvier would have classified poor Donatello" (Merrill, p. 80). While the racial composition of a faun might seem ridiculous, Kenyon, the novel's expert on race who classifies who is or is not "Anglo-Saxon," asserts that Donatello is an atavism, or racial throwback, and his race is Pelasgic (p. 82). Within the family tree charting the development of races, the Pelasgic race, according to polygenesists, eventually became the modern Caucasian race. However, Donatello's dark complexion and curly hair suggest a passing mulatto in nineteenth-century texts. Hawthorne describes the Praxiteles' fawn that Donatello strikingly resembles: "Neither man nor animal and yet no monster, but a being in whom both races meet on friendly grounds" (Merrill, p. 86). Hawthorne's use of sculpture in the novel is suggestive in that the visual arts were used in the race debates; in fact Frederick Douglass once warned, perhaps face-tiously, foreign artists to shield their "every specimen of ancient and modern arts that is chiseled or cast in black" for fear of defacement (Merrill, p. 68).

Contemporary debates on race appeared in southern antebellum literature. Defenders of slavery and the southern way of life responded to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly (1852) with more than twenty novels. As part of their defense, they incorporated existing "research" and assumptions. For example, Mary Eastman's Aunt Phillis's Cabin; or, Southern Life As It Is (1852) portrays the security and happiness of slaves on a Virginia plantation and contrasts that scene with escaped slaves exploited in low-paying jobs after being goaded into running away by abolitionists. These escaped slaves, Eastman suggests, do not have the skills and intelligence needed to take care of themselves. In characterizing the title figure, Eastman includes a passage from the popular travel writer Bayard Taylor:

Those friends of the African race, who point to Egypt as a proof of what that race has done, are wholly mistaken. The only negro features represented in Egyptian sculpture are those of the slaves and captives taken in the Ethiopian wars of the Pharaohs. The temples and pyramids throughout Nubia, as far as Abyssinia, all bear the hieroglyphics of these monarchs. There is no evidence in all the valley of the Nile that the negro race ever attained a higher degree of civilization than is at present exhibited in Congo and Ashantee. I mention this, not from any feeling hostile to that race, but simply to controvert an opinion very prevalent in some parts of the United States. (P. 103)

This assertion that the darker-skinned race was enslaved in ancient Egypt and could not be credited with a sophisticated civilization is one of many arguments that Eastman wove through her plot. The eponymous Aunt Phillis is lauded greatly for her loyalty to the Weston family; not surprisingly Eastman characterizes her as a mulatto, explaining that "the blood of the freeman and the slave mingled in her veins" (p. 103). In other antebellum novels, this mixing of blood, or miscegenation, could be explosive and sensational, as the critic Janet Gabler-Hover has examined in her study of the figure Hagar. Hagar's ethnic ambiguity allowed white writers to psychologically appropriate blackness with all its cultural baggage while the "pure blood" of their heroines is challenged or compromised.

Research on supposed inherent racial differences and the ensuing debates—as well as philological papers, excavation reports, missionary descriptions, Native American tales, and fieldwork—shaped the popular and literary depictions of the "other" in antebellum America. An understanding of this new science of ethnology, which "proved" the superiority of Caucasians, and of its influence on the culture provides a historical context for race and thereby enables readers to view antebellum texts with greater insight.

See alsoAbolitionist Writing; Blacks; Indians; Leatherstocking Tales; Popular Science; Proslavery Writing; Science; Slavery


Primary Works

Douglass, Frederick. "The Claims of the Negro, Ethnologically Considered: An Address Before the Literary Societies of Western Reserve College, at Commencement, July 12, 1854." Rochester, N.Y.: Lee, Mann and Company, Daily American Office, 1854. Library of Congress, Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822–1909, available at

Eastman, Mary Henderson. Aunt Phillis's Cabin; or,Southern Life As It Is. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Company, 1852. University of Virginia Digital Library, Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture, available at

Kirkland, Caroline M. Preface to Dahcotah; or, Life and legends of the Sioux around Fort Snelling, by Mary Henderson Eastman, pp. v–xi. New York: John Wiley, 1849.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. English Notebooks. 1856. Edited by Thomas Woodson and Bill Ellis. Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1997.

