Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1901 in Eatonville, Fla. She left home at the age of 17, finished high school in Baltimore, and went on to study at Howard University, Barnard College, and Columbia University before becoming one of the most prolific writers in the Harlem Renaissance. Her works included novels, essays, plays, and studies in folklore and anthropology. Her most productive years were the 1930s and early 1940s. It was during those years that she wrote her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road, worked with the Federal Writers Project in Florida, received a Guggenheim fellowship, and wrote four novels. She is most remembered for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. She died penniless and in obscurity in 1960 and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1973, her grave was rediscovered and marked and her novels and autobiography have since been reprinted.
Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957) was born in Mexico City and was an author, painter ,caricaturist and professor of art history at the National School of Anthropology in Mexico City..
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983. He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university. He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.
Franz Boas, a German-born American anthropologist, became the most influential anthropologist of his time. He left Germany because of its antiliberal and anti-Semitic climate. As a Columbia University professor for 37 years (1899-1936), he created both the field of anthropology and the modern concept of culture. Boas played a key role in organizing the American Anthropological Association (AAA) as an umbrella organization for the emerging field. At both Columbia and the AAA, Boas encouraged the "four field" concept of anthropology; he personally contributed to physical anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, as well as cultural anthropology. His work in these fields was pioneering. Both directly and through the influence of such students as Ruth Benedict, Melville J. Herskovits, Alfred L. Kroeber, and Margaret Mead, he set the agenda for all subsequent American cultural anthropology. In His lifetime Boas had many leadership roles including: Assistant curator at the American Museum of Natural History; editor of The Journal of American Folklore; president of the New York Academy of Sciences, and founder of the International Journal of American Linguistics. Boas is the author of hundreds of scientific monographs and articles. He died in 1942.