C. Loring Brace, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Biological Anthropology, died on September 7, 2019. Brace came to the University of Michigan in 1967 for an appointment shared between the Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Anthropology after taking his Ph.D. with William Howells at Harvard in 1962 and teaching stints at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of California, Santa Barbara.
Brace was a pivotal figure in the history of ideas in biological anthropology, representing the break with the early 20th century’s categorical approach to human variation. With his Michigan colleague Frank Livingstone, Brace pushed for a view of continuity and variation across living human populations and in connections between living populations and earlier hominins, especially Neanderthals.
Brace authored over 250 scholarly papers and several books, including a textbook, “Stages of Human Evolution,” that went through five editions. His last book, “’Race’ is a Four-Letter Word,” is a deeply scholarly treatment of the roots of racism in Western culture, politics, and science. A major part of Brace’s legacy, however, rests in the students he trained. Students were welcome in his office and lab, where he listened and advised at length. He had a ready wit that enabled him to write a razor-sharp book review in prose or limerick, but he never turned that edge towards his students. His kindness with students, along with wide-ranging interests and depth of scholarship, resulted in Brace serving on at least 38 doctoral committees, 20 as chair, on subjects ranging from stable isotopes, to primate troop movements, chimpanzee locomotion, and neuroanatomy in addition to subjects closer to his base in paleoanthropology and bioarchaeology.
His books are widely available, although on websites they are mixed in with items like “The Dangerous Classes of New York and 20 Years Work Among Them,” by Charles Loring Brace (1872), written by his great-grandfather, humanitarian founder of the Children’s Aid Society and the “Orphan Train” resettlement movement.
Loring Brace was predeceased by his wife Mimi, Mary Louise (Crozier) Brace, and his son Hudson Hoagland Brace. He is survived by his sons Roger Crozier Brace and Charles Loring Brace V and their children. At Brace’s request, no ceremonies were held.