Anthropology in History

Historical Events


InventionScientific Discovery

1924-10-28 Miner M.de Bruin discovers the infant fossil skull, "Taung child" in a lime quarry in Taung, South Africa. Paleoanthropologist Raymond Dart identifies the fossil as a new hominin species, Australopithecus africanus.

Paleoanthropologist Raymond Dart
Paleoanthropologist
Raymond Dart

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1925-08-31 Anthropologist Margaret Mead first arrives in Samoa

Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead
Cultural Anthropologist
Margaret Mead

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1927-12-02 Paleoanthropologist Davidson Black announces to the Geological Society of China that the ancient human fossils from Zhoukoudian, China are a new species which he has named 'Sinanthropus pekinensis' (now known as 'Homo erectus')

Paleoanthropologist Davidson Black
Paleoanthropologist
Davidson Black
  • 1928-02-03 Paleoanthropologist Davidson Black reports his findings on the ancient human fossils found at Zhoukoudian, China in the journal Nature and declares them to be a new species he names 'Sinanthropus pekinensis' (now known as 'Homo erectus')

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1948-10-06 Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey finds the first partial fossil skull of Proconsul africanus, an ancestor of apes and humans on Rusinga Island, Kenya

Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey
Paleoanthropologist
Mary Leakey
  • 1959-07-17 Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovers partial skull of a new species of early human ancestor, Zinjanthropus boisei or 'Zinj' (now called Paranthropus boisei) lived in Africa almost 2 million years ago

InventionScientific Discovery

1960-12-02 Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey discovers 1.4 million year old Homo erectus (Olduvai Hominid 9) in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey
Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist
Louis Leakey
  • 1979-01-19 US President Jimmy Carter announces he is awarding Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to anthropologist Margaret Mead
  • 1987-09-07 South Africa frees Dutch anthropologist/Anc'er Klaas de Young

Famous Birthdays

  • 1752-05-11 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, German anthropologist (d. 1840)
  • 1821-08-29 Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet, French anthropologist who was the first to organize and classify Stone Age cultures into a chronological sequence of epochs, born in Meylan, France (d. 1898)

Person of interestRudolf Virchow

1821-10-13 Rudolf Virchow, German politician, anthropologist and pathologist (cell pathology), born in Schivelbein, Prussia (d. 1902)

Anthropologist/Pathologist Rudolf Virchow
Anthropologist/Pathologist
Rudolf Virchow
  • 1822-02-16 Francis Galton, British anthropologist and geneticist (eugenics), born in Birmingham, England (d. 1911)
  • 1824-06-28 Paul Broca, French brain surgeon and anthropologist (located speech center), born in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, France (d. 1880)
  • 1831-10-31 Paolo Mantegazza, Italian neurologist and anthropologist, born in Monza, Italy (d. 1910)
  • 1832-10-02 Edward Burnett Tylor, English anthropologist (Primitive Culture), born in London (d. 1917)
  • 1836-04-26 Erminnie Adelle Platt, American anthropologist (first woman to specialize in ethnographic field work), born in Marcellus shale, New York (d. 1886)
  • 1842-12-07 Otto Ammon, German anthropologist and sociologist (schedelmetingen), born in Karlsruhe, Baden (d. 1916)
  • 1844-03-31 Andrew Lang, Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and anthropologist (Andrew Lang's Fairy Books), born in Selkirk, Scottish Borders, Scotland (d. 1912)
  • 1850-07-12 Otto Schoetensack, German anthropologist, born in Stendal, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany (d. 1912)
  • 1853-04-22 Alphonse Bertillon, French police officer and anthropologist (devised crime ID system), born in Paris (d. 1914)
  • 1854-01-01 James Frazer, Britain, anthropologist/author (The Golden Bough)
  • 1858-07-09 Franz Boas, German-American anthropologist and linguist (Mind of Primitive Man), born in Minden, Westphalia, Prussia (d. 1942)
  • 1858-07-20 Ivan Vucetic, Croatian anthropologist (d. 1925)
  • 1865-08-27 James Henry Breasted, American Egyptologist and anthropologist, born in Rockford, Illinois (d. 1935)
  • 1865-09-20 Lubor Niederle, Czech archaeologist and anthropologist, born in Klatovy, Czech Republic (d. 1944)
  • 1866-02-05 Arthur Keith, Persley Aberdeenshire, Scottish Anthropologist (human evolution)
  • 1868-02-16 Wilhelm Schmidt, German anthropologist/linguist (Anthropos)
  • 1869-03-29 Aleš Hrdlička, Austro-Hungarian anthropologist and curator (US National Museum), born in Humpolec, Austria-Hungary (d. 1943)
  • 1870-09-18 Clark Wissler, American anthropologist (American Indian), born in Hagerstown, Indiana (d. 1947)
  • 1876-06-11 Alfred L. Kroeber, American anthropologist and author (Anthropologist looks at History), born in Hoboken, New Jersey (d. 1960)
  • 1877-09-16 Willem Huibert Rassers, Dutch cultural anthropologist (Pandji), born in Roosendaal, Netherlands (d. 1973)
  • 1881-01-17 Alfred Radcliffe-Browne, British anthropologist (Andaman Islanders), born in Birmingham, England (d. 1955)
  • 1881-11-08 Frank Speck, American anthropologist (Algonquin Tribes and Eastern Woodland Native Americans), born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 1950)