Morton, Samuel George. Crania Americana; or, A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various AboriginalNations of North and South America. Philadelphia: J. Dobson, 1839.

Nott, Josiah C. Two Lectures on the Natural History ofCaucasian and Negro Races. Mobile, Ala.: Dade and Thompson, 1844.

Squier, Ephraim G. "American Ethnology." The American Review 16 (April 1849): 385–398.

Thoreau, Henry David. The Maine Woods. 1864. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972, 1983.

Secondary Works

Bieder, Robert E. Science Encounters the Indian, 1820–1880:The Early Years of American Ethnology. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

Gabler-Hover, Janet. Dreaming Black/Writing White: TheHagar Myth in American Cultural History. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

Horsman, Reginald. Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Merrill, Michael Louis. "Race and Romance: Ethnology, Eugenics and the Evolution of the Nineteenth Century Novel." Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1994.

Mitchell, Lee Clark. Witnesses to a Vanishing America: TheNineteenth-Century Response. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981.

Stanton, William. The Leopard's Spots: Scientific Attitudes toward Race in America 1815–59. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.

Wallace, Paul A. W. "Cooper's Indians." In "James Fenimore Cooper: A Re-Appraisal," special issue, New York History 35 (1954): 423–446.

Will, Thomas E. "The American School of Ethnology: Science and Scripture in the Proslavery Argument." The Southern Historian 19 (1998): 14–34.

Kelli M. Olson


views updated Jun 08 2018


In 1888, while searching for lost cattle, Richard Wetherill and Charles Mason first caught sight of what is now called Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde, Colorado, the ancient cliff dwellings abandoned by Puebloan peoples centuries earlier. The Wetherill family's initial excavations soon turned into a family-owned cottage industry and a moneymaking venture as items yielded during their "digs" were sold to private collectors or museums. Wetherill would go on to excavate other well-known sites, including Chaco Canyon and Keet Seel. Ancient dwellings eventually received protection under the American Antiquities Act of 1906, which included legislation designed to thwart Wetherill's claims and to protect the U.S. prehistoric cultural heritage that was fast becoming prey to "pothunters" and others who wantonly destroyed these areas for sport. The act's language indicated that archaeologists and anthropologists had finally achieved scientific standing, because it limited the excavation of ruins to "institutions which [the secretaries of the interior, agriculture, and war] may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering . . . [and provided that] the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions."


Exploring and collecting became the distinguishing characteristics of the mid-1800s to early 1900s, a period that marked the emergence of research universities and major museums, some largely funded by the "robber barons" Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Russell Sage, men who adopted philanthropy as a way to polish their tarnished images. "The Age of Museums," as this period is often called, also grew out of the public's growing fascination with natural history. Amateur collectors and "scientists" assembled items and compared notes on everything they had gathered. There were also "gentlemen scholars" who employed collectors to accompany the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers (later called the Corps of Engineers) who were exploring and mapping the West and Southwest. These hired collectors brought back specimens for members of Albert Gallatin's American Ethnological Society to study, a group founded in 1842. In 1846, at the same time that natural history and other collections were being amassed and buildings were being created in which to house them, Congress established the Smithsonian Institution with funds bequeathed by the Englishman James Smithson.

When Spencer F. Baird (1823–1887) became the assistant secretary in charge of the National Museum in 1850, the Smithsonian began its first attempt at systematically collecting anthropological material. It received government collections containing items gathered by the U.S. Exploring Expedition, an international scientific voyage sponsored by the United States to travel the world and gather items for a natural history collection. It also received material from Matthew Perry's voyages to Africa and Japan and gifts to American presidents from foreign dignitaries, and in the late 1870s it would receive around five hundred paintings of North American Indians by George Catlin. Because the collections were growing so fast, Baird created a formal section of ethnology with curators who could care for them. The section's creation allowed Baird to institute a larger, more systematic method of anthropological collecting. It would also ease the efforts of John Wesley Powell (1834–1902) to establish a separate Bureau of Ethnology more than two decades later.

