Anderson, James E.

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Anderson, James E.

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  • Anderson, James Edward

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Dates of existence

1926-1995

History

James Edward (Jim) Anderson was born in Perth, Ontario on 23 February 1926. Following service in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II, he entered medicine at the University of Toronto, graduating with an MD in 1953. Through his training in anatomy he came to know J. C. B. Grant who was a physical anthropologist in all but name, and who passed on to Anderson his fascination with morphological variation, growth and development of the human body, along with a love of teaching.

Following his internship, Anderson was appointed a lecturer in the Department of Anatomy in 1956, but also taught a course in human osteology for pre-med students and became involved in archaeological digs in Ontario. This led to his appointment in 1958 as an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, where he taught a variety of graduate half courses while maintaining his full teaching duties in Anatomy. He established an osteology lab, where both old and recent skeletal collections were gathered for study. These included items from the Montgomery and Boyle Osteology Collection from the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Fairty, Serpent Mounds, and Bennett sites in Ontario. He was promoted to full professor in 1961.

Through these collections, Professor Anderson “began to build the framework of osteological analysis for which he is best known – the use of discrete traits along with metric data to characterize and compare skeletal populations.” His emphasis of discrete traits was detailed in a number of early papers, including “The development of the tympanic plate” (1962), “Osteology of the Donaldson site” (1963), and “The people of Fairty: an osteological analysis of an Iroquois ossuary” (1964). He also sought, during the 1960s, to rectify a lack of published data on Iroquois morphology and pathology, by investigating and writing about skeletal material in the Bennett site, the Dawson site, and the Serpent Mounds burials. Anderson also ranged outside of Ontario in his research, to the Tehuacan valley in Mexico, Nubia, and Newfoundland.

At the same time Professor Anderson began training human osteologists and physical anthropologists at the University of Toronto and, from 1963 to 1966, at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, where he assembled a large number of his graduate students. In 1966 he returned to the University of Toronto to organize and direct its PhD program in physical anthropology, bringing many of his students with him. In 1967 he took on the additional responsibility of organizing and directing the Department of Anatomy in the new Faculty of Medicine at McMaster University. In 1969 he moved to Hamilton to devote all his time to the new department and its students.

Professor Anderson was also interested in other fields of research, including the non-medical use of drugs and alternative secondary school education. In 1971, he founded in Hamilton the Cool School for students who had been involved with drugs and could not cope in the conventional school system. He wrote about his work in "Cool School: an alternative secondary school experience" (1977) and in “Life history grid for adolescents” (1980). For many years he was involved with Boy Scouts of Canada.

Professor Anderson took early retirement in 1985 because of ill health and died on 4 February 1995 in Hamilton, Ontario.

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