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James Lowell Gibbs, Jr.

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Information about James Lowell Gibbs, Jr.

Profile image of James Lowell Gibbs, Jr.

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Anthropology Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken Curry, Chinese Stir fry, Palm-Oil Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bali, Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Shanghai, China
Favorite Quote:
You Have To Work Twice As Hard To Get Half As Far.

Birthplace

Born:
6/13/1931
Birth Location:
Syracuse, New York

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Anthropology Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken Curry, Chinese Stir fry, Palm-Oil Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bali, Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Shanghai, China
Favorite Quote:
You Have To Work Twice As Hard To Get Half As Far.

Birthplace

Born:
6/13/1931
Birth Location:
Syracuse
See how James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Cultural anthropologist James Lowell Gibbs, Jr., was born on June 13, 1931, in Syracuse, New York to Huldah Hortense Dabney, a school teacher, and James Lowell Gibbs, Sr., executive director of a community center. Gibbs was born prematurely when his mother’s appendix burst during the seventh month of her pregnancy. Gibbs can trace his family ancestry back to 1834 to a paternal great-great grandfather who was born in Florence, South Carolina. Gibbs grew up in Ithaca, New York, where he attended Henry St. John’s School. He skipped the second grade and later attended Boynton Junior High School and Ithaca High School. Gibbs initially wanted to be a commercial artist but changed his mind when he read a book by Paul Robeson’s wife, Eslanda Goode Robeson, called African Journey that showcased Robeson’s field work as a cultural anthropologist in Uganda. Gibbs realized that he wanted to be a social scientist.

Gibbs graduated from Cornell University in 1952 and served as senior class president. Gibbs went on to graduate school at Harvard University and earned his M.A. degree and Ph.D. degree in cultural anthropology. While pursuing his degree at Harvard, Gibbs served as a teaching fellow and resident tutor, the first African American resident tutor in the history of Harvard University. In 1959, Gibbs went on to teach at the University of Minnesota. He remained at the University of Minnesota until 1966. In 1965, Gibbs edited and contributed to the book, Peoples of Africa. In 1966, Gibbs joined the staff at Stanford University as associate professor of anthropology. For three different periods, Gibbs went to Africa and conducted field research on the Kpelle of Liberia. In 1970, Gibbs co-directed and co-produced the documentary film, The Cows of Dolo Ken Paye, which displays the Kpelle people’s methods of conflict resolution. That same year, Gibbs became Stanford University’s first dean of undergraduate studies. He remained in this position until 1976 but continued to serve as a professor of anthropology. In 1983, Gibbs co-authored Law in Radically Different Cultures, a study of law in Botswana, Egypt, the Peoples Republic of China, and the United States. In 1984, he became a senior fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University. Gibbs returned to Stanford and served as the codirector of the Stanford/Berkeley Joint Center for African Studies between 1985 and 1987. Between 1987 and 1990, Gibbs served as Stanford University’s chairman of the Department of Anthropology.

Gibbs was the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus at Stanford University. He is married to Jewelle Taylor Gibbs.

See how James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Lowell Gibbs, Jr.'s interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls activities with his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his parents' move to Syracuse, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his father's work at Southside Community Center in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his father's connection to Ruth Carol Taylor
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his father's education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his parents' community involvement in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his ancestry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his early family life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. talks about his sister, Huldah Gibbs Jones
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes Ithaca, New York in the 1930s and 1940s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his community in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls how World War II impacted his family and community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his religious upbringing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls attending Ithaca's Henry St. John School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes Boynton Junior High School and Ithaca High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his high school demeanor
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his high school social life in Ithaca
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his early interest in anthropology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. remembers receiving 'African Journey' as a gift from his employers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls attending Cornell University with a high school classmate
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his first research opportunity at Cornell University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes the findings of Cornell University's Hometown Project
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his mentor, Dr. Robert Johnson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his mentors at Cornell University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls the founding of Watermargin at Cornell University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes the educational component of Watermargin
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. remembers meeting Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls applying to graduate programs at Harvard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his graduate studies in anthropology at Harvard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his fellowship at the University of Cambridge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes residential education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his Rotary Foundation Fellowship experience
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes how he met his wife, Jewelle Taylor Gibbs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his mentors at Harvard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. talks about St. Clair Drake
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. explains how his interest in Liberian tribal law developed
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. remembers his travels to Liberia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his research on Kpelle tribal law in Liberia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his analysis of the Kpelle moot
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his work in ethnographic film with Marvin Silverman
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes 'The Cows of Dolo Ken Paye' and 'Dolo Ken Paye's People Go to the Movies'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. recalls his return to Ithaca in the summer of 1962
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his move to San Francisco, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his career at Stanford University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. explains how he balances academia and social activism
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his volunteerism in East Palo Alto, California
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes student-initiated programs at Stanford University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes the importance of community building
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes his future plans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. reflects upon changing university demographics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes values he considers to be important
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered by his colleagues
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered by his future grandchildren
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Lowell Gibbs, Jr. narrates his photographs