In 1866 the Illinois legislature granted Powell $25,000 to direct and curate a museum in Normal. To fund an expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Powell sought and received additional support and equipment from the Smithsonian and several Illinois public institutions. After a second successful trip, Powell received added funding from Congress to oversee the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region. While on this survey, Powell spent two months at the Hopi mesas, studying Hopi culture, language, architecture, myths, and more, all of which he included in an 1875 Scribner's Magazine article. This trip set the stage for Powell's interest in the Southwest as a "laboratory" where various peoples living in the same environment could be studied.

Powell had become the noted expert on western Indians, and he used this image to garner congressional support for an ethnological classification of American Indians whose cultures he felt should be documented before they had disappeared, a prevalent belief held during this time period. In an 1879 letter to a longtime friend, J. D. C. Atkins, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Powell requested funding for the completion of Contributions to North American Ethnology under the Smithsonian Institution's direction. That same year Congress also implemented legislation that led to the Bureau of American Ethnology's establishment as a separate research unit of the Smithsonian, independent of the National Museum. The bureau's research focus was the ethnology, archaeology, and linguistics of North American Indians. The 1879 Civil Sundry Bill contained Powell's request to Atkins for a bureau, and by 1880 the Senate had confirmed Powell's position as director of the newly created Bureau of Ethnology. The bureau's projects helped found the field of anthropology at a time when universities offered no advanced degrees in the field and when no full-time anthropologists were employed.

While Powell was working toward the creation of the bureau, individuals from the Topographical Engineers were continuing their surveys of the Southwest. In this capacity Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden (1829–1887) traveled to Colorado Territory in 1873 with a hired photographer, William Henry Jackson (1843–1942). While in Colorado, Jackson's photographic party observed and made note of numerous cliff dwellings, the same dwellings that Wetherill would soon "discover" and excavate. Additionally, in 1875 Jackson had also detected and photographed cliff dwellings in the Four Corners region, Mesa Verde, and Chaco Canyon. These photographs, along with the collections made by Powell's Rocky Mountain survey and three other surveys, would be consolidated to fashion the "Indian" displays at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The exhibition's success is what prompted Congress to fund the U.S. National Museum building, which opened in 1878.


As director of the new Bureau of Ethnology, Powell sent to the Southwest a team consisting of the bureau's administration officer and his wife, James and Matilda Stevenson; the photographer Jack Hillers; and the young curator of the ethnological department of the National Museum, Frank Hamilton Cushing. Their mission was to survey and collect items for the National Museum from Pueblo Indian villages and ruins in Arizona and New Mexico. They made their first stop in 1879 in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, "collecting," as Stevenson noted, "in the dead hours of night" (Fowler, p. 107), well over ten thousand pounds of cultural objects from the Zuni and Hopi Pueblos. Matilda Stevenson (1849–1915), the first woman to work in the Southwest, conducted her own studies with the Zuni. In particular, she was the first ethnologist to consider women and children worthy study subjects, and her gender allowed her access to areas generally unavailable to men. After spending a month at Zuni and Hopi, the Stevensons traveled to Fort Wingate, leaving Cushing behind, where he would remain for another 4.5 years.

During his tenure at Zuni, Cushing (1857–1900) was initiated into the Priesthood of the Bow, was made a Zuni war chief, and received the Zuni name Medicine Flower. He also learned the language and participated in all aspects of Zuni life. In 1881 Cushing met the Boston Herald journalist Sylvester Baxter, who had traveled to Zuni to do a story on Cushing. The two men became lifelong friends, and Cushing became the subject of many stories drawn from their correspondence, which Baxter included in the newspaper. The following year Cushing and several Zuni leaders headed east and became a media sensation with Boston's elite, which included Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885), author of Ramona (1884) and A Century of Dishonor (1881), an unconventional history that provided a searing indictment of federal Indian policy. Jackson had hoped that both of these publications would help redress Indian grievances.

