Alfred L. Kroeber : biography
Alfred Louis Kroeber (June 11, 1876 – October 5, 1960) was an American cultural anthropologist. He received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. He was also the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He played an integral role in the early days of its Museum of Anthropology, where he served as director from 1909 through 1947. Kroeber provided detailed information about Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yana people, whom he studied over a period of years.
Kroeber was born in Hoboken, New Jersey,Staff. , The New York Times, October 6, 1960. Accessed February 6, 2013. "A native of Hoboken, N. J., Dr. Kroeber was graduated from Columbia in 1896." to upper middle-class parents: Florence Kroeber, who immigrated at the age of 10 to the United States with his parents and family from Germany, and Johanna Muller, who was of German descent. His family moved into New York when Alfred was quite young, and he was tutored and attended private schools there. He had three younger siblings and all had scholarly interests.The family was bilingual, speaking German at home, and Kroeber also began to study Latin and Greek in school, beginning a lifelong interest in languages. He attended Columbia College at the age of 16, earning an A.B. in English in 1896, and an M.A. in Romantic drama in 1897. Changing fields to the new one of anthropology, he received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, basing his 28-page dissertation on decorative symbolism on his field work among the Arapaho. It was the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia.
Kroeber spent most of his career in California, primarily at the University of California, Berkeley. He was both a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of what was then the University of California Museum of Anthropology (now the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology). The anthropology department's headquarters building at the University of California is named Kroeber Hall in his honor. He was associated with Berkeley until his retirement in 1946.
Although he is known primarily as a cultural anthropologist, he did significant work in archaeology and anthropological linguistics, and he contributed to anthropology by making connections between archaeology and culture. He conducted excavations in New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru. In Peru he helped found the Institute for Andean Studies (IAS) with the Peruvian anthropologist Julio C. Tello and other major scholars.
Kroeber and his students did important work collecting cultural data on western tribes of Native Americans. The work done in preserving information about California tribes appeared in Handbook of the Indians of California (1925). In that book, Kroeber coined the term "tribelet" to describe a social unit which was smaller and less hierarchically organized than a tribe, which was elaborated upon in The Patwin and their Neighbors. Kroeber is credited with developing the concepts of culture area, cultural configuration (Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America, 1939), and cultural fatigue (Anthropology, 1963).
Kroeber's influence was so strong that many contemporaries adopted his style of beard and mustache as well as his views as a cultural historian. During his lifetime, he was known as the "Dean of American Anthropologists". Kroeber and Roland B. Dixon were very influential in the genetic classification of Native American languages in North America, being responsible for theoretical groupings such as Penutian and Hokan, based on common languages.
He is noted for working with Ishi, who was claimed to be the last California Yahi Indian. (Ishi may have been of mixed ethnic heritage, with a father from the Wintu, Maidu or Nomlaki tribes.)http://arf.berkeley.edu/archaeology-news/arf-newsletter-1996-v3-2 His second wife, Theodora Kraków Kroeber, also an anthropologist, wrote a well-known biography of Ishi, Ishi in Two Worlds. Kroeber's relationship with Ishi was the subject of a film, The Last of His Tribe (1992), starring Jon Voigt as Kroeber.
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