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Werner, Oswald

 Person

Oswald Werner was born on February 26, 1928, the son of Dr. Gyula and Bella (Toth) at Rimavská Sobota, in the former Czechoslovakia. Werner attended the Technische Hochschule of Stuttgart, Germany between 1946 and 1950, where he took the equivalent of a bachelor of science degree in Applied Physics. Werner joined the faculty of Northwestern in 1963 and remained until his retirement in 1998. His research focused on linguistics as well as cultural anthropology, particularly as they related to the Navajo.

After immigrating to the United States, Werner studied journalism at Syracuse University from 1954 to 1955. He took coursework in anthropology, also at Syracuse, beginning in 1958 and received a master of arts degree in that field in 1960. His thesis related to ethnographic photography. Werner then went to Indiana University where he completed his dissertation, “A Typological Comparison of Four Trader Navajo Speakers,” and took a doctoral degree in anthropology and linguistics in 1963.

Werner accepted a position as an instructor in anthropology at Northwestern University in 1963. Northwestern appointed him assistant professor later that year and assistant professor of anthropology and linguistics in 1966. He became associate professor of anthropology in 1969 and full professor in 1971. Werner served as chair of the Anthropology Department for the periods 1978-1983 and 1987-1989. He worked to organize and for many years directed Northwestern's Ethnographic Field School in Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology. The school was held during summers in the American Southwest. Werner retired from the Northwestern faculty in 1998. His other academic appointments included: Fulbright Professor of Linguistics at the Universidad Catolica of Valparaiso, Chile (1974); Fulbright Research Professor at Janus Pannonius University of Pecs, Hungary (1987); and Visiting Professor at Universiteit Gent in Belguim (1993).

Werner's research interests centered on the methodologies of ethnoscience and cultural anthropology, on anthropological linguistics, and on the Navajo people.

Werner was active in his profession and served on committees of the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Anthropological Association, the Linguistic Society of America, and the Central States Anthropological Society.

He wrote and edited numerous books and publications relating to linguistics, the Navajo, cultural anthropology, and anthropological methods. One of his most significant contributions to the literature was Systematic Fieldwork (with G. Mark Schoepfle, et al., Sage Publishing Co., 1987).

Werner received several awards and widespread recognition for his work. Prominent among them was election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Distinguished Teacher Award of Northwestern's College of Arts and Sciences, and the Sarton Medal of the Universiteit Gent.

Werner married June Travers on June 1, 1957. The couple had three children: Deborah, Derek, and Rickard. After his retirement from Northwestern University, Werner and his wife moved to New Mexico.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Oswald Werner (1928- ) Papers

 Collection — Box: 2
Identifier: 11/3/2/6
Abstract Oswald Werner joined the faculty of Northwestern in 1963 and remained until his retirement in 1998. His research focused on linguistics as well as cultural anthropology, particularly as they related to the Navajo. The Oswald Werner Papers fill forty-one boxes and span the years 1959 to 2007. They are arranged into six major categories: biographical materials, correspondence, Northwestern University general files, Northwestern University teaching materials, grants files, and publications.
Dates: 1959-2007