Two faces of earnest A. Hooton


  • Eugene Giles

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801
    • Department of Anthropology, 109 Davenport Hall, University of Illinois, 607 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801-3635
    Search for more papers by this author


The American Anthropological Association's multimedia project, “Race: Are We So Different?” alleges that Earnest A. Hooton (1887–1954) of Harvard University was a racist eugenicist who “perhaps more than any other scientist of his time… did more to establish racial stereotypes…” and infers racism from his having sat on a National Research Council Committee on the Negro in the 1920s. I take issue with this perspective to argue against Hooton as a racist by exploring Hooton's relationship with African American students, particularly Caroline Bond Day, and with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when it awarded a medal to Charles R. Drew, M.D. In the heyday of eugenics, Hooton was an atypical eugenicist in espousing a resolutely nonracial view of the woes of humankind perpetuated by what he considered the biologically unfit. As eugenics and Nazism became conflated in the late 1930s, Hooton hewed to a path that was more antiracist than many of his anthropological colleagues and publicly disputed Nazi racial ideology. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.