By Lewis Henry Morgan
Modern anthropology would be radically different without this book. Published in 1871, this first major study of kinship, inventive and wide-ranging, created a new field of inquiry in anthropology. Drawing partly upon his own fieldwork among American Indians, anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan examined the kinship systems of over one hundred cultures, probing for similarities and differences in their organization. In his attempt to discover particular types of marriage and descent systems across the globe, Morgan demonstrated the centrality of kinship relations in many cultures. Kinship, it was revealed, was an important key for understanding cultures and could be studied through systematic, scientific means.