International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

John Alden Mason (1885-1967) received a PhD in anthropology in 1911 from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied under Alfred L. Kroeber (1876-1960). In 1911 Mason did his first fieldwork in the area of oral folklore and in Mexico under Franz Boas’s supervision, an experience that earned him a position as his assistant during Boas’s trip to Puerto Rico in 1915. The Penn Museum, an institution for which Mason served as Curator of the American Section from 1926 until his retirement in 1955, celebrates him as “one of the last of the great generalist anthropologists of the 20th century”. But his legacy is inseparable from Mason’s descriptive ethnography and the folk materials he compiled.

Keywords: Folklore | Mexico | Puerto Rico | Oral literature | Franz Boas | Alfred Kroeber | University of California, Berkeley | Penn Museum

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