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Solon T. Kimball

Educator, anthropologist. Born: August 12, 1909, Manhattan, Kansas. Died: October 12, 1982,  Gainesville, Alachua, Florida

Solon Toothaker Kimball was born August 12, 1909, in Manhattan, Kansas, to Charles Augustus and Matie (Toothaker) Kimball. Kimball attended Kansas State University from 1926 to 1930, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in geology, which led to his interest in anthropology. In 1931 and 1932 he was involved in archeology and social anthropology fieldwork in Colorado.

Kimball attended Harvard University from 1933 to 1936 and earned master’s and doctorate degrees in social anthropology. In his second year he became a field assistant for W. Lloyd Warner, involved in a study in Newburyport. Kimball applied a sociolinguistic perspective in this research.

Kimball received the Sheldon Traveling Fellowship from Harvard in 1933, with the opportunity to conduct social anthropological research in Ireland. He served as assistant soil conservator in the Southwest, spending much of his time on the Navajo reservation. He became a visiting professor of anthropology and sociology at Oklahoma University. During World War II he was involved with the War Relocation Authority. In 1949 Kimball conducted a study for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the economic environment of the Navajo people. His findings led to improved relationships between the Navajo and the U.S. government. From 1953 to 1966 Kimball served as professor of anthropology and education at Columbia University. He also served as a visiting professor at the University of Puerto Rico and the University of California.

The study methods that Kimball utilized became standard analytical tools in understanding American social classes, the role of social clubs in community life, and the study of naturally occurring events in understanding social structure. Kimball advanced the study of associations and wrote much about cliques and clubs

He received numerous awards and recognitions for his work. The Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology has been presented every other year since 1984 at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting.

Kimball died October 12, 1982, in Gainesville, Alachua, Florida.

Entry: Kimball, Solon T.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: August 2013

Date Modified: August 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.