chapter  7
Franz Boas: Boon or Bane? 1
ByHerbert S. Lewis
Pages 24

The prominence of women in American anthropology from its beginnings as an academic discipline is obvious. This fact, too, may owe a great deal to the biography of Franz Boas, who taught the vast majority of women with PhD degrees in anthropology before the 1940s—indeed, almost all of them until Berkeley started granting PhDs to women after 1928. Ruth Benedict claimed that, Boas "found anthropology a collection of wild guesses and a happy hunting ground for the romantic lover of primitive things; he left it a discipline in which theories could be tested and in which he had delimited possibilities from impos-sibilities". Franz Boas could speak with authority to scientists and scholars and administrators of every sort, and to gain their respect—grudging or not. An Illustrated Biography, was able to carry the narrative until Boas's death and beyond, but although it adds some useful information from family recollections, letters, and photographs.