Berthold Laufer: German academic (1874 - 1934) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Berthold Laufer
German academic

Berthold Laufer

Berthold Laufer
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German academic
Was Anthropologist Educator
From Germany United States of America
Field Academia Social science
Gender male
Birth 11 October 1874, Cologne, Cologne Government Region, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Death 13 September 1934, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A. (aged 59 years)
Star sign Libra
The details (from wikipedia)


Berthold Laufer (October 11, 1874 – September 13, 1934) was an anthropologist and historical geographer with an expertise in East Asian languages.


Laufer was born in Cologne in Germany to Max and Eugenie Laufer (née Schlesinger). His paternal grandparents Salomon and Johanna Laufer were adherents of the Jewish faith. Laufer had a brother Heinrich (died 10 July 1935) who worked as a physician in Cairo.

Laufer attended the Friedrich Wilhelms Gymnasium from 1884-1893. He continued his studies in Berlin (1893–1895) and completed his doctorate degree at the University of Leipzig in 1897. The following year he emigrated to the United States where he remained until his death. He carried out ethnographic fieldwork on the Amur River and Sakhalin Island during 1898-1899 as part of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. He worked as assistant in Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History (1904–1906), became a lecturer in Anthropology and East-Asiatic Languages at Columbia University (1905–1907). The rest of his career he spent at the Field Museum in Chicago. He served as the president of the History of Science Society in 1932.

Laufer died on September 13, 1934 after falling from the 8th floor fire escape of the Chicago Beach Hotel in Chicago, where he lived. He had been recovering from the removal of a tumor at the time, but his widow claimed he was in good spirits, and the Coroner's jury returned an undetermined verdict.

From "Lasting Impressions: Chinese Rubbings from the Field Museum" Brochure (The Field Museum of Chicago):

In addition to his studies in Chinese culture as such, Laufer used his knowledge of ancient Chinese writings to shed light on ancient Iran. Very little writings have survived from ancient Iran. Surviving ancient Chinese writings contain valuable information about ancient Iran, which Laufer was the first to study systematically, and which he published as Sino-Iranica: Chinese contributions to the history of civilization in ancient Iran, with special reference to the history of cultivated plants and products (1919).

List of works

Written in English

Written in French

Written in German


  • Kleinere Schriften von Berthold Laufer. Hartmut Walravens, editor, Sinologica Coloniensia; Ostasiatische Beiträge der Universität zu Köln, Bde. 2, 7, 13. Franz Steiner, Wiesbaden, 1976-1992 (3 Volumes). A collection of many of his essays and many relevant documents.
  • Sino-Tibetan Studies. Hartmut Walravens and Lokesh Chandra, eds., 2 Vols., Rakesh Goel, New Delhi, 1987.
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