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March 13, 1937

WHAT IS AN AMERICAN?

JAMA. 1937;108(11):886-887. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780110034011
Abstract

The answer to the question propounded in the title is likely to reflect the narcissism or self idealization of the one who attempts to answer it. The physical anthropologist alone, however, according to a discussion by Hooton,1 is qualified to view this question objectively and impartially. The anthropologist's data are derived from caliper measurements, indexes, morphologic observations and statistical analysis pertaining to masses of the population. His view, therefore, cannot be so easily affected by human frailty. When applied to civilized nations, in fact, anthropology has a distressing tendency to shatter cherished delusions.

Americans, for the purposes of Hooton's study, were divided into four classes: (1) old Americans, (2) new Americans, both of whom have been born to Americanism, (3) immigrant Americans—those who have achieved Americanism—and (4) Afro-Americans, or those who have had Americanism thrust upon them. The largest group of individuals used for the racial sorting of the

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