Famous 19th Century Anthropologists

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 1 Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston
Famous As: Folklorist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 2 Franz Boas

Franz Boas
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: July 9, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Minden, Westphalia, Germany
Died: December 21, 1942

Remembered for his research on cultural relativism, German-born American anthropologist Franz Boas is often referred to as the Father of American Anthropology. The son of a merchant, he was a sickly child who grew up reading a lot. He also studied folklore and developed it as an academic discipline.

 3 Ruth Benedict

Ruth Benedict
Famous As: Anthropologist, Folklorist, University teacher, Poet, Sociologist, Biographer
Birthdate: June 5, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: September 17, 1948

Ruth Benedict was an American folklorist and anthropologist. Benedict, who played an important role in the American Folklore Society, also served as the American Anthropological Association's president; the association gives away an annual prize named after Ruth Benedict. In 2005, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

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 4 Edward Burnett Tylor

Edward Burnett Tylor
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: October 2, 1832
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Camberwell, London, England
Died: January 2, 1917

Known for his pioneering work in cultural anthropology, Edward Burnett Tylor penned iconic works such as Primitive Culture, which was partially influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Born to affluent Quaker parents, he quit school to focus on his business but was later drawn to anthropology. He popularized the term animism.

 5 Marcel Mauss

Marcel Mauss
Famous As: Sociologist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 10, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Épinal, Vosges, France
Died: February 10, 1950

Sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss is regarded as the Father of French Ethnology. Shunning his family business, he became influenced by his uncle, sociologist Émile Durkheim. His best-known work remains Essai sur le don, or The Gift. He also influenced Claude Lévi-Strauss, who founded structural anthropology.

 6 Edward Sapir

Edward Sapir
Famous As: Anthropologist, Linguist, Sociolinguist, University teacher, Ethnologist
Birthdate: January 26, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lębork
Died: February 4, 1939

Edward Sapir was an anthropologist-linguist. He played a pivotal role in the development of the discipline of linguistics in USA. He studied Germanic linguistics at Columbia and later researched Native American languages. He was an expert in the study of Athabascan languages and Chinookan languages. He also worked with Yiddish, Hebrew, and Chinese languages. 

 7 Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 27, 1820
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Derby, Derbyshire, England
Died: December 8, 1903

Herbert Spencer was the man behind the expression “survival of the fittest,” after reading Charles Darwin's iconic work On the Origin of Species. The British anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher introduced the concept of Social Darwinism, which applied the theory of evolution to societies and social classes.

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 8 Lewis Henry Morgan

Lewis Henry Morgan
Birthdate: November 21, 1818
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Aurora
Died: December 17, 1881

Lewis Henry Morgan was a 19th-century lawyer, anthropologist, and social theorist. A contemporary of the European social theorists and philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, he was interested in studying what holds societies together. He originated several theories of social evolution. He was made the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1880.  

 9 Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace
Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Geographer, Anthropologist and Biologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanbadoc
Died: November 7, 1913

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace is largely remembered for his theory of evolution through natural selection, which inspired Charles Darwin’s studies. He began his career as a surveyor’s apprentice and later introduced concepts such as reinforcement in animals, also known as the Wallace effect. He was awarded the Order of Merit.

 10 Rudolf Virchow

Rudolf Virchow
Famous As: Anthropologist, Pathologist
Birthdate: October 13, 1821
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Swidwin, Poland
Died: September 5, 1902

Rudolf Virchow was a German physician, pathologist, anthropologist, biologist, prehistorian, editor, writer, and politician. Nicknamed the Pope of medicine by his colleagues, Virchow is credited with founding the field of social medicine. He is also widely regarded as the father of modern pathology.  Rudolf Virchow was the first person to name diseases, such as thrombosis, leukemia, ochronosis, embolism, and chordoma.

 11 Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: May 4, 1825
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ealing, London, England
Died: June 29, 1895

Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist and anthropologist. He specialized in comparative anatomy and was a proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Despite having little formal schooling, he went on to become one of the finest comparative anatomists of the 19th century. He was the chair of natural history at the Royal School of Mines for 31 years. 

 12 Karl Polanyi

Karl Polanyi
Famous As: Economist, Anthropologist, Economic historian, Historian, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: October 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: April 23, 1964

Apart from being a political economist, Karl Polanyi was also a prominent Hungarian political leader. The Great Transformation remains his best-known work. He taught at institutes such as the Columbia University and is known for proposing the idea of a cultural version of economics known as substantivism.

 13 John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell
Famous As: Explorer, Geologist
Birthdate: March 24, 1834
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mount Morris
Died: September 23, 1902

John Wesley Powell was a geologist and explorer of the American West. He undertook a series of adventures as a young man and later joined the military. He is best known for the three-month-long geographic expedition he undertook down the Green and Colorado rivers. He was made the director of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1881.  

 14 Ludwig Feuerbach

Ludwig Feuerbach
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: July 28, 1804
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Landshut, Germany
Died: September 13, 1872

 15 Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon
Famous As: Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist
Birthdate: May 7, 1841
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nogent-le-Rotrou
Died: December 13, 1931

French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon is best remembered for his research on crowd psychology. In his iconic work La psychologie des foules, or The Crowd, he stated that people are driven by their emotions and not by their intellect when they act as part of a crowd.

