Kaj Birket-Smith

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Anthropologist Frederica Annis Lopez de Leo de Laguna (1906-2004) [1] at a 1937 symposium with Kaj Birket-Smith (right), where they presented a joint paper on Alaskan ethnology.

Kaj Birket-Smith (20 January 1893 – 28 October 1977) was a Danish philologist and anthropologist. He specialized in studying the habits and language of the Inuit and Eyak. He was a member of Knud Rasmussen's 1921 Thule expedition. In 1940, he became director of the Ethnographic Department of the National Museum of Denmark.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Sophus Birket-Smith

Kaj Birket-Smith was the son of Danish librarian and literary historian Sophus Birket-Smith and wife, Ludovica (born Nielsen). He received his Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1937. He was a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog.

In 1920, Kaj and Minna Birket-Smith wed. Kaj Birket-Smith died in 1977, aged 84.


  • Geographical Society Hans Egede Medal
  • Royal Anthropological Institute's Huxley medal
  • Loubat Prize

Partial works[edit]

  • (1916). The Greenland bow. København: Bianco Lunos bogtr.
  • (1918). A geographic study of the early history of the Algonquian Indians
  • (1920). Ancient artefacts from the Eastern United States
  • (1924). Ethnography of the Egedesminde District with Aspects of the General Culture of West Greenland
  • (1925). Preliminary report of the Fifth Thule Expedition Physical anthropology, linguistics, and material culture
  • (1928). On the origin of Eskimo culture
  • (1928). Five hundred Eskimo words: A comparative vocabulary from Greenland and Central Eskimo dialects
  • (1928). The Greenlanders of the present day
  • (1928). Physiography of West Greenland
  • (1929). The Caribou Eskimos. Material and social life and their cultural position
  • (1929). Drinking-tube and tobacco pipe in North America
  • (1930). Contributions to Chipewyan ethnology
  • (1933). Geographical notes on the Barren
  • (1938). The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska
  • (1940). Anthropological observations of the Central Eskimos
  • (1943). The origin of maize cultivation


  1. ^ Collins, Jr., Henry B. (1946). "Anthropology during the War. II. Scandinavia". American Anthropologist (Blackwell Publishing) 48 (1): 141–144. doi:10.1525/aa.1946.48.1.02a00340. JSTOR 662818.