Robert A. Manner's was an influential anthropologist. He was born in Manhattan and graduated from Columbia College in 1935. While a graduate student at Columbia, he participated in a program in Puerto Rico under the supervision of Julian Steward. He spent a vast majority of his professional life on the faculty at Brandeis University. He founded the Anthropology Department at Brandeis in the 1950s. By the time he retired in 1979, the department came into national prominence. He continued to do field work in Puerto Rico and in western Kenya that resulted in numerous publications. Manners was involved in editing several publications.