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Family Trees and Timber Rights: Albert E. Jenks, Americanization, and the Rise of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota1

  • Mark Soderstrom (a1)

Hindsight allows present-day scholars to view the development of academic disciplines in a light that contemporaries would never have seen. Hence, from our perspective, Mary Furner's assertion that anthropology developed as a profession reacting against biology and the physical sciences makes sense, for we tend to celebrate the triumph of cultural anthropology as the coming of age of the discipline. However, this trajectory of professional development was not a necessary or predestined development. Rather, the eventual (if occasionally still embattled) predominance of culture over the categories of race, nation, and biology was only one of many possible outcomes. This paper investigates a different trajectory, one that most current scholars would hope has been relegated to the dustbin of history. It is still a cautionary tale, though, in that while the racial anthropology followed in this narrative did not survive World War II, its practitioners did enjoy a degree of prominence and influence that was much greater and longer than has been generally acknowledged by current accounts.

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2 That is, unless one is currently in the sub-disciplines of forensic anthropology, physical anthropology and archeology.

3 Furner Mary, Advocacy & Objectivity (Lexington, 1975), xiii.

4 Johnson Elden, “Minnesota Anthropology to 1948,” Culture and the Anthropological Tradition: Essays in Honor of Robert F. Spencer, ed., Winthrop Robert H. (New York, 1990): 16.

5 Haskell Thomas L., The Emergence of Professional Social Science (Chicago, 1977), 1819.

6 Baker Lee D., From Savage to Negro (Berkeley, 1998), 3031.

7 Baker , From Savage to Negro, 5253.

8 Jenks Albert Ernest, foreword to Jenks Maud Huntley, Death Stalks the Philippine Wilds, ed., Richards Carmen Nelson (Minneapolis, 1951), x.

9 “Who's Who at Minnesota U: Albert Ernest Jenks,” The Minnesota Daily, February 4, 1925.

10 “Jenks 32 Years at U,” Minnesota Chats, April 23, 1938.

11 “Jenks One of Three Named from State,” The Minnesota Daily, June 1, 1923.

12 “Jenks Back From Europe Next Fall,” The Minnesota Daily, May 5, 1925.

13 Johnson, “Minnesota Anthropology to 1948,” in Winthrop , Culture and the Anthropological Tradition, 1920.

14 “Jenks 32 Years at U.”

15 “Ethnological Exhibit: Dr. Albert E. Jenks, Chief,” Box 20, W. J. McGhee Papers, Library of Congress Manuscripts Division, Washington, D.C.

16 Jenks Maud Huntley, Death Stalks the Philippine Wilds, 154–55.

17 Richards Carmen Nelson, preface to Death Stalks, vi.

18 Jenks Albert Ernest, “Some Aspects of the Negro Problem,” Science 35 (April 26, 1912): 667.

19 Jenks Albert Ernest, “The Legal Status of Negro-White Amalgamation in the United States,” American Journal of Sociology 21 (March 1916): 670–71.

20 Brinton Daniel G., Races and Peoples (New York, 1890), 5.

21 Jacobson MatthewFrye, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad 1876–1917 (New York, 2000), 4.

22 Rydell Robert W., All the World's a Fair (Chicago, 1987), 152.

23 Gerstle Gary, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 2001), 55. Gerstle points out that this standard in America harks back to seventeenth-century miscegenation laws that punished white women for interracial sex but ignored white men who fathered children with black women.

24 Thomas H. Uzzell, Notes on Course in Anthropology by Professor Jenks Senior Year, 1908–1909 Second Semester University of Minnesota, Curriculum Collection, University of Minnesota Archives, Minneapolis. As a side note, it is worth mentioning that Jenks did indeed include Franz Boas in his list of scholars.

25 Cravens Hamilton, “History of the Social Sciences,” Osiris, 2nd series, 1 (1985): 195.

26 “Dr. Albert Ernest Jenks,” The Minnesota Alumni Weekly 9 (November 8,1909): 4.

27 King Desmond, Making Americans (Cambridge, MA, 2000), 86.

28 Ross Dorothy, The Origins of American Social Science (New York, 1991), 147.

29 Higham John, Strangers in the Land (orig. pub., 1955, repr. New York, 1968), 234–63. Higham points out that although Americanization had pre-wartime roots, it reached its zenith in 1919 as an “antidote to Bolshevism” (p 254).

30 Jenks Albert Ernest, “The Relation of Anthropology to Americanization,” The Scientific Monthly 12 (March, 1921): 242–43.

