Hooton, Earnest Albert, 1887-1954

Alternative names
Birth 1887-11-20
Death 1954-05-03

Biographical notes:

Hooton taught anthropology at Harvard.

From the description of Papers of Earnest Albert Hooton, 1932-1941 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76973070


From the description of Autobiography of Earnest Albert Hooton: typescript, undated. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79456362

Earnest Albert Hooton was born in Clemansville, Wisconsin on November 20, 1887. After graduating from Lawrence College ( Appleton, Wisconsin ) in 1907, he won a Rhodes Scholarship, but went first to the University of Wisconsin to receive an M.A. in classics in 1908 and a Ph.D. in 1911. While working on his Ph.D., his interest in anthropology was piqued by a classical book on tribes. At Oxford University, Hooton received a diploma in anthropology in 1912 and the B.Litt. in the same subject in 1913. He joined the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University as instructor in 1913. He married Mary Beidler Camp in 1913.

Hooton's first major archaeological excavation took place in the Canary Islands in 1915, where he researched the ancient Guanche people as part of a collaborative North African expedition with Oric Bates (Bates studied Berber populations). With his wife, Mary Beidler Camp, Hooton established his focus on physical anthropology: biological, racial, and geographic origins of ethnic groups. Hooton's career subsequently included research on the skeletal biology of prehistoric peoples, the relationship between criminal tendencies and physical characteristics; and the anthropology of individuals, or "constitutional studies," in which he used a modified version of Sheldon's somatotyping in attempts to prove a relationship between body form and behavior.

Hooton supervised a number of Peabody Museum --Harvard University Department of Anthropology expeditions, in which both archaeological and ethnographic work was done on single populations, such as the well known "Irish Survey" of the 1930s. He also pioneered a "data-crunching" statistics lab supported by IBM and the Rockefeller Institute using punch cards for data storage in the 1950s. This lab was instrumental in establishing his applied physical anthropology applications in the business community. As well, Hooton published on the importance of primate studies--what would later be the almost ubiquitous inclusion of primatology in anthropology departments by his former students. The interests of his former students helped define the range of physical anthropology as a major discipline well into the 1950s. Hooton died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 3, 1954 at the age of 67, a member of many distinguished professional organizations and the recipient of numerous awards and honors.


Giles, Eugene. "E.A. Hooton," in Winters, Christopher, ed. 1991. International Dictionary of Anthropologists.N.Y.: Garland Publishing, pp. 303-304. Howells, W.W. "Memoriam-Earnest Albert Hooton," American Journal of Physical Anthropology vol. 12 (1954), pp. 445-54 Ley, Ronald. "From the Caves of Tenerife to the Stores of the Peabody Museum," Anthropology Quarterly52 (5) 1979, pp. 160-64.

From the guide to the Papers of Earnest A. Hooton, 1926-1954., (Peabody Museum Archives, Harvard University)


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