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Famous Biologists
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Biographies

Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Fleming
Aristotle
Albert Bandura
Claude Bernard
Alfred Binet
Archimedes
Franz Boas
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Max Born
Louis de Broglie
Noam Chomsky
Nicolaus Copernicus
Francis Crick
Marie Curie
John Dalton
Charles Darwin
Rene Descartes
Thomas Edison
Albert Einstein
Euclid
Leonhard Euler
Michael Faraday
Benjamin Franklin
Sigmund Freud
Galileo Galilei
Jane Goodall
Stephen Hawking
Heinrich Hertz
Hippocrates
Edwin Hubble
Christiaan Huygens
Edward Jenner
Johannes Kepler
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier
Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Kurt Lewin
Charles Lyell
James Clerk Maxwell
Isaac Newton

Jean Piaget
Louis Pasteur
Linus Pauling
Ivan Pavlov
Max Planck
Ptolemy
Pythagorus
Ernest Rutherford
Jonas Salk
Erwin Schrodinger
B. F. Skinner
Nikola Tesla
Joseph J. Thomson
Alan Turing
Alessandro Volta
John B. Watson
Wilhelm Wundt

 

 

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Franz Boas

Germany was the birthplace to Franz Boas, in 1858. He spent a great deal of his youth studying natural sciences, and had his Ph.D. in the field of physics before he joined the military. After his military time, he traveled to Berlin to continue his studies. He planned his first year-long expedition in 1883, to northern Canada's Baffin Island. The unique Inuit culture fascinated him.


Franz Boas
 

Boas collected much data beyond what the project required, and this was the beginning of a life-long study of various ways in which people live. He taught university geography in Berlin when he returned to Germany. He stopped over in 1886 in New York City, after visiting another British Columbian tribe, and was taken with the city so much so that he moved there. He was the editor of Science magazine. He taught at Worcester, Massachusetts' Clark University.

At the same time, he was working on a project that would help in bringing Native American culture to the forefront of public knowledge. He determined that "Civilization is not something absolute, but is relative, and our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes."

Boas lectured at the campus of Columbia University in 1896 and later was appointed as a professor of anthropology at the school. He would go on to establish their anthropology department within nine years. It was the first anthropology department in the U.S.

As a researcher, Boas contributed to various aspects of anthropology, becoming its most famous figure by 1900. He was also an influential teacher in archeology, cultural anthropology, linguistics and physical anthropology, which are anthropology's four subdivisions.

"The Mind of Primitive Man", by Boas, was published in 1911, and taught about race and culture. He disagreed with the theory common at the time, which was that Western civilization was superior to societies that were not as well developed. Indeed, the book was so controversial that his University of Kiel, Germany, Ph.D. would be rescinded.

Boas updated and expanded "The Mind of Primitive Man" in the year 1937, and went on in 1940 to publish "Race, Language and Culture". He spoke out against the Nazi ideology that was coming to power before World War II, and he lectured in many locations to help in educating the general public to the dangers posed by the Nazi regime.

Anthropology was eclectic and holistic to Boas, and he made it clear that people needed to become familiar with nutrition, biology, human migration, disease and customs in child-rearing to express valid anthropological theories. He was able to influence the views of other scientists, who would realize that the differences found among different races did not arise from factors that were physiological in nature, but rather from historical circumstances and events.

Before he died in 1942, Boas had contributed much to each of the four anthropological branches, with studies that ranged from linguistics to racial classification. He was influential among researchers and scholars both during his lifetime, and those who would study that field after his death. Those affected included W.E.B. Du Bois and Margaret Mead. He was a true pioneer in anthropology.


Rumor Has It

Franz Boas was afraid of snakes. In fact a boa constrictor once sent Franz Boas screaming and jumping into his mommy's lap. He was 40-years-old at the time. And zombies. He didn't like zombies.

Written by Kevin Lepton


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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