Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 247–285

“In Ways Unacademical”: The Reception of Carleton S. Coon's The Origin of Races

  • John P. JacksonJr.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1010366015968

Cite this article as:
Jackson, J.P. Journal of the History of Biology (2001) 34: 247. doi:10.1023/A:1010366015968


This paper examines the controversy surrounding anthropologist CarletonS. Coon's 1962 book, The Origin of Races. Coon maintained that thehuman sspecies was divided into five races before it had evolved into Homo sapiens and that the races evolved into sapiens at different times. Coon's thesis was used by segregationists in the United States as proof that African Americans were “junior” to white Americans and hence unfit for full participation in American society. The paper examines the interactions among Coon, segregationist Carleton Putnam, geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, and anthropologist Sherwood Washburn. The paper concludes that Coon actively aided the segregationist cause in violation of his own standards for scientific objectivity.

Carleton S. Coonhuman evolutionhuman geneticsphysical anthropologySherwood Washburnscience and politicsTheodosius Dobzhansky

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. JacksonJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA