Franz Boas (1858-1942)

Franz Boas (1858-1942)

  Born in Minden, Germany, Franz Boas earned his Baccalaureate from the University of Heidelberg in 1881 and in that same year, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kiel, Germany. In 1899, he became a Professor at Columbia University. 

  Franz Boas is best known for his work with the Kwakiutl Indians from Northern Vancouver and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia, Canada. While studying the Kwakiutl, he established a new concept of culture and race. He decided that everything was important to the study of culture. In his view, collecting data on everything was important. 

  Boas added cultural relativism to the body of anthropological theory and believed in historical particularism; cultural relativism pointed out that the differences in peoples were the results of historical, social and geographic conditions and all populations had complete and equally developed culture. Historical particularism deals with each culture as having a unique history and one should not assume universal laws govern how cultures operate. This view countered the early evolutionist view of Louis Henry Morgan and Edward Tylor, who had developed stages that each culture went through during their development. The views of Franz Boas and those of his students changed American anthropology forever. 

Boas has many students that went on to become some of anthropology's most famous names: Boas wrote many books during his lifetime:
Growth of Children (1896 - 1904)
The Mind of Primitive Man, 1938
Primitive Art, 1927
Anthropology and Modern Life, 938
Race, Language, and Culture, 1940
Dakota Grammar, 1941

Boas, Franz. Early Camera Study of Behavior

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