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See here for Part I, Tylor's biography etc.

Megan Price worked on the Relational Museum project for six months between April and October 2003. During this time she mostly researched Tylor and his collection including contacting many of the Tylor (indirect) descendants. Unfortunately Megan did not leave a full narrative account of the man and his collection when she left the project. This narrative account therefore includes all of Megan’s research, and some research by Alison Petch. Almost everyone who worked on the ESRC-funded ‘Relational Museum’ project did some research on Tylor’s collections and this page is hopefully a summary of all of their contributions (marked as appropriate with the source). Note that where it says ‘pers. comm.’ for Megan Price this refers to information taken from her notes. Most of the information obtained from newspapers etc of Tylor’s day was provided to Megan by Chris Tylor, one of our hero’s descendants and we owe him thanks for providing copies of these. In addition, since this was put on line in 2012 John Young from Wellington in Somerset sent some comments on the text, comments such as this are added in parenthesis.

1998.271.35.EBTylor1998.271.35 E.B. TylorContents:

  • Tylor's anthropology
  • Tylor's sources
  • What was Tylor's collection of objects for?
  • Tylorian archival holdings (probably an incomplete list)

Tylor’s anthropology

According to the 2004 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Tylor he was described as the ‘father of anthropology’, and nineteenth century anthropology was known as ‘Mr Tylor's science’. Stocking in 1963 suggested that the word ‘culture’ with its ‘modern technical or anthropological meaning was established in English in Tylor in 1871, though it seems not to have penetrated to any general or ‘complete’ British or American dictionary until more than fifty years later’. [Stocking, 1963: 783] However, he does also add:

‘Traditional account would have it that Edward Burnett Tylor created a science by defining its substance—culture. But story recognizes also that Tylor did not invent the word, that it had then and continues to have now a congeries of “humanist” meanings in addition to its “correct” anthropological meaning.’ [Stocking, 1963: 783]

Later Stocking would remark about him and the discipline:

‘Tylor’s conception of anthropology as a liberal “reformer’s science” purging Victorian culture of the unexamined “survivals” of traditional “superstition ...” [Stocking, 1995: xiv]

In his obituary in American Anthropologist 1917 (19: 262-268) Robert Lowie stated:

‘Tylor’s vision embraced, to cite his own definition of culture, ‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’.

Lowie added:

‘The very idea of introducing into a branch of knowledge that is so often the happy hunting-ground of the curiosity-seeking dilettante something of the rigor of the exact sciences is one of wellnigh unparalleled magnificence. Nothing that Tylor ever did serves so decisively to lift him above the throng of his fellow-workers.’

and again:

‘Over and above his specific contributions, Tylor had a clear vision of the place of ethnology in modern civilization. The facts of primitive life were to him not mere specimens for a museum of psychological oddities nor was he altogether satisfied with using them as bricks for a theory of cultural development. Beyond its academic aspects he maintained that “such research has its practical side, as a source of power destined to influence the course of modern ideas and actions.”

In 1952 Kroeber and Kluckhohn observed that Tylor was ‘deliberately establishing a science by defining its subject matter’. [1952, 150-1 quoted in B. Saler ‘E.B. Tylor and the Anthropology of Religion’, American Anthropologist vol 2 no 1 (May 1997) ‘paper prepared for 95th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association November 21 1996].

Marett remarks that:

‘... Tylor’s interest lay rather in the unity underlying this all too conspicuous difference. The need of his age was to proclaim that mankind is a many in one, with the emphasis on one. ... Natural Science, with no dogma to uphold, no axe to grind, was now prepared to state a case for human unity ... Tylor, in throwing in his lot as a student of Man with the new archaeology and the new biology, supported their demand for an indefinite allowance of time in which to find room for the human life-process to have run its leisurely course. His scientific purpose is the same, namely, to examine origins. His contribution to the question of unity is not show wherein it consists or ought to consist, but rather how it has come about. ... Being chiefly concerned, then, with the cultural and hence mental aspect of human development, Tylor makes language his point of departure. ...’ [Marett, 1936: 48]

Tylor’s defined civilization as:

‘Civilization actually existing among mankind in different grades, we are enabled to estimate and compare it by positive examples. The educated world of Europe and America practically settles a standard by simply placing its own nations at one end of the social series and savage tribes at the other, arranging the rest of mankind between these limits according as they correspond more closely to savage or to cultural life. The principle criteria of classification are the absence or presence, high or low development, of the industrial arts, ... the extent of scientific knowledge, the definiteness of moral principles, the condition of religious belief and ceremony, the degree of social and political organization and so forth. Thus, on the definite basis of compared facts, ethnographers are able to set up at least a rough scale of civilization. Few would dispute that the following races are arranged rightly in order of culture:— Australian, Tahitian, Aztec, Chinese, Italian.’ [Tylor, 1871: I 23-24, quoted in Stocking, 1963: 788]

‘Wherever anthropologists have been able to show definite evidence and inference, for instance, in the developments series of arts in the Pitt-Rivers [sic] Museum, at Oxford, not only specialists but the educated world generally are ready to receive the results and assimilate them into public opinion. Strict method has, however, as yet only been introduced over part of the anthropological field. There is still to be overcome a certain not unkindly hesitancy on the part of men engaged in the precise operations of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, to admit that the problems of anthropology are amenable to scientific treatment. It is my aim to show that the development of institutions may be investigated on a basis of tabulation and classification.’ [Tylor, 1889 ‘On a method of investigating the development of institutions; applied to laws of marriage and descent’ JAI vol 18 (1889) 245 - 272]

Tylor, like Pitt Rivers believed that ‘the condition of modern savages illustrates the condition of ancient stone age peoples, representatives of a stage of culture at once early in date and low in degree. The Tasmanian specimens and records now place us in full view of the state of a people in the palaeolithic stage, who may have lasted on in their remote and unvisited home from the distant ages when rudely chipped stones grasped in the hand were still the best implements of mankind ... The life of these savages proves to be of undeveloped type alike in arts and institutions, so much so that the distinction of being the lowest of normal tribes may be claimed for them. Still, though the difference between them and even their Australian neighbours is enough to mark lowness of stage, it by no means amounts to an immeasureable interval. Their palaeolithic state does accompany a corresponding lowness of general condition, as compared with that of modern neolithic savages. But the passage from neolithic to palaeolithic only carries us back a stage. The great initial developments of language, arts, religion, society, still remain in the remote background of human development.’ [Tylor, ‘On the Tasmanians as Representatives of Palaeolithic Man’ JAI vol 23 (1894) 141-152, 152]

Even at the end of his life he seems to have held that modern primitive peoples lives and work could be used to illustrate ancient times. A draft for a publication, which was never actually published so far as we are aware, written around 1910 says:

