Kroeber, Theodora

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Theodora Kroeber was born Theodora Covel Kracaw, in Denver, Colo. on Mar. 24, 1897. Kroeber, a writer, authored the book "Ishi in Two Worlds" (1961). Kroeber's second husband was the anthropologist, A.L. Kroeber.

From the description of Theodora Kroeber papers, 1881-1983 (bulk 1960-1979). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 84653243

Born Theodora Covel Kracaw in Denver Colo. in 1897. Married Clifton Spencer Brown in 1921, Alfred L. Kroeber in 1926, and John Quinn in 1970. Best known for her book Ishi in Two Worlds.

From the description of Theodora Kroeber photograph albums [graphic]. ca. 1900-ca. 1950s. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 80583930

Biographical Information

Theodora Kroeber was born Theodora Covel Kracaw in Denver, Colorado on March 24, 1897. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, and received two degrees in psychology, a B.A. in 1919, followed by an M.A. in 1920.

In July 1921, she married Clifton Spencer Brown in Berkeley. The birth of two children, Theodore and Clifton B., soon followed. Clifton S. Brown died in October, 1923. At the encouragement of her mother-in law, Theodora Kroeber went back to U.C. Berkeley to pursue graduate work in anthropology. It was at this time she met and studied under Alfred Louis Kroeber. In March, 1926, they were married, and she once again settled down to family life, and gave birth to two more children, Karl and Ursula.

This was by no means the end to her intellectual life. She was still immersed in the academic community of Berkeley, as she entertained A. L. Kroeber's colleagues and students and Native Americans who came to their home. She accompanied Alfred on his field trips to Peru (1928-1929 and 1942), and to the Yurok and Mohave country (1930-1958).

After her children had grown, she used the information she had gathered on her travels and from her associations with A. L. Kroeber's colleagues to write The Inland Whale . Published in 1959, it was an academic success. Although she had written a few articles previously, this was the true beginning of her writing career--at the age of 62. She followed two years later with the publication of Ishi in Two Worlds in 1961. The sources she drew from were Ishi's "white men and women friends," one of whom was her husband, A. L. Kroeber. Unfortunately, he was not able to see this project completed. He died in 1960, a year before the book was published. Soon after its publication, Ishi in Two Worlds became a best seller. Theodora Kroeber was brought to the public's attention and forced into the limelight. Even though she had never met the man, she was now the authority on this new American hero. Letters, fan mail and requests for appearances came pouring in from people who were touched by the story of Ishi.

Her writing career flourished and she spent the next 20 years of her life writing and publishing stories, poetry, novels and articles, including "Poem for the Living," which was another popular success, and Alfred Kroeber, A Personal Configuration, a biography of her late husband. She also oversaw the publication of Yurok Myths and Karok Myths, two unpublished works by A. L. Kroeber.

In December, 1970, she married once again, this time to a man 40 years her junior. John Harrison had served as one of her editors for Almost Ancestors .

In 1977, Governor Jerry Brown asked her to fill an unexpired term on the University of California Board of Regents, and she accepted. Serving in this position was too exhausting for her, so less than a year after being appointed, she resigned. She died of cancer in her Berkeley home on July 4, 1979.

From the guide to the Theodora Kroeber papers, 1881-1983, 1960-1979, (The Bancroft Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Hanks, Jane Richardson, 1908-. Jane Richardson Hanks collection on Alfred Kroeber, 1951-2002. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Colaw, Cecelia Watson. Letters, 1961 Nov. 30 & 1962 Feb. 13, Wichita, Kan. to Denver Public Library. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn Society of Woman Geographers. Society of Woman Geographers records, 1925-1998. Library of Congress
referencedIn Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966. Papers, 1681-1966 (bulk 1900-1960) Houghton Library
referencedIn Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. A.L. Kroeber family photographs [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Kroeber, Theodora. Theodora Kroeber photograph albums [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. A.L. Kroeber papers, 1869-1972. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Trumbo, Dalton, 1905-1976. Ishi : screenplay, [ca. 1965] / by Dalton Trumbo and Christopher Trumbo. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Dell H. Hymes Papers, 1947-1992 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Gray, Harry. Women of California [sound recording] / recorded by Harry Gray, 1973-1974. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. A.L. Kroeber papers, 1869-1972. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Harvey Pitkin Papers, 1884-1968 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Theodora Kroeber papers, 1881-1983, 1960-1979 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Kroeber, Theodora. Theodora Kroeber cookbooks, circa 1967-1979. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Society of Woman Geographers Records, 1910-1998 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Kroeber, Theodora. Theodora Kroeber papers, 1881-1983 (bulk 1960-1979). UC Berkeley Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Brower, David Ross, 1912-2000 person
correspondedWith Brown, Jerry, 1938- person
correspondedWith Cody, Fred, 1916-1983 person
associatedWith Colaw, Cecelia Watson. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Hanks, Jane Richardson, 1908- person
correspondedWith Heizer, Robert F. (Robert Fleming), 1915-1979 person
associatedWith Hymes, Dell H. person
associatedWith Ishi, d. 1916. person
associatedWith Kracaw family family
associatedWith Kracaw family family
associatedWith Kracaw family family
associatedWith Kracaw, Forest Charles. person
associatedWith Kroeber, A. L. (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960. person
associatedWith Kroeber family family
correspondedWith Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929- person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Pitkin, Harvey person
associatedWith Pope, Saxton T. (Saxton Temple), 1875-1926. person
correspondedWith Robbins, Ruth person
correspondedWith Robbins, Ruth person
correspondedWith Singer, Milton B. person
associatedWith Society of Woman Geographers. corporateBody
associatedWith Trumbo, Dalton, 1905-1976. person
correspondedWith Valory, Dale person
associatedWith Waterman, T. T. (Thomas Talbot), b. 1885. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New Mexico
Telluride (Colo.)
Mesa Verde National Park (Colo.)
Authors, American--20th century
Publishers and publishing--History--20th century
Women authors, American--20th century


Birth 1897-03-24

Death 1979-07-04





Ark ID: w6s75kp8

SNAC ID: 35750971