Victor Barnouw was born in The Hague, Netherlands in 1915. He came to the United States in 1919 and became a naturalized citizen in 1924. He attended Princeton University from 1933 to 1935. He received his A.B. from Columbia University in 1940and his PhD from Columbia in 1948. He spent most of his career teaching anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee until he retired in 1979. He wrote numerous anthropological books and one children's book, Dream of the Blue Heron, published in 1966.