It is now some while since I began to press on anthropologists the importance of this comparison of ancient with modern stone age peoples, as disclosing to us the earliest available evidence of primitive savage conditions. But hitherto I have hesitated to deal fully with the subject, in hopes that more complete evidence might be accessible. As to the historical records of native Tasmanian arts and manners there seems little of consequence to be added to the information in Mr Ling Roth's 'Aborigines of Tasmania'. But of late I have been fortunate in obtaining by the help of Mr E.S. Anthony and Mr Paxton Moir fuller collections of native stone implements than had been known before. These have been taken from the shell-heaps on the coast, left there by natives who resorted there to feed on shellfish, just as in Europe on the Scandinavian coasts. The stone implements of pre-historic men are found in the ... [draft ends here] [Tylor papers, PRM ms collection, page 18]

Stocking describes Tylor as attending ‘to the evolutionary study of culture, with emphasis on language, myth, religion and material culture’ [Stocking, 1995: 3] Stocking describes Tylor as seeming:

‘ have collected systematic information on [the geographical distribution of “some remarkable customs” including marriage prohibitions, avoidance, and the couvade] and other sociological matters. Twenty-three years later, in what was surely the most important contribution to his later years, he presented the results of an analysis of data on some 350 different peoples, first in a public lecture at Oxford and then to his anthropological confreres in London.’ [Stocking, 1995: 3]

Stocking describes this paper, ‘On a method of investigating the development of institutions..’ [1888], as containing ‘in compressed form all the major methodological and conceptual assumptions of evolutionary anthropology ...’ [Stocking, 1995: 3] Stocking believes that the ‘... concepts of survivals was the linch-pin of Tylor’s reasoning ...’ [Stocking, 1995: 6] Tylor himself summarised this in his concluding remarks:

‘Even the diagrams of this paper may suffice to show that the institutions of man are as distinctly stratified as the earth on which he lives. They succeed each other in series substantially uniform over the globe, independent of what seems the comparatively superficial differences of race and language, but shaped by similar human nature acting through successively changed conditions of savage, barbaric and civilised life.’ [Tylor, 1888, ‘On the method of investigating the development of institutions, applied to laws of marriage and descent’ JAI 21: 248, 269 quoted in Stocking, 1995: 8]

Stocking remarks that this climactic quotation suggests:

‘... Tylor’s paper was in fact a powerfully condensed summary representation of twenty-five years of social evolutionary argument. All of the evolutionary principles were there: the psychic unity of mankind, the uniform stages of development, the doctrine of survivals, and, of course, the comparative method, which was the primary focus of the paper. All the major evolutionary writers were not only referred to but brought together within a single interpretive frame. And throughout there was the characteristic tone of tolerantly patronizing ethnocentrism: savage customs might be farcical, but viewed in evolutionary context, they were rational, and they could be made the subject of systematic scientific investigation. If one were to choose a single paper to exemplify the paradigm of social evolutionary argument, one would be had put to find a better one than this. The difficulty—clear now, though it could not have been to Tylor—was that it was not he prospective exemplar of an ascendant paradigm, but the retrospective exemplar of a paradigm about to enter a period of decline. This is not to say that Tylor’s paper was without influence on later anthropology. Quite the contrary: it was one of the most important single papers in the history of the discipline, widely influential at the turn of the century, and continuing to be widely cited ... into the second half of the twentieth century.’ [Stocking, 1995: 10]

Marett remarks of Tylor’s scientific methods:

‘... the Tylorian method, which in this country has had a host of imitators, of whom Sir James Frazer may be selected for mention honoris causa, is to gather first and sift afterwards.’ [Marett, 1936: 69]

Tylor was the quintessential ‘armchair anthropologist’. Although he travelled a great deal, most of his evidence was gleaned from other authors etc rather than personal experience. Stocking remarks:

‘Despite its self-consciously innovative statistical method, Tylor’s paper of 1888 was a quintessential product of “armchair anthropology”—though perhaps not in a literal sense, since the tabulation of all that data, as well as the correspondence by which a good deal of it was collected, could only have been done at a desk. But the paper still took for granted the division of labour previously assumed by Notes and Queries, between the “travellers and residents in uncivilized lands,” who were “not anthropologists themselves”—and whose observations it sought to improve—and those who carry on “the scientific study of anthropology at home.” ... Tylor had first-hand familiarity with the United States government’s Bureau of Ethnology, which under Powell’s directions had since 1879 been sending investigators to collect information among the Indian tribes of the United States. He knew of the work of Frank Hamilton Cushing ... which was one of the more richly presaging premonitions of the ethnographic style of twentieth century anthropology. Tylor had in fact ended his talk with a call for an international effort to carry on “a prompt and minute observation” among the “hundred or more peoples in the world” on the verge of extinction, in order to save “some fast vanishing memory of their social laws and customs.” But there was no explicit indication that this effort was to be carried out by investigators different from those for whom Notes and Queries had been intended. By 1888, however Tylor was in fact already himself involved in ethnographic enterprises foreshadowing a more modern model. At the Montreal meeting of the British Association, where he had served as first president of the newly formed anthropological section, Tylor played a leading role in the establishment of a committee “for the purpose of investigating and publishing reports on the physical characters, languages, and industrial and social condition of the North-western Tribes of the Dominion of Canada.” ... Furthermore, Tylor was no longer willing to rest satisfied with research by questionnaire. From the beginning of the Northwest Coast project, it was assumed that, on the basis of the results of such an initial inquiry, some of the “more promising districts” would be the subjects of “personal survey... By the time Tylor published his 1888 paper ... the collection of anthropological data by academically trained natural scientists who came to define themselves as “anthropologists”, who were directly involved in the evaluation if not the formulation of anthropological theory, [was beginning] ...” [Stocking, 1995: 84-86.]

One of the ways in which Tylor can be seen as an innovator within anthropology is by his use of statistics in his 1888 paper ‘On a method of investigating the development of institutions...’ when he used rough statistical methods to shore up his theorizing. Köbben states:

‘... he, too, was of Bastian’s opinion “that in statistical investigation the future of anthropology lies” [Tylor, 1889: 269]. Tylor ... did not expect the truth to crystallize automatically from such a process. While claiming that the rules of human conduct are amenable to classification in compact masses so as to show, by strict numerical treatment, their relations to one another, he added: “It is only at this point that speculative explanation must begin ...”’ [Köbben, 1952: 131]

Stocking points out that:

‘During his lifetime, Tylor had several direct experiences with ethnographic “otherness”: his early travels in Mexico and the United States, his subsequent attendance at London seances with a view to their anthropological significance, and a visit to the Zuni pueblo during his American trip of 1884. But for the most part, his anthropology was very much in the “armchair” tradition. He read widely in classical sources, in travel literature, and in accounts of exploration and missionary activity—in most of the published sources, ancient and modern, that might provide information about the variety of human customs and belief. And he read critically. ... As his “adhesions” paper suggests, from an early point Tylor was interested in the improvement of ethnographic data. In 1874 he played the dominant intellectual role in the formation of the British Association’s Notes and Queries on Anthropology ... Although its questions about religion and mythology were clearly structured by the categories of Tylor’s Primitive Culture, the emphasis was on detailed and careful observation ...’ [Stocking, 1995: 15]