Cushing wrote a series of articles about the years he spent trying to behave like a Zuni. Through the fall of 1882 Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine carried Cushing's highly romanticized articles under the title "My Adventures in Zuni." "Zuni Fetishes," a paper describing myths and religious rituals, followed in 1883, and a series of eighteen articles collectively known as Zuni Breadstuff appeared in 1884–1885. Cushing was the first anthropologist who chose to live among the people he studied, transforming him from a detached observer to a community member. In speaking of cultures in the plural, his work foreshadowed the cultural relativism of Franz Boas. Indeed, Cushing's work became the impetus for generations of anthropologists to journey to the Southwest, thus making it the laboratory that Powell had imagined it was.

Conducting archaeological work near Cushing was Adolph Bandelier (1840–1914), who had arrived in the Southwest in 1880. Powell had recommended that Charles Eliot Norton's Archaeological Institute of America place Bandelier in the Southwest. Despite this endorsement, Bandelier remained distant from Powell and the Bureau of Ethnology, critiqued Powell's surveys, and disparaged the Stevensons' work methods. Four years after the Stevensons had raided Zuni, Bandelier visited and noted in his diary how their shameless plundering had destroyed the church there. Like Cushing, Bandelier pioneered many practices that have become foundational in modern archaeology, and he even authored a documentary novel called The Delight Makers (1890), a romantic tale about ancient Pueblo cliff dwellers that allowed him the opportunity to teach the public about Pueblo customs and beliefs. As the public's interest in anthropology and archaeology grew, efforts to preserve individual ruins from pothunters gathered momentum.

Anthropological work took the founder of modern anthropology, Franz Boas (1858–1942), beyond the Southwest from 1883 to 1884. In Baffinland, near the Arctic Circle, Boas studied the Eskimos and their perception of landscape as expressed through language. From 1886 to 1888 Boas studied the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest, which became the group that formed the basis of his anthropological career. His language studies in the Arctic and Pacific Northwest led to his development of "cultural relativism," a theory that traced human difference based on culture rather than race or social evolution. At that time, accepted racial-scientific and cultural evolutionist theories claimed that race created difference, and this theory was used to demonstrate white superiority either through measurements of skull size in craniology or the perceived lack of culture in primitive or savage societies. But Boas believed that all groups had their own cultures; thus he promoted the idea of cultures as plural, not as something that groups had or did not have. White western European culture had become the norm by which all other peoples were measured, which was an assumption that Boas understood and sought to discredit. Celebrated anthropologists who would study under Boas include Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Zora Neale Hurston, whom Boas aided in her publication of Mules and Men (1935), a book of African American folklore.


As anthropologists and archaeologists professionalized, the Wetherills remained a threat to their future. Between their first "discovery" of Cliff Palace in 1888 and their initial exhibition in 1889, the Wetherills located and named over 180 major and minor ruins in the Southwest. In addition to exhibiting and selling their collections, the Wetherills also guided tourists to the ruins for a fee. When the Swedish tourist Gustaf Nils Adolf Nordenskiöld (1868–1895) turned collector and attempted to ship several containers of artifacts gathered by the Wetherills back to Sweden, public sentiment against the commercial exploitation of archaeological sites grew. Although the second shipment was seized, no laws existed to stop excavations or shipment of materials out of the country, so the Wetherills continued their work unabated.

