Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons (1874-1941)
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Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons (November 27, 1875 - December 19, 1941) was an American anthropologist, sociologist, folklorist, and feminist who studied Native American tribes-such as the Tewa and Hopi-in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. She helped found The New School. She was associate editor for The Journal of American Folklore (1918-1941), president of the American Folklore Society (1919-1920), president of the American Ethnological Society (1923-1925), and was elected the first female president of the American Anthropological Association (1941) right before her death. She earned her bachelor's degree from Barnard College in 1896. She received her master's degree (1897) and Ph.D. (1899) from Columbia University.
Every other year, the American Ethnological Society awards the Elsie Clews Parsons Prize for the best graduate student essay, in her honor.
Elsie Clews Parsons was the daughter of Henry Clews, a wealthy New York banker, and Lucy Madison Worthington. Her brother, Henry Clews, Jr. was an artist. On September 1, 1900, in Newport, Rhode Island, she married future three-term progressive Republican congressman Herbert Parsons, an associate and political ally of President Teddy Roosevelt. When her husband was a member of Congress, she published two then-controversial books under the pseudonym John Main.
She became interested in anthropology in 1910.
Her work Pueblo Indian Religion is considered a classic; here she gathered all her previous extensive work and that of other authors.