Name File Type Size Last Modified
boas_family.sav application/x-spss-sav 1.6 MB 09/27/2019 12:03:PM
boas_family.txt text/plain 1.2 MB 09/27/2019 02:39:PM
boas_master.sav application/x-spss-sav 1.5 MB 09/27/2019 12:04:PM
boas_master.txt text/plain 969.1 KB 09/27/2019 12:04:PM
cdbk_boasfamily.pdf application/pdf 140.7 KB 09/27/2019 12:04:PM
cdbk_boasmaster.pdf application/pdf 105 KB 09/27/2019 12:03:PM

Project Citation: 

Gravlee, Clarence. Franz Boas's Immigrant Study. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-09-28.

Project Description

Summary:  View help for Summary In 1910, Franz Boas published the first results from his classic study, Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants. This landmark work became controversial almost immediately, as it challenged many prevailing ideas about human biology and race. The most striking finding at the time was that head shape—long thought to be a fixed, purely hereditary marker of race—was in fact sensitive to changes in environment within a single generation.

Boas’s most impressive response to the controversy was his decision in 1928 to publish 504 pages of raw, handwritten data from the immigrant study as Materials for the Study of Inheritance in Man (New York: Columbia University Press). He explained: "It seemed necessary to make the data accessible, because a great many questions relating to heredity and environmental influences may be treated by means of this material." In the same spirit, here we provide the machine-readable data set that is the basis of our published reanalysis of Boas’s data set.

The data are provided in two structures:
  • Files labeled "master" are formatted to match Boas’s original. Each individual is assigned to a unique case.
  • Files labeled "family" facilitate parent-offspring comparisons. Second-generation immigrants are assigned to cases, with data for each descendant’s mother and father assigned as variables.
Both data structures are available as SPSS files (.sav) and as ASCII text.

Scope of Project

Subject Terms:  View help for Subject Terms human biology; stature; cephalic index; race; immigration; plasticity; biological anthropology
Geographic Coverage:  View help for Geographic Coverage New York, NY
Collection Date(s):  View help for Collection Date(s) 1908 – 1910
Universe:  View help for Universe Immigrants and their offspring in New York City from seven groups: Bohemian, Central Italian, Hebrew, Hungarian and Slovak, Polish, Scotch, and Sicilian.
Data Type(s):  View help for Data Type(s) other
Collection Notes:  View help for Collection Notes See Boas's original publications on the immigrant study for technical details about the collection of anthropometric data. See Gravlee et al. (2003) for details about data entry and data quality in the machine-readable files.


Data Source:  View help for Data Source Boas, Franz. 1928. Materials for the Study of Inheritance in Man. Vol. VI, Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press.

Related Publications

Published Versions

Export Metadata

Report a Problem

Found a serious problem with the data, such as disclosure risk or copyrighted content? Let us know.

This material is distributed exactly as it arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the investigator(s) if further information is desired.