Person of interestDavidson Black

1884-07-25 Davidson Black, Canadian paleoanthropologist and doctor of anatomy who identified "Peking Man", born in Toronto, Ontario (d. 1934)

Paleoanthropologist Davidson Black
Paleoanthropologist
Davidson Black
  • 1887-06-05 Ruth Benedict, American anthropologist (Patterns of Culture), born in NYC, New York (d. 1948)
  • 1892-04-10 Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, German anthropologist (classified human into races), born in Jeseritz, Germany (d. 1965)
  • 1893-01-20 Kaj Birket-Smith, Danish etnologist/anthropologist (Eskimos)

Person of interestRaymond Dart

1893-02-04 Raymond Dart, Australian paleoanthropologist (Australopithecus africanus), born in Brisbane, Queensland (d. 1995)

Paleoanthropologist Raymond Dart
Paleoanthropologist
Raymond Dart
  • 1893-02-27 Ralph Linton, US cultural anthropologist (Tree of Culture)
  • 1896-12-12 Eslanda Goode, American anthropology, civil rights activist and actor under Paul Robeson, born in Washington, D.C. (d. 1965)
  • 1900-05-20 Lydia Cabrera, Cuban Anthropologist, born in Havana, Cuba
  • 1901-04-20 Michel Leiris, French cultural anthropologist, born in Paris (d. 1990)

Person of interestMargaret Mead

1901-12-16 Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (Coming of Age in Samoa, Thoughts & Female), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1978)

Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead
Cultural Anthropologist
Margaret Mead
  • 1901-12-19 Oliver [Hazard Perry] La Farge, American anthropologist and novelist, born in NYC, New York (d. 1963)
  • 1902-01-31 Julian H Steward, US anthropologist/professor
  • 1903-04-24 Siegfried Frederick Nadel, Austrian-British anthropologist (Black Byzantium), born in Vienna, Austria (d. 1956)

Person of interestLouis Leakey

1903-08-07 Louis Leakey, British paleoanthropologist and archaeologist (1964 Richard Hooper Medal), born in Kabete, Kenya (d. 1972)

Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey
Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist
Louis Leakey
  • 1904-06-23 Carleton Coon, American anthropologist (What in the World), born in Wakefield, Massachusetts (d. 1981)
  • 1905-01-11 Clyde Kluckhohn, American anthropologist (d. 1960)
  • 1907-05-30 Germaine Tillion, French anthropologist, member of French Resistance (d. 2008)
  • 1907-09-03 Loren Eiseley, American anthropologist and natural science writer (The Unexpected Universe), born in Lincoln, Nebraska (d. 1977)
  • 1907-10-30 Sol Tax, American anthropologist (founded the journal Current Anthropology), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 1995)
  • 1908-11-28 Claude Lévi-Strauss, French social anthropologist and ethnologist (structuralism), born in Brussels, Belgium (d. 2009)
  • 1911-04-07 Kenneth Oakley, Amersham Buckinghamshire, English Anthropologist, Palaeontologist, and Geologist whose method for the relative dating of fossils using fluorine content was instrumental in exposing the Piltdown Man hoax

Person of interestMary Leakey

1913-02-06 Mary Leakey, British paleoanthropologist, discovered earliest human footprints ((3.6 million years old), born in London (d. 1996)

Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey
Paleoanthropologist
Mary Leakey
  • 1914-05-16 Edward T. Hall, American anthropologist and author
  • 1914-06-10 Polly Hill, Dr/anthropologist

Person of interestThor Heyerdahl

1914-10-06 Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian anthropologist and explorer (Kon Tiki, Aku-Aku), born in Larvik (d. 2002)