Between 1889 and 1899 the Wetherills worked their way, often multiple times, through Grand Gulch, Keet Seel in Tsegi Canyon, and Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. Their excavations ended in 1899, when Edgar Lee Hewett, president of New Mexico Normal University in Las Vegas, Santa Fe Archaeological Society members, and J. Bradford Prince, governor of New Mexico Territory, pressed for legislation to stop the looting and selling of artifacts. They also called for legislation designed to protect American antiquities, which resulted in the 1906 law. The Antiquities Act proved useful for the preservation of lands in the West and authorized the creation of national monuments, such as Chaco Canyon National Monument and Navajo National Monument. Publicity surrounding the Wetherills and the act's passage aroused the public's interest in archaeology.

Also rousing interest were three exhibitions—the 1892 Columbian Historical Exposition in Madrid; the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; and the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. In the Madrid exposition the United States occupied six rooms, and the American Southwest exhibit, occupying one large hall, received high praise. A young Franz Boas helped arrange displays for the Chicago exposition, a large portion of which eventually formed the Field Columbian Museum's foundation. This same period also saw the establishment of several archaeological and ethnological museums in major cities, such as the Museum of American Archaeology in Philadelphia in 1889. In 1894 the American Museum of Natural History's anthropology program placed Frederic W. Putnam (1839–1915) in charge, and Putnam brought Franz Boas to work with him. Putnam played a major role in training future anthropologists at Harvard and Yale. He also helped organize anthropology departments at other universities. In particular he organized the University of California at Berkeley's Department of Anthropology in 1901. By 1906 the Yale University Museum, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Phillips Academy, the Delaware County Institute of Science, the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Bishop Museum in Hawaii all included exhibits of anthropological collections.


The 1880s and 1890s saw popular and scholarly writers transforming the Southwest into an exotic and foreign country within the United States. Indeed, the Southwest had become a "land of enchantment" created in work such as Bandelier's fictionalized story The Delight Makers and Frederick H. Chapin's The Land of the Cliff-Dwellers (1892). Powell's southwestern laboratory had created a yearning among tourists, artists, poets, novelists, and essayists for a different kind of life offered by romantic and noble visions of Indian and Hispanic lives. While anthropologists and archaeologists produced the first southwestern literature—Bandelier and Cushing, for example, told stories rather than science—many more writers wrote novels in an ethnographic framework that championed Indians' and Hispanos' rights as well as their cultures and arts. The lesser-known writers Charles Francis Saunders, author of The Indians of the Terraced Houses (1912), and Leo Crane, author of Indians of the Enchanted Desert (1925) and Desert Drums (1928), opposed attempts to assimilate Indians, and these men's romantic histories of the Pueblos provided a way for them to express their outrage over the Pueblos' mistreatment.

Another writer whose work echoed the ongoing activity of archaeologists and anthropologists such as Bandelier, Cushing, Jesse Walter Fewkes, Washington Matthews, and the Stevensons was Charles F. Lummis (1859–1928), a Harvard-educated easterner who had "tramped" his way across the country, traveling through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. Lummis arrived in Los Angeles in 1885 and worked for the Los Angeles Times for three years until a severe stroke forced him to leave the city and recover in New Mexico, recuperating in the home of Amado Chaves, former speaker of the New Mexico territorial government. Lummis's experience with the family cultivated a deep respect for old Spanish beliefs and practices and affection for the people. After recovering, Lummis spent three years at Isleta Pueblo recording and publishing his experiences. His work includes A New Mexico David (1891), A Tramp across the Continent (1892), Some Strange Corners of Our Country (1892), The Land of Poco Tiempo (1893), The Spanish Pioneers (1893), The Man Who Married the Moon (1894), The Enchanted Burro (1897), and The King of the Broncos (1897). Lummis mainly wrote for an eastern audience, promoting the region's unique landscape and population. Although he celebrated the more romantic elements of Pueblo Indian and Mexican American culture, he portrayed negatively the Indians' belief in witchcraft and the activities of the Mexican American penitentes. In addition to meeting the religious, educational, social aid, and political organizing needs of rural communities, the penitentes engaged in self-flagellation and crucifixion rituals.

