Alfred L. Kroeber

About Alfred L. Kroeber

Who is it?: Cultural Anthropologist
Birth Day: June 11, 1876
Birth Place: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died On: October 5, 1960(1960-10-05) (aged 84)\nParis, France
Birth Sign: Cancer
Spouse(s): Henrietta Rothschild (m. 1906; d. 1913) Theodora Krakow Brown (m. 1926)
Children: Ted and Clifton Brown Kroeber (adopted), Karl and Ursula Kroeber
Parent(s): Florence Kroeber and Johanna Muller
Awards: Viking Fund Medal (1946)
Alma mater: Columbia University
Discipline: Anthropology
Sub-discipline: Cultural anthropology
Institutions: University of California, Berkeley

Alfred L. Kroeber Net Worth

Alfred L. Kroeber was born on June 11, 1876 in Hoboken, New Jersey, United States, is Cultural Anthropologist. Alfred Louis Kroeber was a prominent American anthropologist known for his contributions to the American Indian ethnology. A very influential figure in the field of anthropology in the first half of the 20th century, Kroeber was the first person to receive a doctorate in anthropology from the Columbia University. His works in the area of anthropology though primarily focused upon understanding the nature of culture and its processes also covered a wide range of related topics such as linguistics, folklore and social structures. One of his major contributions was the studies he conducted on the Yahi people, including his close collaboration with the last surviving member of the now-extinct tribe, Ishi. As a social scientist, he held the belief that all living organisms must be understood as indivisible wholes with respect to their developmental tendencies. It was his own personal experiences, growing up in a German family which had immigrated to the U.S., which kindled his interest in studying the cultural behaviors of people. In addition to his passion for anthropology, he also contributed significantly to the field of archaeology and had a lifelong interest in languages. He was a very hard working, calm and patient person and thus much respected by all those who worked with him.
Alfred L. Kroeber is a member of Intellectuals & Academics

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Kroeber was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to upper middle-class parents: Florence Kroeber, who immigrated at the age of 10 to the United States with his parents and family from Germany, and Johanna Muller, who was of German descent. His family moved into New York when Alfred was quite young, and he was tutored and attended private schools there. He had three younger siblings and all had scholarly interests. The family was bilingual, speaking German at home, and Kroeber also began to study Latin and Greek in school, beginning a lifelong interest in languages. He attended Columbia College at the age of 16, joining the Philolexian Society and earning an A.B. in English in 1896 and an M.A. in Romantic drama in 1897. Changing fields to the new one of anthropology, he received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, basing his 28-page dissertation on decorative symbolism on his field work among the Arapaho. It was the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia.


Kroeber married Henrietta Rothschild in 1906. She contracted tuberculosis (TB) and died in 1913, after several years of illness.


Kroeber's textbook, Anthropology (1923, 1948), was widely used for many years. In the late 1940s, it was one of ten books required as reading for all students during their first year at Columbia University. His book, Configurations of Cultural Growth (1944), had a lasting impact on social scientific research on genius and greatness; Kroeber believed that genius arose out of culture at particular times, rather than holding to "the great man" theory.


Kroeber and his students did important work collecting cultural data on western tribes of Native Americans. The work done in preserving information about California tribes appeared in Handbook of the Indians of California (1925). In that book, Kroeber first described a pattern in California groups where a social unit was smaller and less hierarchically organized than a tribe, which was elaborated upon in The Patwin and their Neighbors in which Kroeber first coined the term "tribelet" to describe this level of organization. Kroeber is credited with developing the concepts of culture area, cultural configuration (Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America, 1939), and cultural fatigue (Anthropology, 1963).


In 1926 he married again, to Theodora Kracaw Brown, a widow whom he met as a student in one of his graduate seminars. They had two children: Karl Kroeber, a literary critic, and the science fiction Writer Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. In addition, Alfred adopted Theodora's sons by her first marriage, Ted and Clifton Brown, who both took his surname.


Kroeber spent most of his career in California, primarily at the University of California, Berkeley. He was both a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of what was then the University of California Museum of Anthropology (now the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology). The anthropology department's headquarters building at the University of California is named Kroeber Hall in his honor. He was associated with Berkeley until his retirement in 1946.


He is noted for working with Ishi, who was claimed to be the last California Yahi Indian. (Ishi may have been of mixed ethnic heritage, with a Father from the Wintu, Maidu or Nomlaki tribes.) His second wife, Theodora Kracaw Kroeber, wrote a well-known biography of Ishi, Ishi in Two Worlds. Kroeber's relationship with Ishi was the subject of a film, The Last of His Tribe (1992), starring Jon Voight as Kroeber and Graham Greene as Ishi.


In 2003, Clifton and Karl Kroeber published a book of essays on Ishi's story, which they co-edited, called, Ishi in Three Centuries. This is the first scholarly book on Ishi to contain essays by Native American Writers and academics.