 16 Alfred Radcliffe-Brown

Alfred Radcliffe-Brown
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 17, 1881
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: October 24, 1955

Best known for his work on the pre-industrialized societies, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown visited Andaman Island and Western Australia to study the social structure of the people there, later writing two important books on them. A renowned scholar, he taught at various preeminent universities across the globe before returning to England to establish the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford.

 17 Edward S. Curtis

Edward S. Curtis
Famous As: Former photographer and ethnologist whose work focused on the American West and on Native American people
Birthdate: February 19, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Whitewater, Wisconsin, United States
Died: October 19, 1952

Edward S. Curtis was an American ethnologist and photographer whose work focused on the Native American people and American West. He is credited with photographing the first portrait of a Native American. Edward S. Curtis' work aimed at preserving the traditional life of Native Americans.

 18 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 11, 1752
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gotha, Germany
Died: January 22, 1840

A pioneer of physical anthropology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach laid down one of the first racial classification systems for humans after studying human skulls, dividing mankind into five racial groups. Born into a family of academics, he was a prodigy. He was against scientific racism, though his theory promoted the degenerative hypothesis.

 19 James George Frazer

James George Frazer
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer, Historian, Mythographer
Birthdate: January 1, 1854
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: May 7, 1941
British anthropologist James George Frazer is best known for his book The Golden Bough, which details his study of ancient cults and myths. He also taught social anthropology at Cambridge. He was also knighted for his achievements and was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 20 Lothrop Stoddard

Lothrop Stoddard
Famous As: Anthropologist, Political scientist, Historian, Author, Journalist, Opinion journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brookline
Died: May 1, 1950

Twentieth-century American political scientist and historian Lothrop Stoddard was a Ku Klux Klan and believed in eugenics, a theory that promoted the superiority certain races based on genetics. His book The Revolt Against Civilization introduced neo-Nazi concepts. He also covered World War II as a journalist.

 21 Wilhelm Grimm

Wilhelm Grimm
Famous As: Lexicographer, Anthropologist, Librarian, Writer, Law librarian, Children's writer, Educationist, Linguist, Specialist in literature, Germanist, Jurist, University teacher, Poet lawyer, Mythographer
Birthdate: February 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanau
Died: December 16, 1859

 22 Margaret Murray

Margaret Murray
Famous As: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Egyptologist
Birthdate: July 13, 1863
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolkata
Died: November 13, 1963

British Egyptologist and anthropologist Margaret Murray was also a scholar of witchcraft. Her best-known work is her 1921 book The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which inspired later witchcraft scholars such as Gerald B. Gardner. The University College London professor had worked in places such as Egypt, Malta, and Petra.

 23 Paul Broca

Paul Broca
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: June 28, 1824
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, Gironde, France
Died: July 9, 1880

 24 William Graham Sumner

William Graham Sumner
Famous As: Anthropologist, Political scientist, Writer
Birthdate: October 30, 1840
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paterson, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 12, 1910

William Graham Sumner was an American social scientist who held America's first professorship in sociology; he served as a professor of social sciences at Yale. Sumner, who wrote several essays and books on American history, political theory, sociology, and economic history, was one of the most popular and influential teachers at Yale. He also had an influence on American conservatism.

 25 Benjamin Lee Whorf

Benjamin Lee Whorf
Famous As: Anthropologist, Linguist
Birthdate: April 24, 1897
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Winthrop, Massachusetts
Died: July 26, 1941

Benjamin Lee Whorf was a linguist cum fire prevention engineer. Along with his mentor Edward Sapir, he developed what is frequently called the “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.” Even though he was a chemical engineer by profession, he developed an early interest in linguistics and presented several papers at linguistics conferences. Unfortunately, he died at the relatively young age of 44. 

 26 Prosper Mérimée

Prosper Mérimée
Famous As: Former writer in the movement of Romanticism, and one of the pioneers of the novella, a short novel or long short story
Birthdate: September 28, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 23, 1870

Prosper Mérimée was a French writer and one of the pioneers of narrative prose, which came to be known as a novella. A multi-talented personality, Mérimée was also a historian and archaeologist; he played a key role in the development of the process of architectural preservation. He was responsible for safeguarding several historic sites, such as the Cité de Carcassonne. 

 27 Ralph Linton

Ralph Linton
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: February 27, 1893
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 24, 1953

 28 Alfred L. Kroeber

Alfred L. Kroeber
Famous As: Cultural Anthropologist
Birthdate: June 11, 1876
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died: October 5, 1960

 29 Vuk Stefanović Karadžić

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
Famous As: Philologist, Anthropologist and Linguist
Birthdate: November 6, 1787
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tršić, Serbia
Died: February 7, 1864

 30 Madison Grant

Madison Grant
Famous As: Lawyer, anthropologist, writer, and zoologist known primarily for his work as a eugenicist and conservationist
Birthdate: November 19, 1865
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: May 30, 1937

A lawyer and a zoologist, Madison Grant is best remembered for his belief in eugenics and white supremacy, which he expressed through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race. He played a crucial role in the passing of immigration regulations in the U.S. He was also an avid conservationist.