Lummis's enthusiastic promotion of the Southwest continued during his tenure as editor and chief contributor of the influential magazine Land of Sunshine, launched in 1894. Lummis praised the culture, climate, "Spanish" heritage, and architecture of southern California and the Southwest. His new home became a meeting place for artists, intellectuals, and politicians, including Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of "The Yellow Wall-Paper," Mary Austin, and John Muir. Lummis and Helen Hunt Jackson actively campaigned for the rights of southern California Indians. A negative outcome of Jackson's efforts to fictionalize the plight of Indians, however, was that individuals promoting investment and settlement in California had seized upon the romantic image of "Spanish" ranchos and missions that her novel Ramona had created, thus leading to Indians' further dispossession.

John Muir (1838–1914), founder of the Sierra Club, began a thousand-mile walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico in 1867. He finally settled in California's Yosemite Vally and wrote well-received articles about the area that attracted writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson who eventually found their way to Muir's cabin. His articles in Century Magazine drew attention to the destruction caused by grazing and led to the creation of Yosemite National Park. His book Our National Parks (1901) caught the interest of President Theodore Roosevelt, who visited Muir in 1903. After this visit, Roosevelt signed legislation creating five national parks, and the Antiquities Act, passed during his term in office, allowed for the ongoing creation of historic landmarks.

Like Lummis and Jackson, Mary Austin (1868–1934) actively campaigned for Indian rights. Born and raised in Illinois, Austin moved with her family to California's San Joaquin Valley. Her journey toward Los Angeles led to her first publication in the Overland Monthly, "The Mother of Felipe" (1892). After her marriage, Austin and her new family settled in California's Owens Valley, where the Mojave Desert inspired her to write The Land of Little Rain (1903), a collection of nature essays that the Atlantic Monthly serialized. Austin was fascinated by indigenous peoples who regulated their lives according to the rhythms of the land and nature. Stories that dramatize the lives of these individuals include The Basket Woman (1904), Lost Borders (1909), The Flock (1906), and a play called The Arrow-Maker (1910). She remained in California until the late 1920s, when she settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After moving to New Mexico, Austin was one of the group of artists who participated in the Taos "salon" of Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879–1962), a New York socialite and patron of the arts who had settled in the Southwest in 1917 and married the Pueblo Indian Antonio Luhan. Luhan's books, including her four-volume autobiography collectively titled Intimate Memories and Winter in Taos (1936) and Edge of Taos Desert (1935), contain stories about the artists who frequented her home, including the writers Willa Cather, D. H. Lawrence, and Oliver La Farge; the painter Georgia O'Keeffe; and the photographer Ansel Adams. Luhan's promotion of the arts put Taos on the map and popularized the Taos and Santa Fe artists colony of the 1920s and 1930s.

Like those before her, Willa Cather (1873–1947) was lured to the Southwest by romantic images of American Indians created in archaeological, anthropological, and fictional texts; her short story "The Enchanted Bluff" (1909), inspired by the mystery of ancient cliff dwellers, was written before she had ever been to the region. In 1912 Cather visited her brother in Winslow, Arizona, and took a trip to see the cliff dwellings in Walnut Canyon, not far from Flagstaff. That experience provided the basis for the chapter "The Ancient People" in The Song of the Lark (1915). She then visited Colorado's Cliff Palace in 1915, and her conversation there with Richard Wetherill's brother would motivate her to write "Tom Outland's Story" in The Professor's House (1925). The novel recounts Tom's archaeological "discovery" of ancient ruins as an almost reverential experience. After Colorado, Cather spent a month in Santa Fe, where she read the life story of Reverend Joseph P. Machelboeuf, the vicar to Archbishop Lamy of New Mexico. These individuals would become the characters Joseph Vaillant and Jean Marie Latour, respectively, in Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927). Unlike tourists who visited and remained awestruck by the ancient ruins, Latour's experience of the cliff dwellings is different. He is reluctant to enter a place he refers to as "terrible," and his discomfort is contrasted with Jacinto's experience of a place that his tribe regularly visited.

