Ellis, George Washington

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Ellis, George Washington

George Washington Ellis was born May 4, 1875, in Weston, Missouri. He earned a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Kansas in 1893, attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., for two years where he studied psychology and philosophy, and graduated from Gunton's Institute of Economics and Sociology in New York in 1900.

After practicing law for several years, Ellis worked in the Census Department in Washington in 1900. He served as secretary of the American legation to the Republic of Liberia for eight years beginning in 1902.

In 1910, Ellis returned from Liberia and established a legal practice in Chicago, earning a reputation as a prestigious counselor. From 1917 to 1919, he served as assistant corporation counsel for Chicago.

Ellis's interest in Africa continued throughout his life, and his experiences in Liberia influenced his career as a writer and lecturer. He investigated the social structure and folklore history of that nation and presented speeches concerning Africa and the question of race. He was an editor of the Journal of Race Development, and authored several publications, including Negro Culture in West Africa (1914); Negro Achievements in Social Progress (1915); and The Leopard's Claw (1917).

Ellis died November 26, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois.

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The opening chapter unearths the subaltern traditions of black Westerner ethnologies and ethnographies, followed by thematically related discussions of the place of race and racism in the cultural theory of anthropologist Franz Boas and the work of George Washington Ellis as an example of the subaltern tradition of African American anthropology.
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