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Ardrey, Robert (16 October 1908–14 January 1980), anthropologist, playwright, and novelist, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Robert Lesley Ardrey, an editor and publisher, and Marie Haswell. Ardrey earned a Ph.D. in the natural and social sciences from the University of Chicago in 1930. After taking a writing course taught by ...

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Cabrera, Lydia (20 May 1900–19 Sept. 1991), Cuban writer and anthropologist, was born in Havana, Cuba. (Even though 1899 is sometimes listed as her birth year, Cabrera always gave the date listed here). Her parents were Raimundo Cabrera Bosch, a lawyer, jurist, writer, and politician, and Elisa Marcaida Casanova. Lydia Cabrera was the youngest of eight siblings. Her interaction with her family’s Afro-Cuban servants (especially her nanny and her seamstress) and the stories she heard as a child are often cited as the foundation for her future career as a writer and transcriber of Afro-Cuban folk tales....

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Eiseley, Loren Corey (03 September 1907–09 July 1977), anthropologist, writer, and philosopher of science, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the only son of Clyde Edwin Eiseley, an amateur actor turned hardware salesman, and Daisey Corey, a self-educated artist. The family’s financial instability and his mother’s handicap (she was deaf and, as he later wrote, “always on the brink of mental collapse”) made his formative years in Nebraska a time of profound isolation. For solace, he turned to the Nebraska prairie and its fauna. He enrolled in the University of Nebraska in 1925, but physical and psychological crises kept him from graduating until eight years later. Near the end of his life, he recalled dropping out of college at least three times—to work in a poultry hatchery, to recuperate from tuberculosis in Colorado and the Mojave Desert (1928–1929), and to drift, riding the rails in the West (1930–1931). His father’s death in 1928 brought Eiseley to the brink of mental collapse. During this period, however, he worked on his first archaeological dig, published his first poetry, and cultivated a deep affinity for animals and landscape. In the same year he finished college (1933) Eiseley went to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate work in anthropology. He earned his Ph.D. in 1937, completing a dissertation titled “Three Indices of Quaternary Time and Their Bearing upon Pre-History: A Critique.” With this work an intensely private man began an unexpected career as a prominent public intellectual and literary naturalist....

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Zora Neale Hurston Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1938. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-79898).

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Hurston, Zora Neale (07 January 1891?–28 January 1960), writer and anthropologist, was born in Eatonville, Florida, the daughter of John Hurston, a Baptist minister and carpenter, and Lucy Ann Potts. John Hurston’s family had been Alabama tenant farmers until he moved to Eatonville, the first African-American town incorporated in the United States. He served three terms as its mayor and is said to have written Eatonville’s ordinances. Zora Neale Hurston studied at its Hungerford School, where followers of ...

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Oliver La Farge Photograph by Louis Fabian Bachrach, 1930. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-116958).

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La Farge, Oliver Hazard Perry (19 December 1901–02 August 1963), anthropologist, author, and advocate of American Indian reform and welfare, was born in New York City, the son of Christopher Grant La Farge, an architect, and Florence Bayard Lockwood. A descendant and namesake of ...

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Verrill, Alpheus Hyatt (23 July 1871–14 November 1954), author and anthropologist, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Addison Emery Verrill, a professor and curator of the Peabody Museum at Yale, and Flora Louisa Smith. He was educated at New Haven’s Hopkins Grammar School, the Yale School of Fine Arts, and in zoology and geology at the Yale Sheffield Scientific School. He married Kathryn L. McCarthy in 1892; they had one son and three daughters. Lida Ruth Shaw Kohler became his second wife in 1944; they had no children....