Oliver La Farge (1901–1963) was another eastern transplant. While studying archaeology at Harvard, he made field trips to Arizona in 1921, 1922, and 1924, which led to his fascination with Navajo peoples and a change in his studies. He decided to pursue anthropology and transferred to Tulane University, where Frans Blom recruited him for an expedition to various parts of Mexico. After his return, La Farge was fired as ethnology assistant in 1928 when he insulted the son and daughter of a Tulane trustee. His dismissal prompted him to pursue a writing career, and his Laughing Boy (1929) was released to critical acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize. The story presented La Farge's view that the dominant culture negatively affected American Indians.

Other writers who drew from anthropological sources were the friends Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) and D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930). Although Lawrence did not produce a Southwest novel, he was greatly influenced by the landscape and the Indians, which becomes clear in a posthumously published essay, "New Mexico." Anthropological writings on "primitive" religions, along with a trip he made to Mexico, influenced Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent (1926). Huxley had never visited the Southwest, but his novel Brave New World (1932) contains descriptions of New Mexico, the reservation, and American Indians' lives and cultures based on conversations with Lawrence, readings of Cushing, and examination of articles contained in ethnographic reports.


A small number of Indian anthropologists have conducted their own fieldwork and published their own research. Francis La Flesche (Omaha) learned linguistics and research methodologies by working with Alice Fletcher and J. O. Dorsey in 1882. Arthur C. Parker (Seneca) directed New York State's Rochester Museum. He also published and was politically active in Indian affairs. Ella Deloria (Yankton Sioux) was another Franz Boas student. All three conducted anthropological research in their own communities and contributed to a better understanding of their peoples. Other Indian anthropologists include J. N. B. Hewitt (Iroquois), Jesse Cornplanter (Seneca), Essie Parrish (Pomo), John Joseph Mathews (Osage), William Jones (Fox), James R. Murie (Pawnee), and George Hunt (Tlingit).

Increasingly since the 1960s, American Indian authors and scholars have read non-Indian anthropologists' work and have expressed outrage over the unequal power relations inherent in scholarly work. Chapter 4 in Vine Deloria's 1969 book Custer Died for Your Sins pointed to the way that power and the politics of representation have played out in participant-observer relations. Indians have furthered the careers of anthropologists, who have made Indians objects of study rather than perceiving them as communities with problems and concerns larger and greater than anthropological studies. In his book Deloria demanded a research agenda that focuses on the needs of Indian communities rather than anthropologists' careers. It can be said that Deloria's scathing yet humorous critique of anthropological methodology single-handedly changed the field's research methods.

The fiction writer Sherman Alexie also has poked fun at anthropologists' self-importance through the character of Dr. Mather, a university professor in Indian Killer (1996), as well as non-Indian "Indian experts" in the stories "Dear John Wayne" and "One Good Man" in The Toughest Indian in the World (2000). Alexie's critique mainly lies with scholars who consider themselves more knowledgeable about Indian cultures than Indians themselves. Alexie refuses to validate the notion that book knowledge or advanced degrees suddenly transform individuals into Indian experts. Critiques of non-Indian scholarly studies of American Indians also have been advanced by Craig Womack (Creek), Angela Cavender Wilson (Wahpetonwon Dakota), Duane Champagne (Chippewa), and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (Crow Creek Sioux). They have called on "Indian experts" to consult and promote native peoples' scholarship and respect the different values and cultural perspectives that native scholars bring to their work.

American anthropology was founded on the study of American Indians, and over the decades thousands of Indians have worked as translators, cultural experts, or even anthropologists, helping to document Indian cultures. Anthropologists of Indian descent have increased over the years, and their work with early documents has helped tribes to recover cultural practices. However, anthropology's troubled history with native peoples means that researchers should continue to approach non-Indians' anthropological texts with caution.

See alsoAmerican Indian Stories; Folklore and Oral Traditions; Indians


Primary Works

Alexie, Sherman. Indian Killer. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996.

