Department History


Anthropologist Frederick Wulsin, then working for US War Department on research relating to soldiers in extreme weather conditions, met Tufts President Leonard Carmichael who was also working in Washington on the war effort. Carmichael hired Wulsin to come to Tufts as a lecturer in Anthropology.


Wulsin was promoted to professor. The Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History notes that he was "fast becoming one of the most popular professors on campus. Oftentimes during spring, Wulsin taught classes outside lying on his stomach with his head in one hand."


Frederick Wulsin retired.


Wilbert Carter, an Arctic archaeologist with an MA, arrived from Harvard to work in the Tufts Sociology Department where he taught all four fields of Anthropology.


Anthropology was first offered as a stand-alone major at Tufts.


The Sociology Department was renamed the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Early 2000s

With four tenured anthropologists (Stephen Bailey, David Guss, Deborah Pacini Hernandez, and Rosalind Shaw), Anthropology at Tufts began to develop its own identity and signature pedagogy. Faculty developed a range of community partnerships and courses under the rubric of "public anthropology," showcasing the unique contributions of ethnographic methods and anthropological analysis in public settings and projects.


With the Departments of Anthropology at Brandeis University and Wellesley College, Tufts was a founding partner in the Greater Boston Anthropology Consortium (GBAC), which expanded a sense of intellectual community for both faculty and students through conferences, roundtables, and lectures over the next decade.


Anthropology became an independent department, with Rosalind Shaw as its first chair.


Tufts anthropologists moved from their longtime home in the basement of Eaton Hall to 126 Curtis Street, a space shared with the Department of Religion.


After two years on the edge of campus, the Departments of Anthropology and Religion moved into another shared home on the top floor of Eaton Hall.