Anna Thomas on Carobeth Laird

“She was doggedly pursuing, all the time, what was important to her.”

Carobeth Laird was an uneducated teenager with no hopes of attending college when, in 1915, she took a summer course with celebrated anthropologist John Peabody Harrington. Starved for knowledge, the girl fell head over heels in love with linguistics and cultural anthropology. The great man recognized her talent and almost immediately began both teaching and exploiting her. Listen to the story of their strange, profound relationship, and how Laird’s brilliance and powerful sense of self won out in the end.


Anna Thomas

Anna Thomas is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, as well as a producer, director and author. Her principal credits include the film EL NORTE (writer and producer), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was elected to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress; MY FAMILY, MI FAMILIA; FRIDA; and A TIME OF DESTINY. She has also written episodes for the Emmy-nominated PBS one-hour drama series AMERICAN FAMILY. Thomas made her first feature in 1977 when she wrote, produced and directed THE HAUNTING OF M as her Master’s thesis film at UCLA. She recently ventured into documentary film as a producer of INFINITE SPACE: THE ARCHITECTURE OF JOHN LAUTNER. Thomas is a founder of the IFP West, now FilmIndependent, and heads the Screenwriting Discipline at the American Film Institute.

Featured Woman

Carobeth Laird

Carobeth Laird was an anthropologist and a writer who didn’t publish her first book until she was “discovered” by student researchers when she was 80 years old. Her best-selling book, “Encounter With an Angry God: Recollections of My Life With John Peabody Harrington,” detailed Laird’s life among the American Indians, where she apprenticed with Peabody, who was her mentor in her cultural studies.

Portraits of Carobeth Laird from a 1975 Parade Magazine profile

NY Times Obituary