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Oscar Lewis


Oscar Lewis attended CCNY and received his Bachelor's Degree in history. He enrolled for graduate training at Columbia University and was later awarded a Ph.D. for anthropology in 1940. He served on the faculty of Brooklyn College and Washington University. He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a social scientist and was key in starting the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. In 1942, Lewis worked with the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and briefly for the U.S. Department of Justice as a propaganda analyst.

In 1943 Lewis served as U.S. Representative of the Inter-American Indian Institute in Mexico to work on rural development. He was greatly concerned about the peasant communities and studied at length the village of Tepoztlan and Northern India. The last twenty years of his life were mainly focused on urban studies.

Oscar Lewis published many successful books, a few of which drew serious public attention. The Children of Sanchez, written in the early 1960's, was declared to be slanderous and obscene by the Mexican government. After an investigation by the Attorney General of Mexico, the charges were proven incorrect.


This picture reprinted by permission of the American Anthropologist Association from American Anthropologist 74:3 1972


American Anthropologist Vol 74 [3,1972] page 747 written by Douglas Butterworth; University of Illinois

Written by Students in an Introduction to Anthropology Class, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota 2003

Edited by: David Gardner, 2007.