Stocking comments:

‘His equation was rather an attempt to define a cultureless being that could serve as base point from which to reconstruct, not the ‘early history of mankind’, but the ‘prehistory’ of human culture. In this context, the problem was no longer to trace history backward, but to reason forward, using what has since been called ‘the comparative method’ and ‘the doctrine of survivals’, to provide a plausible sequence of progressive cultural development—an account of how humans, from being once culturally close to the ape, had risen to the status of civilized gentleman. Although not explicitly so formulated, Tylor’s writing of the later 1860s can be seen as an effort to complement the Darwinian argument, by providing a developmental cultural chain that would take the place of otherwise ‘missing links’ in the evolutionary argument. To do this required not only the rejection of the degenerationist view of savagery ... It required more than the arrangement of archaeological and ethnological artifacts in sequences from simple to complex ... It required the establishment of a plausible naturalistic account of the development of the distinctive features of human spiritual culture ... It was this task ... to which Tylor devoted his magnum opus, Primitive Culture.’ [Stocking, 1994: xvi-xvii]

Stocking again:

‘By 1871, the basic framework of Tylor’s anthropology had been completed. It was a structure that manifested the moments of its own evolution. The traditional ethnological issues he had treated in the early 1860s were still reflected in his writing of the 1890s. He was never a ‘unilinear’ evolutionist in any stereotypical sense; issues of cultural diffusion—notably the Asian origins of the Aztec game of Patolli—continued to concern him until late in his anthropological career. And although he was in some respects the quintessential ‘armchair anthropologist’, he was from an early point concerned with improving the quality of ethnographic information upon which anthropological comparison was based ...’ [Stocking, 1994: xix-xx]

‘... he may ... be considered an archetypical representative of what has been called ‘classical evolutionism’ in anthropology. The paradigmatic exemplar is an essay he published in 1888 ‘On a method of investigating the development of institutions ...’. ... Based on data on 350 societies he had collected over three decades from a wide variety of sources ... Tylor’s essay sought to establish laws of evolutionary development on a statistical basis that scientists might find convincing. .. From the point of view of ‘scientific revolutions’, however, the difficulty is that the 1888 essay was not the prospective exemplar of an ascendant paradigm, but the retrospective exemplar of a paradigm about to enter a period of decline.’ [Stocking, 1994: xx-xxii]

Hodgen states:

‘Tylor was the author of over two hundred and fifty papers and five books, all of singularly high and even quality. The two treatises for which he is remembered [24] were published in 1865 and 1871, during the first ten years of his working life, a period spent almost entirely in satisfying himself that social development rather than social degradation was the rule. His work was early remarked by his contemporaries for the penetration with which he recognized materials hitherto unknown or neglected, and the originality with which they were employed. ... Although Tylor was alert to all the problems of mid-century ethnology, his judgement of other scholars was often dependent upon their willingness to be equally certain of its applicability. ... Tylor formulated theories with scientific tentativeness, but the reader of his earlier and more vigorous work cannot avoid the conclusion that their structure and merit are derived from the emotional zest with which he entered the lists in favour of the progressionists.’ [Hodgen, 1931: 317]

‘It was Tylor’s conviction, following laborious personal practise, that more profitable work could be done by collecting data than by spinning theories. He objected with particular emphasis to the construction of sweeping generalizations on the foundations of one or two unchecked facts.’ [Hodgen, 1931: 318]

‘Primitive Culture is the mature statement of a seasoned scholar. In it Tylor wisely chose to return for review to his original problem, progression versus degradation, and to the arguments for each side of the controversy. Although he remained convinced that “the main tendency of culture from primeval up to modern times” was from savagery to civilization, he acknowledged other modes of connection such as degeneration, survival and revival. [Hodgen, 1931: 320]

‘The data of archaeology is little used in Primitive Culture, except as a guide to the theory of development illustrated by the serial arrangement of artifacts. Language is discussed as a means of sustaining the right of primitive people to a place in the series, but secondarily, and with repetition from the Researches. Tylor’s most vigorous efforts were given to the search for existing but outworn practices and ideas which could be traced to an early stage of advanced culture and paralleled with similar elements in the cultures of existing savages ...’ [Hodgen, 1931: 322]

‘In appraising Edward Burnett Tylor and his doctrine of survivals, it becomes apparent, that in formulating it he filled the role of a conserving rather than an innovating figure. ... Although he was less ready than many of his intellectual generation to accept all similarities in manners and customs as to equal evidential value in the reconstruction of the early history of man, there were other old methodological ideas to which he loyally adhered. With his contemporaries he accepted the idea of progress or development and employed the comparative method. With them, he utilized clues afforded by excavated artifacts. Like them, his attention was caught by the irrational but tenacious character of some beliefs and practices. This he ascribed to their greater age and their derivation without development from savage ancestors.’ [Hodgen, 1931: 323]

Urry states:

‘Tylor and [Primitive Culture] were to dominate British anthropology for the next thirty years. Primitive culture was written, however, on the basis of very little evidence; Tylor had to depend on many scanty and sometimes questionable sources. ... Tylor was very sensitive to the problems involved in using such diverse sources, but in Primitive culture he stated that any theories must be firmly rooted in actual facts.’ [Urry, 1972: 47]

‘Tylor and his contemporaries were indeed trying to raise a science, and they fully realised the importance of accurate information and some of the difficulties involved in collecting it. They openly encouraged the collection of information: ... Tylor by contributing a number of sections of anthropological questions to guide books. Stocking has noted that Tylor’s failure to produce any major work after 1881 has been attributed to his concern with the propagation of anthropology; high among these concerns was the production of such guides.’ [Urry, 1972: 47] [25]

Perhaps a clue as to why Tylor decided to make anthropology the basis of his life’s work can be gleaned from the following passage:

‘In times when subjects of education have multiplied, it may seem at first sight a hardship to lay on the already heavily-pressed student a new science. But it will be found that the real effect of Anthropology is rather to lighten than increase the strain of learning. In the mountains we see the bearers of heavy burdens contentedly shoulder a carrying-frame besides, because they find its weight more than compensated by the convenience of holding together and balancing their load. So it is with the science of Man and Civilization, which connects into a more manageable whole the scattered subjects of an ordinary education. Much of the difficulty of learning and teaching lies in the scholar’s not seeing clearly what each science or art is for, what its place is among the purposes of life. If he knows something of its early history, and how it arose from the simpler wants and circumstances of mankind, he finds himself better able to lay hold of it than when, as to often happens, he is called on to take up an abtruse subject not at the beginning but in the middle. ... It is needless to make a list of fall the branches of education in knowledge and art; there is not one which may not be the easier and better learnt for knowing its history and place in the general science of Man.’ [Tylor, 1930: xi-xii]

