George Amos Dorsey

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George Amos Dorsey
Born February 6, 1868
Hebron, Ohio
Died March 29, 1931
New York
Nationality U.S.
Children Dorothy Ann Dorsey, George Chadsey Dorsey
Parents Edwin Jackson and Mary Emma (nee Grove) Dorsey

George Amos Dorsey (February 6, 1868 – March 29, 1931) was an U.S. ethnographer of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a special focus on Caddoan and Siouan tribes.

Dorsey was born in Hebron, Ohio, to Edwin Jackson and Mary Emma (nee Grove) Dorsey.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University in 1888, then a second Bachelor's Degree in anthropology in 1890 at Harvard university, and finally PhD in 1894 on An Archaeological Study Based on a Personal Exploration of Over One Hundred Graves at the Necropolis of Ancon, Peru., the first PhD in anthropology from Harvard, and the second ever awarded in the United States.

In the 1890s Charles Frederick Newcombe, Dorsey and a Scottish guide named James Deans were travelling to gather artefacts that might be of ethnographic interest. Their methods varied, but they frequently held little regard for the native Canadians. The local missionary, John Henry Keen had to angrily take them to task after he found they had not only raided graves but also not restored them to their former state. Keen found hair and coffins strewn about from where they had dug to steal skulls and bones. Keen wrote to complain about the desecration and challenged Dean to name his accomplices although he was clear that the benefactor of their work was the Field Columbian Museum and that the perpetrators were Americans. George Dorsey was known for his haste in finding artefacts was told of Keen's letter to the "Daily Colonist" and he argued that Keen's anger should be ignored.[1]

He became an assistant and instructor in anthropology at Harvard until 1896 when he joined the staff of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.[2]

He married Ida Chadsey on December 8, 1892. They separated in April, 1914, and were subsequently divorced; Ida died in 1937. Dorsey later married Sue McLellan.

Dorsey died in New York.


Many more of his works are available at the Internet Archive.


  1. ^ Cole, John (1995). Captured heritage: the scramble for Northwest Coast artifacts p175. UBC Press. 
  2. ^ "George A. Dorsey". Britannica Academic Edition. Britannica. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  • George A. Dorsey and the Development of Plains Indian Anthropology Raymond J. DeMallie and Douglas R. Parks, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC 2002

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