Franz Boasâ¿¿s Immigrant Study

Resource Type
Dataset : other
  • Gravlee, Clarence C. (University of Florida)
  • Leonard, William W. (Northwestern University)
  • Bernard, H. Russell (University of Florida)
Publication Date
Free Keywords
human biology; stature; cephalic index; race; immigration; plasticity; biological anthropology
  • Abstract

    In 1910, Franz Boas published the first results from his classic study, Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants. This landmark work became controversial almost immediately, as it challenged many prevailing ideas about human biology and race. The most striking finding at the time was that head shapeâ¿¿long thought to be a fixed, purely hereditary marker of raceâ¿¿was in fact sensitive to changes in environment within a single generation.

    Boasâ¿¿s most impressive response to the controversy was his decision in 1928 to publish 504 pages of raw, handwritten data from the immigrant study as Materials for the Study of Inheritance in Man (New York: Columbia University Press). He explained: "It seemed necessary to make the data accessible, because a great many questions relating to heredity and environmental influences may be treated by means of this material." In the same spirit, here we provide the machine-readable data set that is the basis of our published reanalysis of Boasâ¿¿s data set.

    The data are provided in two structures:
    • Files labeled "master" are formatted to match Boasâ¿¿s original. Each individual is assigned to a unique case.
    • Files labeled "family" facilitate parent-offspring comparisons. Second-generation immigrants are assigned to cases, with data for each descendantâ¿¿s mother and father assigned as variables.
    Both data structures are available as SPSS files (.sav) and as ASCII text.
Temporal Coverage
  • 1908-01-01 / 1910-12-31
    Collection Date(s): Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1908--Sat Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 1910
Geographic Coverage
  • New York, NY
Sampled Universe
Immigrants and their offspring in New York City from seven groups: Bohemian, Central Italian, Hebrew, Hungarian and Slovak, Polish, Scotch, and Sicilian.
Collection Mode
  • See Boas's original publications on the immigrant study for technical details about the collection of anthropometric data. See Gravlee et al. (2003) for details about data entry and data quality in the machine-readable files.

  • Cites
    DOI: 10.1525/aa.2003.105.2.326 (Text)
  • Cites
    DOI: 10.1525/aa.2003.105.1.125 (Text)
  • Boas, Franz. Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants. New York: Columbia University Press, 1912.
  • Boas, Franz. â¿¿Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants.⿝ Washington, DC: United States Senate, 1910.
  • Boas, Franz. â¿¿Changes in the Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants.⿝ American Anthropologist 14, no. 3 (1912): 530â¿¿562.
  • Gravlee, Clarence C., H. Russell Bernard, and William R. Leonard. â¿¿Boasâ¿¿s Changes in Bodily Form: The Immigrant Study, Cranial Plasticity, and Boasâ¿¿s Physical Anthropology.⿝ American Anthropologist 105, no. 2 (June 2003): 326â¿¿32.
    • ID: 10.1525/aa.2003.105.2.326 (DOI)
  • Gravlee, Clarence C., H. Russell Bernard, and William R. Leonard. â¿¿Heredity, Environment, and Cranial Form: A Reanalysis of Boasâ¿¿s Immigrant Data.⿝ American Anthropologist 105, no. 1 (March 2003): 125â¿¿38.
    • ID: 10.1525/aa.2003.105.1.125 (DOI)

Update Metadata: 2019-10-15 | Issue Number: 3 | Registration Date: 2019-09-28