Marett’s summary of his work is interesting, as it shows what the next generation of Oxford anthropologists thought of him:

As for scope, his main point was that it must be a universal Science of Man, a synthesis of all that there is to be known about him from experience, that is, in the light of his history ... Tylorian anthropology concerns itself with the unity of mankind more directly envisaged as a continuity. As science it is history and something more, namely, an attempt not only to describe, but likewise in some measure to explain, the historical process. Tylor was an orthodox Darwinian ... Though he occasionally used ... the rather high-sounding phrase “evolution” ... Tylor decidedly prefers to speak simply of the “development” of culture. [Marett, 1936: 17-19]

 According to Ackerman, Frazer's biographer, Tylor's was an 'anthropology of origins':

'His self-assigned task was to recover the prehistory of mankind. He starts from the Enlightenment premise that a fundamental unity exists among humankind, and that the similarities among cultures far outweigh the dissimilarities. His work is thus a reflection of the tide of liberal democracy rising all over Europe among the educated middle classes, for comparative evolutionary anthropology may be thought of as a scientific, 'objective' demonstration of the unity of mankind that both the deists on one hand and the romantics on the other had been proclaiming in their different ways since the American and French revolutions. Tylor postulated the existence of an organic law of development and progress operative in the growth of human institutions. This meant that change was gradual and orderly, much the same the world over, and that human institutions, once simple and confused, had become complex and highly coordinated over the passage of time ... [this] was not easy to demonstrate. His problem was one of evidence. Writing before the archaeological data produced by the later excavations in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean became available, how was Tylor to substantiate his statement that human society had evolved, along with everything else in the natural world? ... The solution lay in the comparative method and the doctrine of survivals. Tylor ... simply asserted that, human nature and development being relatively homogeneous, one might legitimately discover, in the behaviour of contemporary primitive peoples, living links in the evolutionary chain. Despite the absence of any evidence that their histories were any less lengthy than those of their European observers, these "savages" were postulated as living fossils, to show man as he was thousands of years ago, before some or all of the great intellectual and cultural advances occurred that had (inevitably) led to the societies of the modern West. Once this giant step was taken, it was not much further to the next: to obtain the needed dynamic view of prehistoric development, one might string together items of culture taken from the most diverse primitive societies if in their totality they illustrated the steady upward movement of human development. The burgeoning ethnography of the time ... was thus levied upon to provide examples of al the various "stages" of human behavioural and social development.' [Ackerman, 1987: 77-8]

What did contemporaries and others think of Tylor?

When Tylor was appointed Professor of Anthropology The Athenaeum of May 25 1895 announced the appointment saying:.

.. The name of Dr Tylor has been associated the world over with stimulating and original research, with lucid and laborious induction, with brilliant and fascinating generalization, with caution and candour as well as with depth of reasoning. His association with the Anthropological Museum of Oxford places within reach of his classes a rare means of experimental study. The other English universities may, perhaps, be expected soon to emulate Oxford. [Athenaeum, 25 May 1895, ‘Anthropological Notes’]

According to Urry [1972: 47] Andrew Lang, writing in 1898 praised Tylor for his careful separation of fact from fantasy in his anthropological writing. James Frazer also had a very positive view of Tylor:

'From the record of the ensuing discussion [following a talk given by Frazer to a meeting of the Anthropological Instiute in London on 10 March 1885, 'On certain burial customs as illustrative of the primitive theory of the Soul'] we learn that Tylor himselff "remarked that Mr Frazer's original and ingenious treatment of the evidence must materially advance the study of animistic funeral customs." On his side Frazer "expressed his deep gratification at the interest which Mr Tylor had expressed in his paper. It was the writings of Mr Tylor which had first interested him in anthropology, and the perusal of them had marked an epoch in his life".' [Ackerman, 1987: 67, quoting from the JAI 48-49]

When Tylor celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday in 1907 The Oxford Magazine of 31 October 1907 stated:

Though October is already some way behind, we desire to add our contribution to the stream of congratulations that has poured in upon Dr Tylor from every quarter of the world of letters on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday. At the same time we wish to congratulate ourselves as a University on being so intimately associated with the man who more than any one else ... deserves to be hailed as “the father of Anthropology” For some twenty-four years Dr Tylor has lectured in Oxford without a break on an endless variety of subjects that cover the whole vast field occupied by the science he has made his own. ... One thing that it is especially interesting to note in Dr Tylor’s case is what compensations there may be for the absence of a University training. He alone, perhaps, of all our doctors and instructors has never been in for an examination in his life. Instead of repairing hither to obtain honours and “Blues’—for a man of his intellectual and physical stature might have made equally sure of both—he travelled about the world, and in particular to Mexico; in which country, as witness his first book ... he received his call—the call of the wild. And we others, academy trained, assiduous practisers of Latin prose, we have not studied the savage at first hand, and we cannot write Tylor’s wonderful English, almost childlike in its simplicity, wholly giant-like in its force. May Dr Tylor long continue to abide amongst us, with health fully restored so as to match the wealth of his great learning.

In 1907 Tylor also received the Huxley medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute. In the Morning Post of November 6 1907 is stated:

‘... Professor D.J. Cunningham, of Edinburgh, remarked that Dr Tylor was the great leader and thinker in those branches of anthropology which he had himself developed, and of which he was acknowledged to be the founder. His work had had a remarkable influence on the progress of the science.

The event was also recorded in the Morning Advertiser, Globe, Daily Telegraph and Pall Mall Gazette.

When Tylor announced his retirement many newspapers published accounts which give their views of Tylor:

‘Dr Tylor’s reputation is one of the longest enjoyed by any living man of science. He published his first book ... in 1859 and at once took his place among original observers and thinkers. ... He received the honorary degree of D.C.L. at the Encaenia of 1875. He was not then an Oxford man, but became so in 1883 on his appointment to succeed Professor Henry Smith as Keeper of the University Museum. Very shortly after he was made Reader in Anthropology, and was in 1895 raised to the status of Professor, and somewhat later because Honorary Fellow of Balliol College. His personal attractiveness, amiability, and generosity have endeared him to numberless friends.’ [The Times December 10 1909 ‘University Intelligence’]