31 Jenks Albert Ernest, “Building a Province,” The Outlook (May 21, 1904): 170–77.

32 Jenks A. E., “Building a Province,” 176–77.

33 Jenks sat on a board to decide the “correct and authorized spelling” of the geographical names of the Philippine Islands. See Jenks Maud Huntley, Death Stalks, 157.

34 Jenks Albert Ernest, The Goal of Americanization Training (March, 1919), found in the University of Minnesota Archives, Minneapolis.

35 Dean John Black Johnston to President Marion L. Burton, December 7, 1918, Department of Anthropology Folder, Box 44, Presidents' Papers, University of Minnesota Archives, Minneapolis.

36 Johnston to Burton, December 7, 1918.

37 President Marion L. Burton to Professor Albert E. Jenks, December 14, 1918, Department of Anthropology Folder, Box 44, Presidents' Papers, University of Minnesota Archives.

38 Beaulieu David L., “Curly Hair and Big Feet: Physical Anthropology and the Implementation of Land Allotment on the White Earth Chippewa Reservation,” The American Indian Quarterly 4 (Fall 1984): 286.

39 Beaulieu , “Curly Hair and Big Feet,” 286.

40 It bears mentioning that Ales Hrdlicka is acknowledged as the father of American physical anthropology. He was the curator of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian, as well as the founder and editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. He also co-founded the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. See Spencer's Frank “Ales Hrdlicka, M.D. 1869–1943: A Chronicle of the Life and Work of an American Physical Anthropologist” (Ph. D. diss., University of Michigan, 1979). Hrdlicka and Jenks were close colleagues until their conflict over the dating of the Browns Valley Man precipitated a falling-out.

41 Beaulieu , “Curly Hair and Big Feet,” 305.

42 Jenks Albert Ernest, “Indian-White Amalgamation: An Anthropometrie Study,” Studies in the Social Sciences 6 (March, 1916): 6.

43 Williams Vernon J. Jr., Rethinking Race: Franz Boas and His Contemporaries (Lexington, 1996), 35.

44 “Professor Jenks Returns to the University,” The Minnesota Alumni Weekly 15 (February 21, 1916): 12.

45 “Indian Vanishing Due to Pampering: Professor Jenks Says Only Chance is to Work,” Minneapolis Journal (January 20, 1916): 12.

46 Jacobson , Barbarian Virtues, 17.

47 Jacobson , Barbarian Virtues, 14, 51.

48 For a good encapsulation of this, see Rogin Michael, Ronald Reagan the Movie (Berkeley, 1987), 282.

49 Jenks Albert, “The Practical Value of Anthropology to Our Nation,” Science 53 (February 18, 1921): 150.

50 Uzzell , Notes on Course in Anthropology, 4.

51 Albert E. Jenks, Jenks Pre-History Chart: Types of Men and Cultures in the Glacial Age (Chicago). As included in Dunkelbeck Evelyn M., 1930–1931 Anthropology 41: Introduction to Anthropology Course Notes (19301931), Curriculum Collection, University of Minnesota Archives.

52 Uzzell , Notes on Course in Anthropology, 62.

53 See Rydell , All the World's a Fair, 154–83.

54 Jacobson , Barbarian Virtues, 49.

55 Jenks A. E., “Practical Value of Anthropology to Our Nation,” 155.

56 Albert Ernest Jenks to Charles F. Dight, March 1, 1926, Charles Freemont Dight Papers, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

57 Johnston to Burton, December 7, 1918.

58 Albert Ernest Jenks, “The Immigrant Jew,” Department of Anthropology Folder, Box 44, Presidents' Papers, University of Minnesota Archives.

59 Cravens , “History of the Social Sciences,” 196.

60 Clark Wissler to Albert E. Jenks, February 21, 1923, Box 2, Minnesota University Science Literature and the Arts Papers, University of Minnesota Archives.

61 Stocking George Jr., The Ethnographer's Magic (Madison, 1992), 118.

62 Bourdieu Pierre, “Systems of Education and Systems of Thought,” Knowledge and Control, ed., Young Michael F. D. (London, 1971), 191.

63 Jacobson , Barbarian Virtues, 150–51.

64 Pascoe Peggy, “Miscegenation Law, Court Cases, and Ideologies of ‘Race’ in Twentieth-Century America,” The Journal of American History 83 (June, 1996): 5355.

65 Pascoe , “Miscegenation Law,” 5658.

66 Dunkelbeck , “Notes from Introduction to Anthropology.”

67 Jenks Albert E., foreword to Death Stalks, x–xii.

1 I am grateful to Paul Barclay, the members of the University of Minnesota Radical History Workshop, and the University of Minnesota Sociocultural Anthropology Workshop for their encouragement and valuable contributions.

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