Theodora Kroeber

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Theodora Kroeber
Born Theodora Kracaw
(1897-03-24)March 24, 1897
Denver, Colorado
Died July 4, 1979(1979-07-04) (aged 82)
Berkeley, California
Education UC Berkeley
Occupation Writer, Anthropologist
Spouse(s) Clifton Spencer Brown 1921-1923, Alfred Louis Kroeber 1926-1960, John Harrison Quinn 1969-1979
Children Karl, Ursula, Ted, Clifton
Parent(s) Charles Emmett Kracaw, Phoebe Jane Johnson

Theodora Kracaw Kroeber Quinn (March 24, 1897 – July 4, 1979) was a writer and anthropologist, best known for her accounts of Ishi, the last member of the Yahi tribe of California, and for her retelling of traditional narratives from several Native Californian cultures.

Theodora Kracaw was born in Colorado, the daughter of Phebe Jane (née Johnston) and Charles Emmett Kracaw.[1]:122 She later moved to California, where she studied at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1920 she earned her master's degree in clinical psychology. In 1921 she married Clifton Spencer Brown. They had two children, Theodore and Clifton, before Brown's untimely death in 1923.

Encouraged by her mother-in-law, the widowed Theodora went back to study anthropology at U. C. Berkeley. One of her professors was Alfred Louis Kroeber, a leading American anthropologist of his generation and himself a widower. They married in 1926. Alfred Kroeber adopted Theodora's two sons, giving them his last name, and Alfred and Theodora had two more children, writer Ursula K. Le Guin and English professor Karl Kroeber.

Theodora Kroeber accompanied her husband on his field trips, and was immersed in his academic and social life. In 1959, she published The Inland Whale, a retelling of California Indian legends, and in 1961, she published her acclaimed biography of Ishi. She also wrote a biography of Alfred Kroeber after his death in 1960.[2] Two movies were made based on her account of Ishi: Ishi: The Last of His Tribe (1978) and The Last of His Tribe (1992).

In 1970, she married John Harrison Quinn, an editor 30 years her junior.

Selected works[edit]

  • The Inland Whale. Illustrated by Joseph Crivy. 1959. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
  • Ishi in Two Worlds: a biography of the last wild Indian in North America. 1961. Berkley Books.
  • Ishi, Last of His Tribe. Illus. Ruth Robbins. 1964. Parnassus Press, Berkeley, California.
  • Almost Ancestors: The First Californians. Kroeber and Robert F. Heizer. 1968. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.
  • Alfred Kroeber: A Personal Configuration. 1970. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Drawn from Life: California Indians in Pen and Brush. Compiled by Kroeber, Robert F. Heizer and Albert B. Elsasser. 1976. Ballena Press, Socorro, New Mexico.
  • Ishi, the Last Yahi: A Documentary History. Kroeber and Robert F. Heizer. 1979. University of California Press, Berkeley.
A Green Christmas. Picture book illus. John M. Larrecq. 1967. Parnassus Press. OCLC 18915968
Carrousel. Illus. Douglas Tait. 1977. Atheneum Books. OCLC 2798160.


  1. ^ Kroeber, Theodora (1970). Alfred Kroeber; a personal configuration. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520015982. 
  2. ^ "Kroeber, Theodora". Social Networks and Archival Context. University of Virginia. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 

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