‘It is announced from Oxford that Dr Tylor is resigning the Chair of Anthropology at the end of the year. The loss to the University is undoubtedly very great, yet not so great in reality as in appearance, since Dr Tylor will be at hand to help and advise as heretofore. After all, when a great thinker and writer has devoted the best of his time for a quarter of a century to academic work such as lecturing and organizing, he well deserves a holiday in the shape of some literary leisure. There is no need to speak here of Dr Tylor’s services to the world at large. It seems a fitting occasion, however, on which to say a word about the debt which Oxford owes him. ... Classification of races, distribution of culture, ethics, games, language, law, magic, marriage, property, religion, survivals, writing—here in alphabetical order is a chance selection of the topics on which he has from time to time discoursed. Again, his work in connexion with the Pitt-Rivers [sic] Museum has been simply invaluable. Lastly he has succeeded, after many years of patient effort, in creating for anthropology not merely a nominal, but a real place in the educational studies of the University. His ‘Memorandum on the Present State and Future Needs of Anthropology in Oxford’ (1902) marks an epoch in the history of the subject, so far at least as Oxford is concerned. Not only is useful research work being done by senior students ... There is likewise a Diploma Course ... and the School can already boast of attracting students of very various aims, such as future “researcher”, explorer, missionary, Colonial administrator and so on. Dr Tylor who has always insisted on the practical no less than the theoretical importance of anthropological science, is known to be extremely gratified at the way in which the subject has been lately gaining ground in the University. ... [The Athenaeum, December 18 1909 ‘Resignation of Dr E.B. Tylor’]

Twenty-five years of lecturing and organizing is a large is a large concession on the part of a thinker, and writer of genius to the [2 Greek words]. ... Thanks to Dr Tylor’s untiring efforts, Anthropology has made steady progress within the University ... It is doubtless because he is satisfied that the ship is through the narrows and has fairly started on its way that Dr Tylor finds it possible to leave the bridge. [The Oxford Magazine, 20 January 1910]

An undated reference to Tylor:

Harper’s Monthly Magazine for July contains an excellent portrait of Dr E.B. Tylor (of Linden, Wellington) and in the course of an article on “Social Life in Oxford” says: Turning southward again and strolling through the west side of the Parks, one comes to the South Parks Road, where stands the house of Dr E.B. Tylor, the anthropologist. He is one of the most delightful of all the scientific men of the day, and his house, to which he and his wife delight in welcoming their friends, is a peculiarly pleasant one. I once heard a young man exclaim, after a talk with Dr Tylor, “He is the simplest ‘great man’ I have ever talked with,” a remark which only serves to put into words the impression he makes upon all who know him.

When Tylor died there was another opportunity for the newspapers to comment on his career:

‘... Tylor was a tall man of imposing appearance and his friendly, modest courtesy will never be forgotten by those who had the privilege of knowing him. ... On looking through the compendious bibliography of Tylor from 1861 to 1907 compiled by Miss Freire-Marreco .... it is obvious that, apart from his four books, his activity largely manifested itself in lectures, reviews, and addresses. His papers, even when descriptive, were always marked by a breadth of view and an endeavour to drive home the lessons to be garnered from the facts. ... Although Tylor illustrated his theses with a wealth of references, he never permitted himself to be swamped by them. He will always be regarded as the first and foremost exponent of the comparative method in this country, and though, as was natural for a contemporary of Darwin and Huxley, he was imbued with the principle of development, yet he was fully alive to the borrowing of culture and to cultural drifts ... Tylor was always interested in method, and it was mainly by his efforts in this direction that ethnology can now claim to be a science. [A.C. Haddon ‘Sir E.B. Tylor F.R.S.’ Nature, January 11 1917]

‘The death of Sir E.B. Tylor removed a truly grand figure and one of the glories of English Science from us. If the race of mankind in its natural being and tendency was his study, he was himself in his prime a noble specimen of that race in body, heart and head. ... That he wrote a beautiful prose style the many who know his books; especially the famous earlier ones are well aware. But perhaps only a few knew that he was also a poet who could add an excellent stanza to Andrew Lang’s Double Ballade of Primitive Man. He was in truth very witty and ready, as for instance when he said on the spur of the moment of a certain form of Japanese religion in which the ceremonial drinking of tea played the chief part, c’est pur théisme. It was not always possible to tell whether he was serious or in jest, as when he said in one of his lectures on Totems with regard to a certain cult being started by the Cherokee Indians, “That certainly we cannot believe, for we all know the Cherokees.” And he was, with his large nature and splendid frame, as kindly and warm-hearted as he was strong and eager, one whose science Germany might envy and whose spirit they would do well to emulate. [The Oxford Magazine January 26 1917]

Obituaries appeared in a wide ranging selection of publications including the Scotsman, Glasgow Herald, Irish Times, Western Daily News, Somerset County Gazette, Taunton Mail,, Christian World, Inquirer, Oxford Chronicle, The Wellington Weekly News, The Morning Post, Saturday Review, Birmingham Post, Northern Whig, Daily Telegraph, Globe, Manchester Guardian, The Times, etc.

The essays published for his Festschrift include one from Andrew Lang:

... my acquaintance with Mr Tylor and his great book began thirty-five years ago, when he, beside Sir John Lubbock, already towered above all British anthropologists, like Saul above his people. ... In 1871 he produced his chief work, Primitive Culture, and at once appeared as the foremost of British anthropologists. The extent of his reading, his critical acumen, his accuracy, his power of exposition, his open mind, and his scientific caution makes this book no passing essay, but a possession for ever. He laid the firm foundations of a structure to which, with accruing information, others might make additions; he himself had made and is making additions; but his science passed, thanks to him, out of the pioneering stage, at a single step. ... Not the least of Mr Tylor’s gifts, as the founder of his science, is the happy simplicity and unobtrusive humour of his style. Not stuffed with strange technical words, his language, as in his admirable chapter on ‘Survival in Culture’ ... is so attractive, so pellucid, that any intelligent child could read it with pleasure, and become a folk-lorist unawares. ... On re-perusing the long familiar pages of Primitive Culture one is constantly impressed anew by their readableness. Never sinking to the popular, Mr Tylor never ceases to be interesting, so vast and varied are his stores of learning, so abundant his wealth of apposite and accurate illustration. Ten years was this work in the writing, and it may be said that le temps n’y mord, that though much has been learned in the last thirty years, no book can ever supersede Primitive Culture. It teaches us that, in examining the strangest institutions and beliefs, we are not condemned à chercer raison où il n’y en a pas as Dr Johnson supposed. [Andrew Lang, ‘Edward Burnett Tylor’ in Anthropological Essays presented to Edward Burnett Tylor ...’ p1, 5-7, 12

Myres opens his chapter in Anthropological Essays for Tylor on the occasion of ... on 'The Sigynnae of Herodotus an Ethnological Problem of the Early Iron Age' with a rather obscure reference to him, thus (p.255):

'The time has now gone by when it was safe to jeer at Herodotus as a mere retailer of travellers' stories. For us the Father of History is no less the Father of Anthropology. That he is become so, for some of us, is the outcome of a request made in all diffidence by certain Oxford undergraduates, in the Easter Term of 1892, that the Reader in Anthropology would lecture, if only for once, on the earlier books of Herodotus, or at least on such passages of them as demanded anthropological commentary. No one, I think, of the audience of those lectures on 'Anthropology as related to Ancient and Modern History', has forgotten the wealth of learning, and the truly planetary outlook with which that experiment was made.' (adding that as a result, JLM has never regretted devoting his life to the mass of new material available for the interpretation of the ancient Mediterranean world.)

