Heredity, environment, and cranial form: A reanalysis of Boas's immigrant data

Clarence C. Gravlee, Harvey Bernard, William R. Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

88 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Franz Boas's classic study, Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants, is a landmark in the history of anthropology. More than any single study, it undermined racial typology in physical anthropology and helped turn the tide against early-20th-century scientific racism. In 1928, Boas responded to critics of the immigrant study by publishing the raw data set as Materials for the Study of Inheritance in Man. Here we present a reanalysis of that long-neglected data set. Using methods that were unavailable to Boas, we test his main conclusion that cranial form changed in response to environmental influences within a single generation of European immigrants to the United States. In general, we conclude that Boas got it right. However, we demonstrate that modern analytical methods provide stronger support for Boas's conclusion than did the tools at his disposal. We suggest future areas of research for this historically important data set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Volume105
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

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heredity
immigrant
anthropology
racism
critic
typology
history
Immigrants
Boas
Heredity
Reanalysis

Keywords

  • Cranial form
  • Environment
  • Franz Boas
  • Heredity
  • Immigrant study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Heredity, environment, and cranial form : A reanalysis of Boas's immigrant data. / Gravlee, Clarence C.; Bernard, Harvey; Leonard, William R.

In: American Anthropologist, Vol. 105, No. 1, 01.01.2003, p. 125-138.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Gravlee, Clarence C. ; Bernard, Harvey ; Leonard, William R. / Heredity, environment, and cranial form : A reanalysis of Boas's immigrant data. In: American Anthropologist. 2003 ; Vol. 105, No. 1. pp. 125-138.
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