Boas was born in Minden, Westphalia, Germany. As a cultural outsider, he was one of the inventors of modern anthropology, study of outsiders.
"His liberal Jewish parents held a disdain for dogma, religious or otherwise. And as a result Boas was allowed to think for himself and pursue his own interests unhindered," wrote a rather mysterious website called NNDB. "It was Boas who gave modern anthropology its rigorous scientific methodology, patterned after the natural sciences, and it was Boas who originated the notion of 'culture' as learned behaviors. His emphasis on research first, followed by generalizations, stood in marked contrast to the British school of anthropology which emphasized the creation of grand theories (which were only after tested through field work)."