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Anthropology Days at the 1904 World’s Fair

Susan Brownell, Anthropology chair at University of Missouri-St. Louis, told and showed us details about one of the more unusual sporting events in the history of World’s Fairs.

The Anthropology Days were organized by William J. McGee (the Fair’s Director of Ethnology) and James Sullivan (the Fair’s Director of Athletics), leading figures in American anthropology and sports in 1904. McGee recruited Natives from around the world who were participating in the Fair’s ethnic displays to compete in sports events, with the “scientific” goal of measuring the physical prowess of “savages” as compared with “civilized men.” This affected both the early development of Anthropology and the modern Olympic movement. Susan has authored a 2008 book titled The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games: Sport, Race, and American Imperialism. (Hits: 7598)

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