W.W. Howells Book Award

Nominate a book

The BAS strongly encourages nominations of books for the W.W. Howells Book Award in Biological Anthropology. The Howells Award was inaugurated in 1993 in honor of professor emeritus William White Howells of the Peabody Museum (Harvard). Howells is a past president of the American Anthropological Association and a distinguished scholar who has published several landmark books in physical anthropology.

The award is given by the Biological Anthropology Section of the AAA to honor a book in the area of biological anthropology. Books may be single or multiply-authored, but not edited. They should have been published within the last 3-4 years, and once nominated will remain on the list for 3-5 years depending on their date of publication. Nominated works should represent the highest standard of scholarship and readability. They should inform a wider audience of the significance of physical or biological anthropology in the social and biological sciences, and demonstrate a biocultural perspective.

Please send your nominating letters and either copies of or references to published reviews to Sara Stinson, Chair of the W.W. Howells Book Award Committee, by e-mail or post (Dept. of Anthropology, Queens College, 6530 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, NY 11367). Nominations must be received by February 1 to be considered in that year.

History & How to Donate to the Howells Fund

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to you about a fundraising campaign for the W. W. Howells Prize. As we hope you are aware, the Howells Prize is awarded by the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association to recognize outstanding books in biological anthropology.

The W.W. Howells Prize was established in 1993 to honor William White Howells, then emeritus professor of anthropology at Harvard University. The prize is in recognition of the important contributions Professor Howells made to biological anthropology and anthropology in general. He served as President of the American Anthropological Association (1951) and as Editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1949-1954) and received the American Anthropological Association Distinguished Service Award (1978) and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Darwin Award (1992). Professor Howells was an outstanding mentor to graduate and undergraduate students and a dedicated scholar who excelled at introducing the public to biological anthropology. One of the intents of the Howells Prize is to encourage a high standard of writing and scholarship as exemplified by Professsor Howells’ work; thus the award is presented to books that represent the highest standard of scholarship and readability and that inform a wider audience of the significance of biological anthropology.

You can make a donation by following this link.

To date the W. W. Howells Prize has been awarded to eighteen books. To our knowledge the Howells Prize is the only award that specifically honors books in biological anthropology. As such it is a unique opportunity to recognize the exceptional work of our colleagues.

The W.W. Howells Award is supported by income from an endowment to the American Anthropological Association for the purpose of this award. However, this income has been reduced by recent low interest rates which threaten the long-term viability of the award. The Biological Anthropology Section of the AAA is undertaking this fundraising drive to increase the Howells Endowment Fund so that we can better honor both the memory of an eminent biological anthropologist and the outstanding work that biological anthropologists are doing today. Our goal in this drive is to raise $10,000, all of which will be added to the fund, to increase the income it generates. Your generous donation will help us reach this goal. Checks for contributions should be made out to the American Anthropological Association with the notation Howells Fund in the memo line. Contributions should be sent to the Howells Award, American Anthropological Association, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201.

Thank you for your help.

Best regards,

Sara Stinson,

Chair of the W.W. Howells Fund, on behalf of The Executive Committee of the Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association


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Thank you for your contribution to the W.W. Howells Award
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Previous Winners

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding.
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.


Wenda Trevathan
Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women’s Health.
Oxford University Press.
The book was recognized as an insightful and compelling consideration of the importance of evolution to women’s biology and health.

Bernard Chapais
Primeval Kinship: How Pair-Bonding Gave Birth to Human Society.
Harvard University Press.
“Primeval Kinship is a treasure chest of comparative research on human and primate social structure, organization, and behavior. This book will reignite and reinvigorate discussions of the evolution of primate and human society. It will be a model from which future social and physical anthropologists, primatologists, and social scientists can build.” –Robert Wald Sussman, Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

Alan Walker and Pat Shipman
The Ape in the Tree: An Intellectual and Natural History of Proconsul.
Harvard University Press.
From Robert Proctor’s Science book review: “The Ape in the Tree is a fine account of new ways to puzzle out the behaviors of fossilized animals from odd scraps of bones.” –Carel van Schaik and Perry van Duijnhoven

Carel van Schaik
Among Orangutans: Red Apes and the Rise of Human Culture.
Belknap Press.
From Scientific American review: In this book, Carel van Schaik, a highly regarded Dutch primatologist now at Duke University, concludes that “intelligence is … socially constructed during development.” This won’t surprise you–until you realize that he is referring not to humans but to orangutans, the large red apes of south Asia.

Nina Jablonski
Skin: A Natural History.
University of California Press.
This book takes a new look at the evolution of skin focusing on human sweatiness, its range of coloration, and cultural decorations of the skin.

Donna L. Hart and Robert W. Sussman
Man the Hunted: Primates, Predators and Human Evolution.
Westview Press (Perseus Book Group).
This book dispels the myth of “man the hunter” and replaces it with the theory and supporting evidence that early hominini were very vulnerable to predation.

Christopher Beard
The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey: Unearthing the Origins of Monkeys, Apes and Humans.
University of California Press.
Beard’s discovery in China of the earliest known primates is reshaping critical debates about the geographic origins of anthropoids and humans. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Beard was a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” award in 2000.

John Relethford
Reflections of Our Past : How Human History is Revealed in Our Genes.
Westview Press.


Jonathan Marks
What It Means to be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and Their Genes.
University of California.


Kenneth A. R. Kennedy
God-Apes and Fossil Men Paleoanthropology of South Asia.
University of Michigan Press.


Sarah Hrdy
Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species.


Ian Tattersall
Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness.
Harcourt Brace.


Matt Cartmill
A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature through History.
Harvard University Press.


Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari
Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction.
Simon & Schuster.


James W. Wood
Dynamics of Human Reproduction: Biology, Biometry, and Demography.
Aldine de Gruyter.


Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth
How Monkeys See the World: Inside the Mind of Another Species.
University of Chicago Press.


William McGrew
Chimpanzee Material Culture: Implications for Human Evolution.
Cambridge University Press.