This is a transcription of the paper catalogue prepared by Michael Thompson in 1976 of the papers relating to Pitt-Rivers held by Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum [S&SWM]. This contains information useful for researchers. Please note that if you wish to consult the papers in this collection you will need to contact S&SWM direct.


Catalogue of the correspondence and papers of AUGUSTUS HENRY ALEN FOX PITT-RIVERS (1827-1900) Lieutenant-General, anthropologist and archaeologist 1855-1899 in the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Wiltshire ... Listed by Dr. M.W. Thompson 1976

Preface [p. i-iv]

The papers that are catalogued ... form part of an accession to the S&SWM from the contents of the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Farnham, Dorset, accepted by H.M. Treasury in lieu of death duties on the estate of the late Captain George Pitt-Rivers. The British and Agricultural Collections were transferred to Salisbury under the same arrangement in 1974 when it was decided to disperse finally the collections at Farnham. A committee under the chairmanship of Mr C.E. Blunt was set up under the aegis of the Salisbury Museum to catalogue the papers, from which the present work stems.

The catalogue covers material at Salisbury from three different sources: the main collection of papers, which it will be suggested came originally from Rushmore Lodge, twenty-six rolls of plans and sections retrieved by the Curator of the Salisbury Museum from the Farnham Museum where they had possibly been since the previous century, and three albums of prints and other photographs of the late H. St George Gray acquired by the National Trust with his house at Martock, and transferred to Salisbury. Appendix I deals with the General's records that form a small part of a large loan deposit at the Dorset County Record Office made by two of his great grand-sons. Appendix II deals with letters still in the possession of the family ... which are available in photocopy in box 11.

The main collection of papers, which arrived in Salisbury in five cardboard cartons from a London solicitor's office, had been only recently stored at the Farnham Museum which is not their place of origin. At the time of a visit to the house of Captain George Pitt-Rivers in 1959 they were kept there ... The collection contains around 4,000 letters dated between 1881-99, addressed to Pitt-Rivers, and there can be no reasonable doubt but that it represents the contents of the private study or office (referred to in L1, 470) at Rushmore Lodge, the mansion where Pitt-Rivers lived from 1880 until his death in 1900. The house was subsequently given up by the family and is now used as a school.

It is important to establish the place of origin of these papers in order to understand their composition. The most surprising feature about them is the virtual absence of field records of the Cranborne Chase excavations. These were no doubt kept in a different place, presumably the museum. They must have been of considerable bulk, and, as no trace can now be found of them, they appear to have been destroyed, possibly at the time the sixteen Inspector's field notebooks were presented to the Office of Works in the 1920s. The present writer knows from discussion with the late H. St George Gray that the excavations records were maintained in the same type of notebook with metal clasps as those used in the Inspector's travels.

When the papers had been laid out and a small quantity of post-1900 items removed it was abundantly clear that the boxes contained the literary remains not of one but of two people. [the other, not included in this transcription of the preface, is Thomas Wake Smart] ...

The material has been classified under six broad headings, three of these being further subdivided. Each part has a short introduction except the Miscellaneous section ... The arrangement of the first three sections is chronological: the first Army paper is 1855, the first professional paper 1864, the first Ancient Monuments paper 1879. The sub-division of the Professional Papers, a-h, is also roughly chronological.

The small Army section and the Professional papers differ from the others in that they are largely pre-Rushmore, that is pre-1880, in date and also largely written by Pitt-Rivers himself. The last four sections are almost exclusively from the Rushmore period, 1880-1900, ... and the last three sections, being letters received without copies of replies are almost exclusively non-autographic material. The first three sections are mostly foolscap ... while the last two sections are lettrs on the smaller letter paper of the period ...

The Professional Papers probably constitute the most rewarding but also the most exacting section from the cataloguer's point of view. Subjects can go through the following sequences: rough (sometimes illegible) notes on preliminary reading, very rough draft, less rough draft (with references), first fair copy, second fair copy (for lecture), another fair copy (for publication). Normally only fragments of one or two stages will survive (there are some complete articles), so that the problem merely of identification has been considerable. ...

The other sections call for little comment. Ireland is the main interest of the Army section, particularly the Fenian papers. The Ancient Monument section consists largely of official papers or copies of official papers and gives an extraordinarily complete picture of the activities of Pitt-Rivers as Inspector, otherwise little known. Likewise there is much material about aspects of Pitt-Rivers that are unfamiliar win the Miscellaneous section and the two Appendices. ...

[Thompson ends this preface with a 'Brief Table of Events in Life of Pitt-Rivers' which has not been transcribed as it has been superceded by the calendar given by choosing 'Pitt-Rivers Life' in the right hand menu of this website.]

Transcribed by AP for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project July 2011

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