Developing an evolutionary perspective, he began to view culture as a continuum and to search for the origins of culture, and the laws of cultural progress. The latter, he believed, were to be found in the nature of the human mind.

Wilson D. Wallis states:

E.B. Tylor was no doubt the mostly highly honoured by his contemporaries. In the volume of essays in Tylor’s honor presented to him in 1907, on his seventy-fifth birthday, Lang refers to him as “the father of Anthropology in English”. Probably no anthropologist—using the term in its widest sense—would have begrudged him that honor. ... Like Lyell, Darwin, Galton, and a few other pioneers, Tylor had done his principal work outside academic halls. He was a Quaker. Boas told me that he was staying with Tylor the night before the University Convocation was to pass on the matter of Tylor’s Professorship, and it was anticipated that the clergy would attend en masse to voice their strong opposition to it. [Wallis, 1957: 781-2]

How did Tylor acquire information (and objects)?

Tylor obtained ethnographic information from people working in the field:

‘Like several other armchair anthropologists, Tylor established postal contact with various “men on the spot” who seemed particularly well-situated and competent observers, often with an interest in the general issues that were the focus of his theoretical concern. Although communication could take months, some of these people became active participants in the ethnographic process, answering queries, volunteering information, sometimes writing papers which Tylor shepherded into print. A number of the most active and sophisticated were in fact missionaries ...’ [Stocking, 1995: 16]

It is likely that some objects were obtained via the same route.

One report of Tylor obtaining an object, though not for himself or the Pitt Rivers Museum is given here:

‘About 1880 I had chanced to go to the county parish of Holcombe Rogus in Devonshire to pay an afternoon visit to the vicar, Mr. Wills. A remark of mine as to a stone implement on the mantelpiece led to the unexpected remark that there were things upstairs from the Pelew Islands. When I protested that nothing from thence had come to England since the time when Captain Wilson brought over ‘Prince Lee Boo,’ whose sad story is told in the once familiar poem, it was answered that the late Mrs. Wills was of Captain Wilson’s family, and had inherited his curiosities. Before that, two generations of children had played havoc with them, but in the attic there were still the great bird-bowl and the inlaid wooden sword, and the rupak or bone bracelet, that prized ornament of chiefs, with other familiar objects figured in Keate’s book. I represented that they ought to be in the national collection, and not long after, Mr. Wills, on his death-bed, ordered that they should be sent to me. They duly took their deserved places in the ethnographic department of the British Museum, where no doubt they will long outlast the amiable but hopelessly degenerate islanders, the picture of whose social decay has been drawn with such minute faithfulness by Kubary.’ (Tylor, Introduction to Ratzel’s Völkerkunde (‘The History of Mankind’): viii-ix)

Tylor obtained some objects via friends and peers in the international anthropological and archaeological worlds (for example, material from North America via the Smithsonian Institute: John Wesley Powell and James Stevenson).

Obviously gifts of objects were often prompted by conversation with Tylor as the following example suggests:

In the course of a conversation in your Drawing Room a few months ago you mentioned the superstitious habit of some people in carrying the chopped off tip of a tongue as a charm. At the same time you asked me if I ever could obtain one that had actually been carried to let you have it. Quite unexpectedly a few days ago I managed to obtain one that had been carried for some length of time and I now enclose it in this envelope in the hope that you may find it useful in adding to your collection of such things. It is a genuine specimen. I have not carried it about myself in order to qualify it. (Albert Wm. Brown, Tunbridge Wells, to Tylor 13.10.1897. Original emphasis. Tylor Papers, PRM Manuscript Collections).

This was written on college paper, by Brown, a college exhibitioner reading natural sciences at Christ Church College.

In return for the objects he was sent Tylor was not asked for a great deal:

I got the hooks and box from Captain Martin of our Mission Schooner “John Hunt”, and promised him that they should be presented to your Museum in his name. When you write next, please devote a small scrap of paper to an acknowledgement of receipt that I may hand it over to him as a bait to catch more specimens (L. Fison to E.B. Tylor, 17.08.1883. Tylor Papers, PRM Manuscript Collections).

Using a list originally compiled by Sandra Dudley, subsequently amended by Petch to take account of improved information, the following list of people associated with the Tylor collection was prepared. Note that those items which appear to have been retained by Tylor as part of his private collection up to his death are marked by words ‘[Private EBT collection]’:

1. C.C. Abbott - also objects from him donated via Arthur and John Evans, 1 object sent to Tylor by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

2. Miss A. Alger - Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

3. William George Aston - Also gave directly to PRM. Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

4. Adolf Bastian - Sent to EBT 1883, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

5. Octavius Bates - Also gave directly to PRM. Sent to EBT in 1885, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

6. Possibly Alexander Montgomerie Bell - Also gave directly to PRM. and via above donor. Tylor might have been a previous owner of the objects

7. Giuseppe Bellucci - Also gave via Walter Leo Hildburgh and Wellcome Institute. Sent to Tylor in 1904 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

8. James Theodore Bent - Also gave directly to PRM. Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

9. A.W. Brown - Sent to EBT in 1885, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

10. Basil Hall Chamberlain - Sent to EBT in 1885, some donated by EBT between 1910 and 1916, others donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Some Private EBT collection]

11. Greville John Chester - One sent to EBT by 1890 rest unknown but all donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

12. Abraham Colles - Sent to EBT by 1911, donated by him 1911

13. C.P. Converse - via R.R. Redding to EBT in 1882 and donated at unknown date

14. John V. Cook - Also gave via other donors, especially Ernest Westlake. Sent to EBT in 1906, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

15. William Crooke - Also gave directly to PRM. Sent to EBT by 1916, donated by him 1916

16. J.E. or S. Dallas - Also gave directly to PRM via Sollas. Sent to EBT by 1916, donated by him 1916

17. Charles Darwin - Given by Robert Swinhoe to Charles Darwin (who was merely an other owner), given by Francis Darwin (Charles’ son) to EBT in 1888. Donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

18. James Leigh Strachan-Davidson - Also gave direct to PRM. Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

19. Juliet Duff - Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

20. Mrs Elton - Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

21. Arthur John Evans - Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

22. John Gwenogvryn Evans - Sent to EBT by 1886, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

23. Thomas Douglas Forsyth - Also gave directly to PRM (in same year). Sent to EBT by 1886, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

24. Robert Frazer - via Smithsonian Institute sent to EBT November 1884, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

25. William Wyatt Gill - Also gave direct to PRM and via OUMNH. Sent to EBT in 1884, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

26. Major Grant - Sent to EBT in 1889 and donated 1889 after loaned

27. Horatio Hale - Sent to EBT in 1896 and donated 1896

28. Benjamin Harrison - Other objects from Harrison donated via Committee of the British Association. Alfred Schwartz Barnes, Lord Avebury, William G. Wallace and direct. Sent to EBT in 1912 and donated 1912 and donated by Anna Tylor in 1917 [Some Private EBT collection]

