FARRAND, Livingston

Author Tags: Anthropology, First Nations, Physician Author

Livingstone Farrand’s work as a pioneer in B.C. anthropology is rarely cited because he was overshadowed by Franz Boas and because he proceeded to have distinguished careers in other realms. Mainly remembered today as a likeable physician who pioneered a major campaign against tuberculosis in the United States, Livingston Farrand was an assistant to Boas in 1897 when Boas and Harlan I. Smith made their first foray into British Columbia for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition.

The Jesup Expedition was named for Dr. Morris K. Jesup, president of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who had made his fortune at a young age in banking and railway finance. In 1884, at age 55, Jesup retired from business in order to concentrate on public service. Jesup embraced the vision of Franz Boas, who had arrived to serve as an assistant curator to F.W. Putnam, to conduct extensive research on both sides of the Bering Strait in order to corroborate the commonly-held theory of migration of indigenous peoples from Asia to North America, thus explaining the presence of relatively advanced cultures in the Pacific Northwest. Various Jesup excursions would result in 27 publications and secure Boas' position as the linchpin for anthropology in the Pacific Northwest.

Permitted to undertake one month of independent research in the Chilcotin area, Farrand subsequently published 32 Aboriginal stories in Traditions of the Chilcotin Indians (1900), demonstrating how some myths were evidently dispersed from tribe to tribe. That same year he published Basketry Designs of the Salish Indians (1900). After staying at Rivers Inlet and gathering “Myths of the Bella Bella” for publication by Boas in Tsimshian Mythology, Farrand returned several times to the Washington/Oregon coast for the Jesup Expedition and produced Traditions of the Quinault Indians (1902).

Born in 1867 in Newark, New Jersey, Livingstone Farrand graduated from Princeton University in 1888 and earned a medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. After studying at Cambridge in 1891 and in Berlin in 1892, he taught psychology at Columbia University in 1893. Fluent in German, he impressed his fellow faculty member Boas who enlisted Farrand as a travelling companion and assistant research in 1897.

After two more trips to the Pacific in 1900 and 1902, Farrand was appointed professor of anthropology at Columbia University in 1903. He then served as executive secretary of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis from 1905 to 1914, when he became president of the University of Colorado. He became the fourth president of Cornell University in 1921, serving for 16 years until 1937. He died in 1939.


Farrand, Livingston. Basketry Designs of the Salish Indians (New York: The Jesup North Pacific Expedition Publications, Volume 1, Part 5, 1900; New York, AMS Press, 1975).

Farrand, Livingston. Traditions of the Chilcotin Indians (New York: The Jesup North Pacific Expedition Publications, Volume 2, Part 1, 1900; New York: AMS Press, 1975).

Farrand, Livingston & W.S. Kahnweiler. Traditions of the Quinault Indians (New York: The Jesup North Pacific Expedition Publications, Volume 2, Part 3, 1902; New York: AMS Press, 1975).

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2005] "First Nations" "Anthropology"