W. W. (William White) Howells papers
Conditions Governing Access
Extent20 linear feet
After graduation, Howells accepted a research associate position at the American Museum of Natural History in 1934 where he conducted his first population study on a large collection of crania from Melanesia. In 1937 Howells joined the anthropology department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he further developed his research and statistical analysis skills. While at the University of Wisconsin, Howells began to write for a broad public audience in addition to the scientific community, producing Mankind So Far in 1944. Due to his outreach to larger audience, Howells went on to become the most widely translated of physical anthropologists.
By 1954, Howells had become a leader in the field of anthropology. In 1951 he was elected president of the American Anthropology Association. From 1949-1954, he served as editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and in 1954, he was awarded a Viking Fund Medal. Upon Earnest A. Hooton's sudden death in 1954, Howells was named Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. He remained on the teaching faculty of Harvard until 1973 and was an extremely popular lecturer.
The research for which Howells is best known is the quantitative assessment of human cranial variation. (see Howell's Cranial Variation in Man: A Study by Multivariate Analysis of Patterns of Difference among Recent Human Populations. Peabody Museum Papers. vol. 67) By establishing population relationships through physical measurement, Howells was influential in freeing physical anthropology from racial typology.
Howells continued his research after retiring from teaching in 1973. He expanded upon his 1973 cranial studies with two additions to the Peabody Press publications in 1989 (Skull Shapes and the Map: Craniometric Analyses of the Dispersion of Modern Homo),and in 1995 (Who's Who in Skulls: Ethnic Identification of Crania from Measurements), published at the age of 87. These data sets were also made available online.
Howells continued to accumulate honors in retirement. In 1978 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Anthropological Association, and in 1992, the Charles Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists . In 1993 the William W. Howells Book Prize for general books in physical anthropology was created in his honor by the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association. In 1998 Howells and his wife, Muriel, endowed the Howells Directorship at the Peabody Museum. Howells passed away in Kittery Point, Maine on December 20, 2005 at the age of 97.
- Friedlaender, Jonathan, with contributions from David Pilbeam,Daniel Hrdy,Eugene Giles, and RogerGreen. "William White Howells, 1908-2005: A Biographical Memoir." National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. 2007.
- McHenry,Henry H. and Eric Delson. "Obituary: William White Howells (1908-2005)" in American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 135:249-251. 2008.
- SaraGorecki. "William Howells, 1908-". eMuseum@Minnesota State University, Mankato.http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/fghij/howells_william.html.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Analysis of variance
- Anthropometry -- Solomon Islands
- Christian sects
- Evolution (biology)
- Field notes
- Human anatomy -- Variation
- Human evolution
- Hutterian Brethren -- Anthropometry
- Mathematical statistics
- Multivariate analysis
- Physical anthropology
- Physical anthropology -- Methodology
- Pueblo of Cochiti, New Mexico
- Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico
- Research (document genres)
- Research grants
- Solomon Islands Project
- Variation (biology)
- Howells, W. W. (William White), 1908-2005, Papers: A Finding Aid
- Peabody Museum Archives
- EAD ID
Part of the Peabody Museum Archives Repository
The Peabody Museum Archives contains primary source materials that reflect the Museum’s archaeological and ethnographic research and fieldwork since its founding in 1866. Archival collections contain photographs, documents, papers, and records of enduring value that were created or collected by the Museum, its individual affiliates, or other related entities. The collections also document the history or provenience, as well as the creation of many of the Museum’s artifact collections. To learn more about research visits at the Peabody Museum, please see https://www.peabody.harvard.edu/research-visits.
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