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Professor Emeritus Gustav Carlson Remembered

Gustav Gunnar Carlson, professor emeritus of sociology and anthropology at the University of Cincinnati, passed away.

Date: 6/22/2006
By: Jessica Donovan
Phone: 556-5087
Gustav G. Carlson a longtime UC professor of anthropology


COLLEGE HILL - Gustav Gunnar Carlson, professor emeritus of sociology and anthropology at the University of Cincinnati, died Sunday at Llanfair Retirement Community with his wife of 72 years, Elizabeth, by his side. He was 96.

Dr. Carlson was head of UC's department of sociology and anthropology from 1961 until the department of anthropology was formed in 1969. He was head of that department until 1977.

Born to immigrants, he spoke Swedish as his first language and he liked to tell how he failed the first grade because he did not speak English.

Dr. Carlson received an A.B. degree in biology with highest honors from Northern Michigan University in 1932. While doing his graduate work at the University of Michigan, he received several awards including the Rockefeller Scholarship. He was one of the first graduate students of Leslie A. White, an anthropologist known for his ideas about cultural evolution.

Dr. Carlson received a master's degree in anthropology in 1934 and a Ph.D. in anthropology and sociology in 1940. His dissertation on the cultural complex of numbers gambling was used by Thomas E. Dewey, a gang-busting prosecutor in New York City, according to Mr. Carlson's daughter, Karen C. Ogden of Winnipeg, Canada.

Dr. Carlson was an instructor at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan before joining the depUC in 1936.

His career was interrupted during World War II when he served as chief of the intelligence section at the Office of War Information in Kunming, China. During that time, he hired as a translator a Vietnamese named Ho Chi Minh, who later became the leader of communist North Vietnam.

UC presented him its Mrs. A.B. Cohen Award for excellence in teaching. He was president of the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and a founding trustee of the Miami Purchase Association.

In addition to his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Karen, survivors include a son, Eric Carlson of New York City; and two grandchildren.

Services have been held.

Memorials: Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 800 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202-2071. E-mail

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