Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
Wulsin, Frederick R., 1891-1961
Frederick R. Wulsin (1891-1961) was a noted anthropologist and a popular professor at Tufts University.
Wulsin was born on July 8, 1891 in Cincinnati, Ohio. After completing high school in Ohio, Wulsin enrolled at Harvard University, receiving his B.A. in 1913. At his parents' urging, Wulsin returned to Harvard in 1915, and earned a Masters of Civil Engineering. After his graduation, however, Wulsin realized that although he was a trained engineer, he had no desire to work in the engineering field. Instead, he wanted to travel and work as an explorer.
To pursue his desires, Wulsin traveled to Paris as an employee for a machine tool exporter, and worked there until the beginning of World War I. During the war, he remained in Paris, serving as a lieutenant in the Intelligence Sector of the 42nd Division. After the war, Wulsin participated in several sociological expeditions, traveling to Inner Mongolia, China, and Tibet. After his return, Wulsin traveled by Model T and camel caravan through much of Persia and Africa. Having finally found his calling, Wulsin returned to Harvard and received his Ph. D. in anthropology in 1929.
For the next few years, Wulsin worked around Boston, tutoring at Harvard and acting as a teaching assistant at Boston University. He also worked for the Peabody Museum, before going to Washington, D.C., to help with the war effort. In Washington, Wulsin stumbled upon a career in teaching almost by accident. Wulsin was working under the Secretary of War to solve problems maintaining troops under extreme conditions, and met Tufts president Leonard Carmichael, who was also working in Washington. Carmichael offered Wulsin a job, and in 1945 Wulsin came to Tufts as a lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology. In 1947, Wulsin was promoted to professor, and was fast becoming one of the most popular professors on campus. Oftentimes during the spring, Wulsin taught classes outside lying on his stomach with his head in one hand. After he stopped teaching introductory anthropology in order to teach some upper level courses, enrollment in the introductory sessions dropped considerably.
Wulsin continued at Tufts until 1957, when he retired to work on a book about his experiences and theories. Wulsin, a member of various scholarly organizations including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Explorers Club, and the Cosmos Club, died after a long illness on February 26, 1961, in Tucson, Arizona.
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