International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Cora Du Bois (1903-1991) was an American anthropologist whose life spanned much of the twentieth century and whose professional career reflects major developments in the history of that discipline. In addition, Du Bois was a twentieth-century “first woman”, one of the few women of her generation to succeed in having a career that included both university teaching and research but also government service. During World War II, Du Bois served as a high-ranking intelligence officer and then as a Southeast Asia specialist in the State Department in Washington, D.C. Her prominence as an anthropologist was established during the 1930s when she did groundbreaking research in culture and personality. In 1954, Du Bois was appointed the Zemurray-Stone Radcliffe professor of anthropology and social relations at Harvard University, the university’s first tenured woman in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Keywords: Cultural anthropology | Second World War | “First woman” | 20th century | United States of America | Southeast Asia | Amerindian studies | Culture and personality | Ghost Dance religion | Harvard University