Paul Friedrich was born October 22, 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Carl J. Friedrich (1901-1984) and Lenore Pelham Friedrich (b. 1901). He attended Williams College (1945-1946) before joining the Army (1946-1947). He was stationed in Germany and, because of his language skills, acted as an interrogator. After completing his service, Friedrich transferred to Harvard College, where he studied languages, comparative literature, and intellectual history. He was awarded a BA cum laude in General Studies in 1951. That same year he also received his MA in Russian from Harvard University. At Yale University, Friedrich majored in ethnology and minored in linguistics. His Ph.D. was conferred in 1957.
Friedrich joined the University of Chicago’s Anthropology Department as Associate Professor in 1963. He became Professor of Anthropology, 1968; Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics, 1969-1991; and Professor of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Social Thought in 1991. The subjects he has taught at the University of Chicago indicate a range of expertise, examples being: Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Homer’s “Odyssey”, Malayalam, Russian culture, Vedic Sanskrit, and early Greek philology.
From the guide to the Friedrich, Paul. Papers, 1953-1984, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)