Recently, some neo-Boasian anthropologists have portrayed Boas as an anthropologist with a deep sense of history, of the individual, and of agency. Focusing on Boas's ethnographic practice rather than his theoretical and programmatic statements, I first find an ‘atomistic’ (opposite of holistic) ethnographer, and a deep convergence between this atomism and Linnaean-type natural history. In Foucault and Jacob's interpretation of natural history, this means studying socio-cultural phenomena through their external manifestations, and removes historicity, and even individual cultures, from Boas's ethnography. Reviewing possible counter-evidence from the holistic Boas (his work on style, meaning, the ‘genius of a people,’ texts, secondary explanations, and psychology), I retrieve the same natural historian, and the same atomism. All these facets of his practice thus appear as surface manifestations of this underlying épistémè, which provides a single interpretative framework making it possible to integrate most of his ethnographic work. Overall, this worldview leaves little, or no, room for individuals and their agency.