29. Dudley Francis Amelius Hervey - One given to EBT and donated by him by 1911, others received by 1917 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

30. Miss Heweld - Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

31. Sydney John Hickson - Many donated directly. Sent to EBT by 1911 and donated 1911

32. J.R. Holland - Other owner only. Collected by Chester Macnaughton in 1890 and donated by EBT in 1916

33. P. Hopkins - Sent to EBT by 1882, donated by Anna Tylor’s executors / Dorothy Tylor in 1921 [Private EBT collection]

33. Eliot Howard - ?Relative [see below] Sent to EBT in 1896, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

35. Elsie Howard - Cousin, sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

36. Alfred William Howitt - Donated directly, also sent to EBT by 1908, some donated 1911, some donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Some Private EBT collection]

37. Frederick Wollaston Hutton - Sent to EBT in 1905 and donated 1913

38. James Johnstone - some donated via Henry Yule, others sent to EBT in 1885, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

39. A. Konoye - Sent to EBT December 1900, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

40. Edward Tyrrell Leith - Sent to EBT in 1889, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

41. Gulielma Lister - Also donated directly. Sent to EBT in 1895, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

42. Alfred Comyn Lyall - Mostly gave directly to PRM. Sent to EBT around 1890, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

43. R.A.S. possibly Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister - Sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

44. Chester Macnaughton - Sent to EBT in 1890 via JR Holland. Donated by Tylor in 1916.

45. Nora Mercer - Sent to EBT in 1892, donated by him in 1911

46. Joseph Paxton Moir - Some given to EBT by 1910 and donated by him in 1910, others sent by 1917 (also associated with Alexander Morton and WL Williamson) and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

47. James Mooney - Sent to EBT by 1897 and bequeathed by Anna Tylor / Dorothy Tylor 1921 [Private EBT collection]

48. Alexander Morton - Collected with W.L. Williamson and Joseph Paxton Moir, sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

49. John Linton Myres - sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

50. Antonio de Nino - via Janet Ann Duff-Gordon Ross, sent to EBT in 1905, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

51. Mr Parkman - Sent to EBT in 1892 as loan for museum, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

52. Cornelis Marinus Pleyte - Some donated direct to Museum, one also via Balfour, purchased by EBT from Pleyte in 1896, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

John Wesley Powell - donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

53. John Wesley Powell - James Stevenson was collector, Powell was ‘other owner’ (not really, it was Bureau of American Ethnology, he was just associated with it), sent to EBT around 1884, donated by EBT in 1911 or donated by Anna Tylor in 1917 [Private EBT collection]

54. R.R. Redding - other owner only, item collected by C.P. Converse, possibly donated 1882

55. Janet Ann Duff-Gordon Ross - Sent to EBT by 1911 donated by EBT in 1911, some objects collected by Antonio de Nino and given by Janet Ross to EBT in 1905 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

56. Johan Diedrich Eduard or Johannes Dietrich Eduard or Johannes Friedrich Eduard Schmeltz - sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

57. Prof Serrurier - sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

58. Jacob esh. Shellaby - via Alfred Harris, sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

59. Erminnie Smith - sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

60. Robert Murdoch Smith - some via OUMNH, one via EBT in 1888, others sent to EBT circa 1858 and bequeathed by Anna Tylor / Dorothy Tylor 1921 [Private EBT collection]

61. William Robertson Smith - sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

62. Frederick Starr - Some directly donated to PRM or via Folklore Society, others sent to EBT by 1917 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

63. James Stevenson - via John Wesley Powell sent to EBT around 1884, donated by EBT in 1911 or donated by Anna Tylor in 1917 [Private EBT collection]

64. F.P. Swemburgh - sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

65. Robert Swinhoe - via Charles Darwin and Francis Darwin, sent to EBT in 1888, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

66. Richard Carnac Temple - Sent to EBT by 1916, donated 1916

67. David Thomas - Also donated via Philip John Worsley, sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

68. Everard Im Thurn - Sent to EBT by 1889, donated 1889

69. Francis Fox Tuckett - Relative. Some donated to Museum direct, others sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

70. E.T.C. Werner Tunbridge [NB it does occur to me his name might be Werner and his place of residence Tunbridge!] sent to EBT by 1917, donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

71. John Oliver Wardrop - Sent to EBT in 1895 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

72. Chief White - Other owner, Field collector Horatio Hale, purchased by EBT circa 1896 and donated by him same year

73. W.L. Williamson - Sent to EBT by 1917 (also associated with Alexander Morton and Joseph Paxton Moir) and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

74. Bessie Wilson - Sent to EBT by 1917 and bequeathed by Anna Tylor / Dorothy Tylor 1921 [Private EBT collection]

75. J. Strode Wilson - Sent to EBT by 1917 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

76. Bertha Worsley - Item collected by David Thomas, given by Worsley to EBT by 1917 and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

77. Soldier of the Rifle Brigade - Charles E. Pole Carew gave to Edward Burnett Tylor, June, 1891, and donated by Anna Tylor 1917 [Private EBT collection]

4.4 What was his collection for?

The majority of Tylor's publications do not make specific reference to objects within his collection (or the Museum’s) so it seems that for the most part at least he did not obtain objects as specific examples to support his arguments, as Pitt Rivers did. He may, at least in part, have been a collector per se, collecting for the sheer delight in acquisition. It seems that, as with Balfour, he sometimes obtained objects which ‘duplicated’ other objects which were given direct to the museum. These duplicates were then later given to the Museum after his or his wife’s death. An example of this kind of method of acquisition might be 1917.53.433 etc given in 1917 but obtained by James Stevenson much earlier, similar examples of which were given to the Museum directly. Balfour also obtained objects in this way. Such acquisitions however do suggest that there was more to their collecting than acquiring objects for the Museum, it suggests to me a more personal interest. This is especially so as the objects were often similar, or identical to, objects in the Museum’s collections.

However, an unpublished ms of Tylor's in the PRM manuscript collections suggests that later in his career Tylor was specifically interested in addressing partticular objects, both within his own personal collection and within the Museum's. This manuscript is located in Box 5 'Notes'' of the Tylor ms collection and appears to be rough drafts, lists of reading and references, and notes for a publication, putatively titled, 'Origin and Spread of Cultures', and divided into 8 main chapters:

Chapter 1 - History and Prehistory

Chapter 2 - Eolithic and Palaeolithic Ages

Chapter 3 - Magic

Chapter 4 - Astrology

Chapter 5 - Deluge

Chapter 6 - Rosaries and Prayer Wheels

Chapter 7 - Games

Chapter 8 - Languages

It is chapter 4 which gives us a date for this work, as happening in 1910 or later. This is because in Tylor's notes he records that in this chapter he will look at several events forecast in various almanacks and comment upon them and he specifically mentions that he has chosen events in 1910.