Alexie, Sherman. The Toughest Indian in the World. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.

Austin, Mary. The Arrow-Maker, A Drama in Three Acts. 1910. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1915.

Austin, Mary. The Basket Woman: A Book of Indian Tales for Children. 1904. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1932.

Austin, Mary. The Flock. 1906. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2001.

Austin, Mary. The Land of Little Rain. 1903. New York: Modern Library, 2003.

Austin, Mary. Lost Borders. 1909. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1987.

Austin, Mary. Mother of Felipe, and Other Early Stories. Edited by Franklin Walker. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1950.

Bandelier, Adolph. The Delight Makers. 1890. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1960.

Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop. 1927. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Cather, Willa. "The Enchanted Bluff." 1909. In WillaCather's Collected Short Fiction, 1892–1912. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965.

Cather, Willa. The Professor's House. 1925. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Cather, Willa. The Song of the Lark. 1915. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988.

Cushing, Frank Hamilton. My Adventures in Zuñni. 1882. Palo Alto, Calif.: American West, 1970.

Cushing, Frank Hamilton. Zuñni Breadstuff. 1884–1885. New York: AMS Press, 1975.

Cushing, Frank Hamilton. Zuñi Fetishes. 1883. Flagstaff, Ariz.: K. C. Publications, 1966.

Deloria, Vine. Custer Died for Your Sins. 1969. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1932. New York: Harper Perennial, 1998.

Jackson, Helen Hunt. A Century of Dishonor. 1881. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Jackson, Helen Hunt. Ramona. 1884. Madison, Wis.: Turtleback Books, 1988.

La Farge, Oliver. Laughing Boy. 1929. Boston: Mariner Books, 2004.

Lawrence, D. H. The Plumed Serpent. 1926. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Edge of Taos Desert. 1935. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987.

Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Intimate Memories: The Autobiography of Mabel Dodge Luhan. Edited by Lois Palken Rudnick. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.

Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Winter in Taos. 1936. Denver: Sage Books, 1935.

Muir, John. Our National Parks. 1901. Washington, D.C.: Ross and Perry, 2001.

Secondary Works

Berkhofer, Robert F., Jr. The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. New York: Knopf, 1978.

Bieder, Robert E. Science Encounters the Indian, 1820–1880:The Early Years of American Ethnology. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

Dippie, Brian W. The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1982.

Fowler, Don D. A Laboratory for Anthropology: Science andRomanticism in the American Southwest, 1846–1930. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000.

Hinsley, Curtis M., Jr. Savages and Scientists: The SmithsonianInstitution and the Development of American Anthropology. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press, 1981.

Jacobs, Margaret D. Engendered Encounters: Feminism andPueblo Cultures, 1879–1934. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Morgan, Lewis Henry. Ancient Society: Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1877.

Parezo, Nancy, ed. Hidden Scholars: Women Anthropologists and the Native American Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993.

Stocking, George, Jr. Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology. New York: Free Press, 1968.

Elizabeth Archuleta


views updated May 29 2018

eth·nol·o·gy / e[unvoicedth]ˈnäləjē/ • n. the study of the characteristics of various peoples and the differences and relationships between them.DERIVATIVES: eth·no·log·ic / ˌe[unvoicedth]nəˈläjik/ adj.eth·no·log·i·cal / ˌe[unvoicedth]nəˈläjikəl/ adj.eth·no·log·i·cal·ly / ˌe[unvoicedth]nəˈläjik(ə)lē/ adv.eth·nol·o·gist / -jist/ n.


views updated May 21 2018

ethnology (eth-nol-ŏji) n. the study of the different races of mankind, concerned mainly with cultural and social differences between groups and the problems that arise from their particular ways of life.
ethnic (eth-nik) adj.


views updated Jun 08 2018

ethnology Comparative study of cultures. Historical ethnology was developed in the late 19th century in an attempt to trace cultural diffusion.