Alfred Louis Kroeber (1876-1960)

“Dean of American anthropologists”


Strengths: One of the most significant thinkers in American anthropology; introduced ideas of Culture Area and Culture Configuration


Weaknesses: Sent Ishi’s brain to the Smithsonian for examination post-mortem


Special Features: The anthropology department building at University of California is named Kroeber Hall; many of his contemporaries admired him so much that they grew their beards in the same fashion


Sign: Gemini


Selected Bibliography:

Indian Myths of South Central California (1906)

The Religion of the Indians of California (1907)

Anthropology (1923, 1948)

Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America (1939)


Alfred Kroeber was a student under Franz Boas at Columbia University, and was only the second American to receive a PhD in Anthropology. His focus was on Native American tribes, including the Arapaho. Kroeber did significant work with archaeology, as he believed the past was crucial for understanding the present. While living and working in California, he became the caretaker of Ishi, the last Yahi. He was an avid writer, publishing over 500 works during his career. Kroeber died in 1960 while on vacation in Paris.