Thomas Talbot Waterman: American anthropologist (1885 - 1936) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Thomas Talbot Waterman
American anthropologist

Thomas Talbot Waterman

Thomas Talbot Waterman
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American anthropologist
A.K.A. T. T. Waterman
Was Anthropologist
From United States of America
Field Social science
Gender male
Birth 23 April 1885, Hamilton, Caldwell County, Missouri, USA
Death 6 January 1936, Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA (aged 50 years)
Star sign Taurus
Spouse: Grace Godwin (1910-)Ruth Dulaney (1927-)
Children: Helen MariaThomas Talbot Jr.
University of California Hebrew (-1907)
Columbia University, New York Anthropology 1909-1910
Columbia University, New York Ph.D., Anthropology (-1913)
The details


Thomas Talbot Waterman (23 April 1885 — 6 January 1936) was an American anthropologist.

Early life and education

Waterman was born on April 23, 1885, in Hamilton, Missouri, as the youngest of ten children of John Hayes Waterman and Catherine Shields Church of Mississippi. His father, John, was an Episcopalian clergyman of New England ancestry.

Waterman was raised in Fresno, California. He graduated from the University of California in 1907 with Hebrew as his major subject, intending to enter the clergy. However, following his interest in language, he decided to further his education in anthropology. His philological studies led him into a course in experimental phonetics offered by celebrated linguist Pliny Earle Goddard, whom he then accompanied on a field trip as an assistant in recording California Athabascan dialects. In 1909-10, he attended Columbia University, New York, and received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas in 1913. In anthropology, his interests were folk-lore, Aztec antiquities, Dieguefio and Duwamish ritual, Yana history, Yurok geography and institutions, Makah whaling, Paiute phonetics, and Yurok affixes, native American house types and poetry, Shakerism, Pueblo pottery ornament, race classification and the negro.


From 1907 to 1921, Waterman held both teaching and curatorial positions at the University of California; he was Museum Assistant in 1907-09, Instructor and Assistant Curator in 1910-14, Assistant Professor in 1914-18, and Associate Professor in 1920-21. From 1918 to 1920, he also served as Associate Professor at the University of Washington. 

From 1921 to 1922, he briefly joined the staff of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation as a field collector. He went on to hold positions at the National Museum of Guatemala, Fresno State College, University of Arizona, Territorial Normal College (Hawaii), and the University of Hawaii. After a year at the University of Arizona, he relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he taught in the Territorial Normal College and University of Hawaii, engaged in newspaper and public relations work, and was appointed Territorial Archivist a few

months before his death in 1936. 

Waterman is best known for bringing Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi people, from the town of Oroville, California, to the University of California Museum of Anthropology. 

Personal life

Waterman was twice married. In 1910, he married Grace Godwin, with whom he had two children: Helen Maria (born 1913) and Thomas T., Jr. (born 1916). From 1927, he was married to Ruth Dulaney. 


Waterman died on January 6, 1936, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was 50.

Selected books

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