Lewis Henry Morgan and the Invention of Kinship

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This is a study of anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan's seminal work, Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1871. The final chapter discusses Morgan's communication with Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry throughout the lengthy publication process, and Henry's initial reluctance to publish Morgan's work. Systems of Consanguinity was the seventh volume in the Smithsonian's Contributions to Knowledge series and at over 600 pages, was the most expensive work it had published to date. Due to its length and because the Smithsonian had other works in line to be printed, the book was not published for more than three years after Morgan submitted the manuscript. The final manuscript was significantly different from a version that had been submitted for publication in 1865 but was delayed by the Smithsonian's recovery from a major fire in January of that year (chapter 6).


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Morgan, Lewis Henry 1818-1881
  • Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge (Publication)


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Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu




  • Fire
  • Ethnology
  • Anthropology
  • Museums
  • Museum publications
  • Fires

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