 31 Max Scheler

Max Scheler
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 22, 1874
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: May 19, 1928

Max Scheler was a German philosopher best known for his work in ethics, phenomenology, and philosophical anthropology. He developed the philosophical method of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. He had a deep influence on the theology of Pope John Paul II. For many years, Scheler taught philosophy and sociology at the University of Cologne.  

 32 W. H. R. Rivers

W. H. R. Rivers
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: March 12, 1864
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chatham, Kent, England
Died: June 4, 1922

English anthropologist and psychologist W. H. R. Rivers is best remembered for his work on the Todas of the Nilgiri Hills. A qualified physician, he also taught at Cambridge and worked extensively on medical psychology. One of his best-known works is Kinship and Social Organisation.

 33 Arnold van Gennep

Arnold van Gennep
Famous As: Ethnographer
Birthdate: April 23, 1873
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg, Germany
Died: May 7, 1957

 34 John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury

John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury
Famous As: Anthropologist, Politician, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Banker, Statistician, Naturalist, Zoologist, Entomologist
Birthdate: April 30, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London
Died: May 28, 1913

British banker John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, better known as Sir John Lubbock, had also been an MP. However, he is best known for his contribution to ethnography and archaeology. He is also credited with coining the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic, and is known for his books on animal behavior.

 35 Melville J. Herskovits

Melville J. Herskovits
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1895
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bellefontaine, Ohio, United States
Died: February 25, 1963

 36 Eugène Dubois

Eugène Dubois
Famous As: Curator, Geologist, Physician, Anthropologist, Paleontologist, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: January 28, 1858
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Eijsden
Died: December 16, 1940

 37 Anders Retzius

Anders Retzius
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: October 13, 1796
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lund, Sweden
Died: April 18, 1860

Swedish professor of anatomy Anders Retzius is best remembered for his ground-breaking research on craniometry, or the human skull. He was associated with the Karolinska Medic-Kirurgiska Institutet in Stockholm. A Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences member, he was also the father of renowned Swedish physican Gustaf Retzius.

 38 Antenor Firmin

Antenor Firmin
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: October 18, 1850
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cap-Haitien, Haiti
Died: September 19, 1911

 39 Johann Jakob Bachofen

Johann Jakob Bachofen
Famous As: Antiquarian
Birthdate: December 22, 1815
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: November 25, 1887

 40 Adolf Bastian

Adolf Bastian
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: June 26, 1826
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bremen, Germany
Died: February 2, 1905

 41 Theodor Nöldeke

Theodor Nöldeke
Famous As: Orientalist
Birthdate: March 2, 1836
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: December 25, 1930

 42 Frances Densmore

Frances Densmore
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 21, 1867
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Red Wing, Minnesota, United States
Died: June 5, 1957

 43 Lucien Lévy-Bruhl

Lucien Lévy-Bruhl
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: April 10, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 13, 1939

Lucien Lévy-Bruhl was a French scholar best remembered for his contributions to the fields of ethnology and sociology. Although he was trained in philosophy, Lévy-Bruhl helped further anthropology. His work had a major influence on the works of Carl Gustav Jung, especially his psychological theory.

 44 Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay

Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay
Famous As: Explorer, Anthropologist
Birthdate: July 17, 1846
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yazykovo, Russia
Died: April 14, 1888

 45 Te Rangi Hīroa

Te Rangi Hīroa
Famous As: Doctor
Birthdate: September 30, 1877
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Urenui, New Zealand
Died: December 1, 1951

 46 Aleš Hrdlička

Aleš Hrdlička
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: March 29, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Humpolec, Czechia
Died: September 5, 1943

 47 Francisco Moreno

Francisco Moreno
Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Anthropologist, Geographer
Birthdate: May 31, 1852
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: November 22, 1919

Argentine explorer Francisco Moreno, better known as Perito Moreno, is remembered as one of his country’s greatest heroes. His explorations helped define the border of Chile. He discovered Patagonian treasures such as Mount Fitz Roy and established Argentina’s first national park, Nahuel Huapi. His accolades include the Cullum Geographical Medal.

 48 Walter William Skeat

Walter William Skeat
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: November 21, 1835
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
Died: October 7, 1912
British philologist, Walter William Skeat, was instrumental in developing the English language as a higher education subject in the UK. His research led to the publication of two major works: Malay Magic and Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula. Born in London, Skeat was the founder and only president of the English Dialect Society from 1873 to 1896.

 49 William Z. Ripley

William Z. Ripley
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: October 13, 1867
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Medford, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 16, 1941

 50 Charles Gabriel Seligman

Charles Gabriel Seligman
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: December 24, 1873
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 19, 1940
Charles Gabriel Seligman was a British physician and ethnologist whose main ethnographic work described the culture of the Vedda people of Sri Lanka and the Shilluk people of the Sudan. He was a proponent of the Hamitic hypothesis and promoted scientific racism through his work. Considered to be a highly influential teacher, Seligman was also a Professor at the London School of Economics.