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Morgan, Lewis Henry (1818–1881)

Lewis Henry Morgan, a Rochester, New York, lawyer, helped lay the foundations for the study of law and society. His contributions were prodigious. In 1851, he wrote the first ethnography,League of the Iroquois, exemplifying methods and standards that would later become essential in cultural anthropology. With Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family(1870), Morgan effectively founded the scientific study of kinship, demonstrating its necessity for understanding social relations in most non-Western societies.

The scientific study of kinship became part of the basis of twentieth-century British social anthropology, with its intensive studies of non-Western systems of law and society. Ancient Society(1877) exhaustively explored social evolutionary “stages of progress,” influencing Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) and guaranteeing controversy for decades to come. Morgan ...

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