Wissler, Clark

Wissler, Clark, 1870–1947, American anthropologist, b. Wayne, Ind., grad. Indiana Univ., 1897, Ph.D. Columbia, 1901. At first a teacher of psychology, he became interested in anthropology under Franz Boas at Columbia. In 1902 he began an affiliation with the American Museum of Natural History that lasted until his retirement in 1942. Wissler increased ethnographic studies by sending out numerous field expeditions and by launching an ambitious publication program of which he was editor. His interest in the geographical foundations and regional distribution of culture led him to the concept of “culture area” that has played an important role in the ordering and interpretation of ethnographic data. Wissler was associated with Yale from 1924 to 1940, first with the new Institute of Psychology and later with its successor, the Institute of Human Relations. He became the first professor in the department of anthropology established at Yale in 1931. In addition to numerous monographs, his works include North American Indians of the Plains (1912, 4th ed. 1948), The American Indian (1917, 3d ed. 1957), The Relation of Nature to Man in Aboriginal America (1926), and Indians of the United States (1949).

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