New York Times


Noted as Anthropologist — Wrote “Why We Behave Like Humans Beings.”


Death Due to Embolism — Writer Had Seemed to Be In Perfect Health

Dr. George A. Dorsey, anthopologist and author, who is known to thousands of Americans as the author of “Why We Behave Like Human Beings,” died suddenly at 6 o’clock last night of an embolism at his home, 35 West Ninth Street, half an hour after receiving from his secretary the last sheets of the final revision of his new book, “On Civilization,” which is to be issued by Harpers in the Fall and which he had looked upon as the greatest work of his career. He was 63 years old.

No sign of ill health had been noticeable to Dr. Dorsey’s family and friends, though one or two persons had made mild references to the tremendous amount of work he had been doing. He had intended to speak over the radio at 8 o’clock last night, delivering a one-minute talk on anthropology in a weekly series. He had taken a bath and was dressing when he collapsed in his bedroom. His death was not discovered until some moments later, when his wife went to his room to call in response to a telephone call from a friend.

Besides Mrs. Dorsey, his second wife, who was Sue McLellan before their marriage, he is survived by a married daughter, and a son, George Chadsey Dorsey, both of his first marriage. The son, who was an aviator in the World War, is head of one of the departments of the Marshall Field store in Chicago.

Dr. Dorsey was born in Hebron, Ohio, the sone of Edwin J. And Mary Grove Dorsey. He received two Bachelor of Arts degrees — one in 1888 from Denison, which made him a Doctor of Laws in 1909, the second in 1890 from Harvard, which awarded him a Ph. D. In 1894.

His First Expedition at 23

He knew what he wanted to do from the start, for he was only 23 when he conducted an anthropological investigation in South America as part of a larger expedition sent out from Chicago. On his return in 1892 he became head of the archaeological branch of the department of anthropology at Harvard, remaining there until 1896. The Field Museum in Chicago then summoned him to be assistant curator of anthropology, and from 1898 until 1915 he held the post of curator there. From 1908 to 1915 he was also Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His work for the Field Museum took him to nearly every country in the world and from most of those he visited he brought back valuable material. On one occasion he took 150 tons of anthropological specimens out of China.

Besides undertaking researches in his special field of science, Dr. Dorsey had investigated the sources of emigration in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Serbia and Bulgaria, and had studied political conditions in India, China, Japan, Australia and South Africa. He had been a delegate to international congresses of anthropology, and was a member of the Jury of Awards in this field for the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.

Advisor of Peace Commission

In the World War Dr. Dorsey was a commissioned lieutenant in the Naval Reserve. In the later part of 1918 he was assistant naval attaché at Madrid, and in 1919-21 naval attaché at Lisbon. He was an adviser on Spanish problems to the American Commission to Negotiation Peace at Paris.

Before he published the book which, probably to his own astonishment, became a best-seller, Dr. Dorsey had only published one work, a novel, “Young Low,” first issued in 1917. After the success of “Why We Behave Like Human Beings.” the novel was brought out again in 1927. R. L. Duffus wrote in THE TIMES that it is “just such good talk as might be expected from a humane and versatile scientist in his leisure hours.” Having found his literary vein, Dr. Dorsey continued with “The Nature of Man,” “The Evolution of Charles Darwin,” and Hows and Whys of Human Behavior.”


Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2