Alexander Francis Chamberlain

Alexander Francis Chamberlain (18651914) was a Canadian anthropologist, born in England. Under the direction of Franz Boas he received the first Ph.D. granted in anthropology in the United States from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduating, he taught at Clark, eventually becoming full professor in 1911. Under the auspices of the British Association, his area of specialty was the Kootenay (British Columbia) Indians.

He was well known in anthropology for his bibliographic work, compiling the lists of new books and articles that appeared in the early issues of the American Anthropologist and later the Journal of American Folklore. He was editor of the Journal of American Folklore between 1901-1908. His works include:

  • Report on the Kootenay Indians, (1892)
  • Languages of the Mississaga Indians, (1892)
  • The Mythology of the Columbian Discovery, (1893)
  • Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought, (1896)
  • The Child: A Study in the Evolution of Man, (1900)
  • Poems, (1904)

He also contributed to the second edition of the New International Encyclopedia on South American Indians and Asiatic peoples, and to 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica on North American Indians. Chamberlain was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1902.[1]

Boas's obituary for him (one of a number he had to write for younger colleagues including Pliny Earle Goddard and Edward Sapir) recalls him as a genuinely good person.

The generosity with which he gave of his knowledge and his time to his fellow-workers was merely an expression of the desire to be of service to mankind, which was a dominant trait in his character


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