Short Portrait: Anneliese Eilers

Anneliese Eilers
Anneliese Eilers

* 1900 + 1953



Anneliese Eilers was born in Hamburg in 1900. Her father was a high ranked clerk at the local German Post Office. Eilers spent her childhood and youth in her home town and finished secondary school in 1922.

The same year Eilers took up her studies of Anthropology, Phonetics and African Languages at the newly founded Hamburg University. Carl Meinhof, Georg Thilenius, Paul Hambruch and Maria von Tiling were among her teachers. In 1925 Eilers pursued her studies at the Eberhard-Karls-University in Tübingen, where Adolf Basler was among her teachers.

After her return to Hamburg Eilers graduated with a Ph D thesis on social relations between Bantu children in 1927. She was among the first women who received an academic degree in Anthropology in Germany.

In the following years Eilers published three volumes on the remote Southwest Islands, which are culturally closer to Yap, but politically part of the Republic of Palau during the South-Pacific-Expeditions of the Hamburg Ethnological Museum. She furthermore edited, systematized and published Paul Hambruchs ethnographic work about Ponape Island (now: Pohnpei Island) while adding her comparative results concerning neighboring regions in Micronesia. Her work was financed by the forerunner of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).

Anneliese Eilers died in an accident in 1953.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in July 2012, based on: Beer, Bettina, 2007, “Frauen in der deutschsprachigen Ethnologie”, pp. 84 - 88; photo source:

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