Ethnographer, Archaeologist and Explorer Thor Heyerdahl
Ethnographer, Archaeologist and Explorer
Thor Heyerdahl
  • 1922-03-25 Tobias Schneebaum, American writer, anthropologist and explorer, born in NYC, New York (d. 2005)
  • 1924-11-01 Robert Rapoport, American social anthropologist, born in Brockton, Massachusetts (d. 1996)
  • 1924-11-23 Colin Turnbull, anthropologist
  • 1926-08-23 Clifford Geertz, American anthropologist (symbolic anthropology), born in San Francisco, California (d. 2006)
  • 1929-03-29 Sheila Kitzinger, British author, anthropologist & child birth educator, born in Taunton, Somerset (d. 2015)
  • 1930-02-08 James Deetz, American anthropologist (d. 2000)
  • 1930-08-01 Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist and anthropologist, born in Denguin, France (d. 2002)
  • 1938-08-14 Niara Sudarkasa [Gloria Albertha Marshall], American educator and anthropologist (Lincoln College), born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (d. 2019)
  • 1944-12-19 Richard Leakey, Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist and politician, born in Nairobi, Kenya
  • 1945-06-12 Alfred Gell, British social anthropologist (d. 1997)
  • 1950-08-24 Tim White, American paleoanthropologist best known for leading the team which discovered Ardi, the type specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus, a 4.4 million-year-old likely human ancestor, born in Los Angeles County, California
  • 1951-11-05 Stuart Havelock Hollingdale, anthropologist
  • 1953-08-29 James Quesada, Nicaraguan-American anthropologist
  • 1955-11-15 Georgie Born, English academic, anthropologist and musician (Henry Cow), born in Wheatley, England
  • 1959-12-08 Jim Yong Kim, South Korean-American physician, anthropologist and President of the World Bank, born in Seoul, South Korea

Famous Weddings


LoveWedding of Interest

1923-09-03 Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead (21) weds field archaeologist Luther Cressman (25)

Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead
Cultural Anthropologist
Margaret Mead

LoveWedding of Interest

1936-11-28 Paleoanthropologist Raymond Arthur Dart (43) weds librarian Marjorie Gordon Frew

Paleoanthropologist Raymond Dart
Paleoanthropologist
Raymond Dart

LoveWedding of Interest

1936-12-24 Paleoanthropologist Mary Nicol (23) weds archaeologist Louis Leakey (33) in England

Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey
Paleoanthropologist
Mary Leakey
Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey
Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist
Louis Leakey

Famous Deaths

  • 1840-01-22 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, German anthropologist (b. 1752)
  • 1880-07-09 Paul Broca, French brain surgeon and anthropologist (located speech center), dies at 56
  • 1886-06-09 Erminnie Adelle Platt, American anthropologist (first woman to specialize in ethnographic field work), dies at 50
  • 1898-09-25 Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet, French anthropologist who was the first to organize and classify Stone Age cultures into a chronological sequence of epochs, dies at 77
  • 1910-08-28 Paolo Mantegazza, Italian neurologist and anthropologist, dies at 78
  • 1911-01-17 Francis Galton, British anthropologist and geneticist (eugenics), dies at 88
  • 1912-07-20 Andrew Lang, Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and anthropologist (Andrew Lang's Fairy Books), dies at 68
  • 1912-12-23 Otto Schoetensack, German anthropologist, dies at 62
  • 1914-02-13 Alphonse Bertillon, French police officer and anthropologist (devised crime ID system), dies at 60
  • 1916-01-14 Otto Ammon, German anthropologist and sociologist (schedelmetingen), dies at 73
  • 1917-01-02 Edward Burnett Tylor, English anthropologist (Primitive Culture), dies at 84
  • 1922-06-04 William Halse Rivers, British psychologist/anthropologist, dies
  • 1925-01-25 Ivan Vucetic, Croatian anthropologist (b. 1858)

Person of interestDavidson Black

1934-03-15 Davidson Black, Paleoanthropologist, dies while working alone during the night, in Beijing, China at 49

