G. Gordon Brown

Name G. Gordon Brown
Born March 13 1896
Died December 18 1955
Birth Location Cambellton, New Brunswick, Canada

Canadian psychologist and anthropologist, community analyst at Gila River .

George Gordon Brown (1896–1955) was born in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada, on March 13, 1896. He first enrolled at the University of Toronto in 1914, but enlisted in 1915 and served in France during World War I, eventually sustaining serious injury. Returning to Canada, he completed his B.A. in political science in 1922, going on to M.A. (1926) and Ph.D. (1927) degrees in psychology, all at the University of Toronto. After further study in London as a Rockefeller Foundation fellow, Brown took a post as superintendent of education in Tanganyika Territory, a British controlled bastion in what is now Tanzania. Spending six years there, he also did anthropological work on the Hehe people. In 1934, he took a position as headmaster of the Feleti School in American Samoa, while also doing fieldwork there. In 1935 he also co-authored Anthropology in Action with Tanganyika based colonial administrator Bruce Hutt, an influential volume in applied anthropology. He was accompanied in his travels by his anthropologist wife Elizabeth M. Brown and their two sons, the younger one born in Samoa. He was able to return to North American taking an academic position at the University of Connecticut in 1938, moving to Temple University in Philadelphia a year later. [1]

In 1943, Brown and his family moved west where he became the community analyst at the Gila River camp in Arizona. He arrived on June 30, 1943, replacing sociologist James H. Barnett , a former colleague and collaborator at the University of Connecticut, who had left the position after just 36 days. Brown would remain at Gila for just under two years. Cited by Community Analysis Section head Edward Spicer as one of only two community analysts who had previously worked "in applied situations" (the other being Morris Opler ), Spicer set up his office in Block 51 of Butte Camp, one of the two sub-camps that comprised Gila. During his first year at Gila, he was assigned to a series of other administrative tasks, including doing interviews and serving on a committee that determined who would be sent to Tule Lake , that limited his time doing community analysis work to about 50%. He later characterized this decision as a mistake, since this work put him "in the position making decisions which may be considered oppressive; this will alter the nature of his relationships to the evacuee." In his second year, he was able to devote all of his time to community analysis. He produced 38 reports—just ten in the first year—with the assistance of four inmate research assistants. He and his family left Gila at the end of May 1945. A few months later, his Final Report, which included both an explanation of the work of the Community Analysis Section and a description of the inmate community, was published in the journal Applied Anthropology , the only such report to be published. [2]

After leaving Gila, the family moved back to Philadelphia where Brown took a position with the Bureau of Municipal Research in Philadelphia studying black/white relations. He moved to the University of Toronto in 1946 where he spent the rest of his academic career. In addition to his teaching, he did further fieldwork studying the Cree and other First Nations peoples in Canada. Weakened by a succession of strokes, he passed away on December 18, 1955 at age 59. [3]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Brown, G. Gordon. "Final Report: War Relocation Authority, Gila River Project, Rivers, Arizona, Community Analysis Section." Applied Anthropology 4.4 (1945): 1–49.

Brown, George F. "Return to Gila River." In Last Witnesses: Reflections on the Wartime Internment of Japanese Americans . Edited by Erica Harth. New York: Palgrave, 2001. 115–25.

McIlwraith, T. F. "G. Gordon Brown, 1896–1955." American Anthropologist 60 (1958): 571–73.


  1. T. F. McIlwraith, "G. Gordon Brown, 1896–1955," American Anthropologist 60 (1958), 571–72; National Research Council, International Directory of Anthropologists, Section I: Western Hemisphere (Washington, DC, March 1940), 21; Melville J. Herskovits, editor, International Directory of Anthropologists, Third Edition (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, 1950), 23.
  2. G. Gordon Brown, "Final Report: War Relocation Authority, Gila River Project, Rivers, Arizona, Community Analysis Section," Applied Anthropology 4.4 (1945), 1–49, quote from page 6; George F. Brown, "Return to Gila River," in Last Witnesses: Reflections on the Wartime Internment of Japanese Americans , ed. Erica Harth (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 115–25; Edward H. Spicer, "Anthropologists and the War Relocation Authority," in The Uses of Anthropology , edited by Walter Goldschmidt (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, 1979), 224; Peter T. Suzuki, "Anthropologists in the Wartime Camps for Japanese Americans: A Documentary Study," Dialectical Anthropology 6.1 (Aug. 1981), 30.
  3. McIlwraith, "G. Gordon Brown"; Herskovits, International Directory .

Last updated Dec. 12, 2023, 7:49 p.m..