History of the Foundation

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International Symposium on Anthropology audience
"international Symposium on Anthropology" session. Front row: Ralph Linton and S.F. Nadel. Row immediately behind: Robert Lowie, Robert Heizer, Kenneth Oakley

The first, "great" symposium mounted by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, with one very ambitious goal -- "to assess the state of anthropology" --  the International Symposium on Anthropology was an international undertaking (even though the majority of those who attended were from the United States).

After establishing the conference framework, individuals with the necessary expertise had to be identified to write 50 papers that would attempt to provide an encyclopedic iinventory of the current knowledge of anthropology at that time.  Once the papers written and distributed to participants prior to the actual meetings in June 1952, the symposium eventually convened over eighty scholars from the major regions of the world for 12 days of presentations and discussion in a professional stocktaking, where they exchanged views on the various problems the presentations posed, appraised the state of the science they represented, and examined probable future directions of research and the promise these might hold.

cover of Anthropology TodayThe papers contributed to International Symposium on Anthropology were published in two volumes: "Anthropology Today: An Encyclopedic Inventory" (prepared under the chairmanship of A.L. Kroeber) and its companion volume, "An Appraisal of Anthropology Today," edited by Sol Tax, Loren Eiseley, Irving Rouse, and Carl Voegelin.  The symposium also sponsored the "International Directory of Anthropological Institutions" published in 1953.

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