Paleoanthropologist Davidson Black
Paleoanthropologist
Davidson Black
  • 1935-12-02 James Henry Breasted, American Egyptologist and anthropologist, dies at 70
  • 1941-05-07 Sir James George Frazer, Scottish anthropologist (b. 1854)
  • 1941-07-26 Benjamin Whorf, anthropologist, dies
  • 1942-05-16 Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski, anthropologist, dies
  • 1942-12-22 Franz Boas, German-American anthropologist and linguist (Mind of Primitive Man), dies 84
  • 1943-04-05 Aleš Hrdlička, Austro-Hungarian anthropologist and curator (US National Museum), dies at 74
  • 1944-05-19 Godfrey Wilson, British Anthropologist of social change and colonial problems in Africa, commits suicide as a conscientious objector in WW II
  • 1944-06-14 Lubor Niederle, Czech archaeologist and anthropologist, dies at 78
  • 1947-08-25 Clark Wissler, American anthropologist (American Indian), dies at 76
  • 1948-09-17 Ruth Benedict, American anthropologist (Patterns of Culture), dies at 61
  • 1950-02-06 Frank Speck, American anthropologist (Algonquin Tribes and Eastern Woodland Native Americans) dies at 68
  • 1955-01-07 Arthur Keith, Scottish Anthropologist, dies at 88
  • 1955-10-24 Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, British Anthropologist (Structural Functionalism and studies of Andaman Islanders and Australian Aborigines), dies at 74
  • 1956-01-14 Siegfried Frederick Nadel, Austrian-British anthropologist (Nuba), dies at 52
  • 1960-10-05 Alfred L. Kroeber, American anthropologist and author (Anthropologist looks at History), dies at 84
  • 1963-08-02 Oliver [Hazard Perry] La Farge, American anthropologist and novelist, dies at 61
  • 1963-11-13 Margaret Murray, English anthropologist and Egyptologist (b. 1863)
  • 1965-12-20 Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, German anthropologist (classified human into races), dies at 73
  • 1970-07-21 Mikhail Gerasimov, Russian anthropologist and sculptor (b. 1907)
  • 1972-02-06 Julian H Steward, US anthropologist (South American), dies at 70

Person of interestLouis Leakey

1972-10-01 Louis Leakey, British paleoanthropologist and archaeologist (Olduvai Gorge), dies at 68

Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey
Archaeologist and Paleoanthropologist
Louis Leakey
  • 1973-05-15 Willem Huibert Rassers, Dutch cultural anthropologist (Pandji), dies at 95
  • 1977-07-09 Loren C Eiseley, US anthropologist/writer (Animal Secrets), dies at 69
  • 1977-07-09 Loren Eiseley, American anthropologist and natural science writer (The Unexpected Universe), dies at 69

Person of interestMargaret Mead

1978-11-15 Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (Coming of Age in Samoa, Thoughts & Female), dies of pancreatic cancer at 76

Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead
Cultural Anthropologist
Margaret Mead
  • 1981-06-03 Carleton Coon, American anthropologist (What in the World), dies at 76
  • 1981-11-02 Kenneth Oakley, English Anthropologist, Palaeontologist, and Geologist whose method for the relative dating of fossils using fluorine content was instrumental in exposing the Piltdown Man hoax, dies at 70
  • 1990-09-11 Myrna Mack, Guatemalan anthropologist (b. 1949)
  • 1990-09-30 Michel Levis, French cultural anthropologist/writer, dies
  • 1990-09-30 Michel Leiris, French cultural anthropologist, dies at 89
  • 1991-09-25 Lydia Cabrera, Cuban Anthropologist, dies at 91
  • 1994-06-07 Stuart Havelock Hollingdale, anthropologist, dies at 42
  • 1994-07-28 Colin Turnbull, anthropologist, dies at 69
  • 1995-01-04 Sol Tax, American anthropologist (founded the journal Current Anthropology), dies at 87

Person of interestRaymond Dart

1995-11-22 Raymond Dart, Australian paleoanthropologist (Australopithecus africanus), dies at 95

Paleoanthropologist Raymond Dart
Paleoanthropologist
Raymond Dart
  • 1996-11-04 Robert Rapoport, American social anthropologist, dies at 72
  • 1996-12-09 Mary Leakey, British archaeologist and anthropologist, discovered earliest human footprints (3.6 million years old), dies at 83
  • 2002-01-23 Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist and anthropologist, dies at 71

Person of interestThor Heyerdahl

2002-04-18 Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian anthropologist & explorer (Kon Tiki, Aku-Aku), dies of a brain tumor at 87

Ethnographer, Archaeologist and Explorer Thor Heyerdahl
Ethnographer, Archaeologist and Explorer
Thor Heyerdahl
  • 2005-09-20 Tobias Schneebaum, American writer, anthropologist and explorer dies at 83
  • 2006-10-30 Clifford Geertz, American anthropologist (symbolic anthropology), dies at 80
  • 2008-04-19 Germaine Tillion, French anthropologist, member of French Resistance (b. 1907)
  • 2009-10-30 Claude Lévi-Strauss, French social anthropologist and ethnologist (structuralism), dies at 100
  • 2010-11-25 C. Scott Littleton, American anthropologist and academic (b. 1933)
  • 2015-04-12 Sheila Kitzinger, British author, anthropologist & child birth educator, dies at 86
  • 2019-05-31 Niara Sudarkasa [Gloria Albertha Marshall], American educator and anthropologist (Lincoln College), dies at 80