HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology. It is a “Who’s Who in the Age of Boas,” written by Herbert S. Lewis.
Lewis, Herbert S., 2020. “Who’s Who in the Age of Boas: The Sponsors of Anthropological Papers Written in Honor of Franz Boas (1906)”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
In 1906, when Franz Boas was 48 years old, he was honored with Anthropological Papers Written in Honor of Franz Boas, “Presented to Him on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of His Doctorate.” This massive volume, containing 43 scholarly papers, gives powerful testimony to the impact of Franz Boas on the establishment of anthropology as an academic and scientific discipline in America even at that early date. In this ambitious article, Herbert S. Lewis describes a complex, intercontinental network of scholars and sponsors, including unexpected figures such as two whaling captains known to Boas from his Baffin Island fieldwork in 1883-84. Boas’s continuing direct and active connection to European scholarship is evident in the fact that about a third of the contributions are from that continent, particularly from Germany and Austria. Lewis highlights the fact that the contributions of a younger generation pointing in the direction of what would become modern American anthropology was counterbalanced by a majority of papers by “pre-Boasian” ethnologists and antiquarians. Something else that the volume indicates is the extent to which Franz Boas had reached beyond the scholarly community to the world of wealthy and powerful men who supported his anthropological projects. Approximately 50 individuals were listed as backers of this fundamental volume and their backgrounds are revealing of the patronage for this new science at the birth of its institutionalization and professionalization. By rediscovering the lives of these numerous and largely ignored personalities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lewis reveals how the Boas Anniversary Volume marks the transition to a new anthropology in the United States. 1906 was, in this sense, a key moment in the history of the discipline.