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Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Anthropology

 Organization

The Northwestern University Department of Anthropology was among the second generation of anthropology departments in the United States. It was founded in 1938, when it was formally separated from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Melville J. Herskovits, who joined the Sociology Department's faculty in 1927 as Assistant Professor of Anthropology, was instrumental in developing the four-field Anthropology Department at Northwestern (sociocultural, biological, and linguistic anthropology, and archaeology).

In 1929 the Department of Sociology was renamed the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Herskovits served as Chair of the Anthropology Department from its founding in 1938 until 1956. The Department awarded its first Ph.D. in 1939 to William R. Bascom, who immediately joined the Northwestern faculty and later served as Chair of the Anthropology Department in 1956-57.

In 1943, Northwestern University purchased the anthropology library of the late Professor Franz Boas, under whom Herskovits had studied at Columbia University. The collection, some 5,000 volumes and 10,000 reprints, was considered one of the largest and most complete collections of its time and was named the Franz Boas Memorial Library in Anthropology at Deering Library.

When Herskovits founded Northwestern's Program in African Studies in 1948, it was the first formally instituted interdisciplinary African Studies program at a university in the United States. Northwestern, with its Herskovits Africana Collection, is now considered one of the nation's leading centers of African Studies. Under Herskovits' direction, and with a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation, Northwestern established an African Study Center in 1952. Herskovits was appointed Chair of African Studies in 1961. He died in 1963.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Melville J. Herskovits (1895-1963) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 35/6
Abstract Anthropologist Melville Jean Herskovits presided over the creation of the department of anthropology at Northwestern University in 1938. In 1961, Northwestern appointed Herskovits to the Chair of African Studies, the first such position in the United States. The Melville J. Herskovits Papers document Herskovits' career during a period of very rapid growth of both anthropology and African studies. The bulk of the collection consists of professional correspondence and manuscripts of publications,...
Dates: 1906-1963