Article

Lewis Henry Morgan

Robert Launay

in Anthropology

ISBN: 9780199766567
Published online January 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0050
Lewis Henry Morgan

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Lewis Henry Morgan (b. 1818–d. 1881) is considered one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology. As a young lawyer in Rochester, New York, he founded a local club, The Grand Order of the Iroquois, whose members championed Iroquois rights to their land, claimed by the Ogden Company. In the process, he acquired a more systematic interest in Iroquois culture. His researches among them led to the publication of a book-length study. His later discovery that patterns of kinship terminology in other, even unrelated, Indian cultures were very similar to those of the Iroquois launched a systematic survey of kinship nomenclature that provided a template for modern studies of kinship in anthropology. While he was working on kinship terminology, he also conducted an extensive, pioneering field study of the activities of beavers. Toward the end of his life, he formulated a grand scheme of social evolution focusing on progress in the domains of technology, government, family, and property. His work attracted the favorable attention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but it was sharply criticized by a subsequent generation of anthropologists, especially followers of Franz Boas in the United States, who were skeptical of grand evolutionary schemes. Nonetheless, his work remains an enduring influence in the discipline.

Article.  6916 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology ; Human Evolution ; Medical Anthropology ; Physical Anthropology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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