William Z. Ripley

American academic (1867–1941)

William Zebina Ripley (October 13, 1867 – August 16, 1941) was an American economist, lecturer at Columbia University, professor of economics at MIT, professor of political economy at Harvard University, and racial anthropologist. Ripley was famous for his criticisms of American railroad economics and American business practices in the 1920s and 1930s, and later for his tripartite racial theory of Europe. His work of racial anthropology was later taken up by racial physical anthropologists, eugenicists, white supremacists, Nordicists, and racists in general, and it was considered a valid academic work at the time, although today it is considered to be a prime example of scientific racism and pseudoscience.


  • In sharp contrast, the racial scientists, who will be discussed later, recorded the change of affairs with a note of indignant relief: "In our school days most of us were brought up to regard Asia as the mother of European people. We were told that an ideal race of men swarmed forth from the Himalayan highlands disseminating culture right and left as they spread through the barbarous West." As far as Ripley was concerned, such philological ideas represented the dark age of Indo-European studies: "In the days when . . . there was no science of physical anthropology [and] prehistoric archaeology was not yet . . . a new science of philology dazzled the intelligent world . . . and its words were law. Since 1860 these early inductions have completely broken down in the light of modern research" (Ripley 1899, 453).
    • quoted in Bryant, E. F. (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : the Indo-Aryan migration debate. Oxford University Press. ch 1
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