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E. Adamson Hoebel papers

Identifier: ua-00213

Scope and Content

This collection contains revisions for the third (1966) and fourth (1972) editions of his textbook, Anthropology: the Study of Man. It was first printed in 1949 as Man in the Primitive World. It was reprinted in 1958, with the same title, in 1966 and 1972 as Anthropology: the Study of Man, and in 1979 as Anthropology and the Human Experience. Also included is correspondence from his publisher for the same revisions and reprints of fourteen of Hoebel’s articles.


  • 1942-1972
  • (bulk 1965-1972)


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Note of E. Adamson Hoebel (1906-1993)

E. Adamson Hoebel, B.A. (1928) University of Wisconsin, M.A. (1930) New York University, Ph.D. Columbia University. Was a widely recognized cultural anthropologist known for his ground-breaking studies of pre-literate societies and their legal systems.

E. Adamson Hoebel was born November 16, 1906 in Madison, Wisconsin to Edward Charles Gilbert Hoebel and Kathryn Arnold Hoebel. Edward Charles Hoebel served as the vice president of the Madison Saddlery Company while Kathryn Arnold worked as the State of Wisconsin's Civil Service Commissioner.

E. Adamson Hoebel attended the University of Wisconsin where he received an undergraduate degree in sociology and economics in 1928. Hoebel earned a M.A. at New York University in 1930. He then enrolled as a doctoral student in Columbia University's Anthropology Department, which was headed by cultural anthropologists Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. Both Boas and Benedict were well known for their work with Native Americans. Hoebel expressed interest in also working with Native Americans but his interest lay with legal systems of the Plains Indians. As neither Boas nor Benedict had experience with this subtopic, Hoebel was referred to Karl N. Llewellyn, a professor in Columbia's Law School. Llewellyn served as Hoebel's advisor and together the two men formulated the theory that how a society settles its disputes is the fundamental basis of its legal code.

Following his graduation from Columbia, Hoebel served as a professor of anthropology and sociology at New York University from 1929 until 1948 while continuing to collaborate with Llewellyn on projects. This juncture between law and anthropology helped establish a model of modern interdisciplinary studies. The two produced The Cheyenne Way: Conflict and Case Law in Primitive Jurisprudence(1941).

In 1948 Hoebel became professor and head of the Anthropology Department at the University of Utah before heading to the University of Minnesota in 1954 where he served as chairman of the Department of Anthropology until 1968. In 1966 he was named Regent's Professor, the University of Minnesota's highest teaching honor. Hoebel retired in 1972 and was then named professor emeritus and adjunct professor of law. At the time of his retirement, Hoebel was nationally recognized authority on the development of law in preliterate societies. Hoebel wrote numerous articles on Native American jurisprudence as well as several important introductory textbooks including Man in the Primitive World: An Introduction to Anthropology(1949) and Anthropology: The Study of Men (1966).

Hoebel also served as president of the American Ethnological Society (1946-1947) and of the American Anthropological Association (1956-1957). In 1963 Hoebel became a member of the American Philosophical Society. E. Adamson Hoebel died on July 23, 1993.


1.25 Cubic Feet (1 box)


The collection consists of the papers of the E. Adamson Hoebel, professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, including drafts of revisions for the third (1966) and fourth (1972) editions of his book, Anthropology: The Study of Man, and correspondence from his publisher for the same revisions.


The papers are sorted by edition, and by chapter topic within each edition. There is one folder of reprinted publications.

Source of acquisition

Acquired as a gift from the E. A. Hoebel family on January 11, 1977.

Related Materials in University Archives

Hoebel’s papers from his membership on the University of Minnesota's Special Committee on University ROTC Relationships were merged with the Senate Committee on ROTC collection in 1976.

Other Related Materials

The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, PA holds the bulk of the E. Adamson Hoebel Papers. This collection contains correspondence, subject files, manuscripts of published and unpublished works by Hoebel, papers by colleagues and students, research notes by Hoebel, course materials and photographs which document Hoebel's career in anthropology.

E. Adamson Hoebel papers, 1942-1972
Andrea Pearson, revised by Greta Bahnemann
February 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

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