It is clear that this publication, though no section appears to be finalised in this version at least, was going to deal with material culture much more directly than other publications. Here are some relevant extracts:

I possess one or two drawers-full [of stone tools] collected by Mr Benjamin Harrison of Ightham (Kent) or by myself under his guidance. [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 15]

This clearly suggests that at some point Tylor actually undertook some practical archaeological work, if only field walking.

It is especially interesting to see what position astrology occupies in our times. It has fallen to publications price a few pence and sold in shops in villages and outskirts of towns. I have before me the 6d almanacks of Ladkiel [and several named others] ... from each of which take here or there a prophetic remark or two from each ... [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 25]

This is somewhat incoherent passage, and it ends more or less as I give it, but it does give clear evidence that Tylor was purchasing objects (in this case, almanacks) in order to use them in his work.

There are also those [shell beads] of Cosinopara globularis from Les Boves near Amiens, now in the Pitt Rivers Museum. These plainly show that ornaments of strung beads and shells gave pleasure to mankind in remote ages, as they have continued to do since. In the same Museum may be seen in the necklaces of Elenchus shells stripped of theirr outer coating, which within our lifetime decorated the savage of Tasmania. [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 65]

'The first home of the string of beads for counting the repitition of prayers and other sacred formulas, appears likely to have been India, where a vast population belonging to several religions still use it as they did ages ago. My own fairly complete collection of Indian rosaries was mostly made for me [draft ends here] [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 66]

On page 67-8 there is an alternative draft of the above paragrap:

My own fairly complete collection of Indian rosaries was mostly made for me by my friend Mr Crooke, Collector of Mirzapur, and in 1893, at a meeting of the Ninth Congress of Orientalists in London ...' [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 67-8]

Both of these paragraph drafts give a clear indication that Tylor intended to use his collection of Indian rosaries directly in the chapter, but also that he had an aim when collecting and believed that he had obtained 'a fairly complete collection', i.e. somewhat on the lines of Pitt Rivers attitude to complete-able typological series. Quite how Tylor knew, other than Crooke informing him that his set was fairly complete it is unclear from this ms.

This draft ms, if it had been published, would have been much more directly associated with material culture than his other books. He gives real and direct evidence of his connection to them:

I have on my table a pretty silver one [prayer wheel]... [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 75]

I hold in my hand a silver prayer wheel from Tibet. On it is inscribed the familiar format Om Mani Padme Hum ... [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 114v][Clare Harris is attempting to match this prayer wheel with the definite PRM object, there are two candidates, she also intends publishing about this]

NB there is also a long list of rosaries heading Tylor's collection of rosaries that can presumably be matched to specific objects, Tylor himself estimated he had a collection of almost 100 [PRM Tylor ms collections, Box 5: page 114v]

The use of objects whilst he was lecturing can be illustrated with the following reports:

‘The Reader in Anthropology commenced his course of lectures on Monday last. He naturally commenced by discoursing on flint implements and their uses; but perhaps the most interesting feature in the lecture was his practical illustration of their manufacture. To see the learned Doctor working, and with some skill too, with the actual tools of a palaeolithic man was an interesting and instructive example of the proverb about extremes meeting.’ [The Oxford Magazine: Volume II no. 2, Wednesday January 30, 1884, p.20]


‘How are we to account for the difference which exists between the agricultural Pueblo Indians and wild hunting tribes, such as the Colorado Indians? It would seem from several pieces of evidence that this difference cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the hypothesis that the former has reached a higher stage of development than the latter: more probably the wild Indian is the descendant of tribes who had reached a higher state of life, but have, owing to the pressure of war or poverty, sunk in the scale of civilization.

‘At the outset of his lecture or before proceeding to the evidence for this view, Dr. Tylor gave a practical warning to the unwary anthropologist who deals too hastily with wild races in contact with civilized white men; the professor produced a typical tomahawk with which a tobacco-pipe was combined, the whole being apparently of Indian make, but a little consideration shows that, as the Indian has no iron, he could not have made the iron head, and also his genuine pipe or calumet is made either of stone or of terracotta, so that the idea of adding a bowl to a war hatchet is due solely to the inventive genius of the white trader. Again, strings of shell beads are bartered to the Indian, which can be distinguished from those of native manufacture by the evenness of the holes, which have been bored through the shells with a turning-lathe and fine drill.’[The Oxford Magazine: Volume II, no.22, Wednesday November 19, 1884, p. 410]

Documentary Sources for E.B. Tylor [List compiled by Chris Wingfield in 2002 and added to by AP]

Pitt Rivers ms collections

3 boxes of notebooks dated from c1862-1890. Contain notes taken from EBT’s wide-ranging reading. Most of the notes are direct quotes from each book or article. He does not provide annotations to them. Include excerpts from travel/exploration literature, latest anthropological writing, philosophy and physiology etc. Some notes in Greek, French, German and Spanish. Some illustrations, especially of Mexican pottery and codices. Some of these notes were drawn upon for EBT’s publications, e.g. Notebook I has numerous historical references to children raised by animals, which were clearly used in his 1863 article, ‘Wild men and beast-children’, Anthropological Review 1: 21-32. Also, contain several sets of notes taken at various museum visits, including Hunterian, Smithsonian, British Museum etc. Some rough notes of conversations held with A.W. Franks and Henry Christy, but very sketchy.

Correspondence - extensive correspondence from colleagues and supporters of the PRM worldwide. Includes letters from Boas, Fison, Hale, Dawson, Howitt etc. Many letters contain details of objects the writers are seeking on EBT’s behalf. Also, donations to the PRM. Many contain quite detailed ethnological information (especially those of Fison and Hale). Others are more clearly written by “amateur” anthropologists, colonial officials, etc. Very few letters from EBT have been copied, though there are some rough drafts of letters, e.g. concerning the purchase and transportation of the totem poles from Masset, QCI.

Photographs - large collection of photographs donated to PRM in 1917 following Tylor’s death. These were subsequently split up. Some were purchased by EBT as late as 1913. Lizzie plans using these in forthcoming project.

Charts - lifesize drawings and paintings for EBT’s lectures, c. 1885-1890. Include cave paintings, driving out devils, ideas of death after life, animism, Mexican patolli players.

Pitt Rivers Museum

820 objects donated by Lady Tylor following EBT’s death in 1917.

Numerous objects donated by EBT from 1886-1916. Some are referred to in correspondence in EBT Papers and are listed as donations from EBT, also giving collector’s name. Others are just listed as from EBT and do not give collector’s details, though they can still be identified in correspondence, allowing for the information in the correspondence to be included in catalogue records.

Correspondence within accession books and related documents files concerning artefacts donated throughout EBT’s Keepership.


1884 - 1898 Letter to EB Poulton


Myres Papers - Memories of the Pitt Rivers Museum (MS Myres 93 (192-197)).

Natural History Museum

Archives - L MSS TYL: Notebook relating to EBT’s life by Lady Tylor. The entries are brief, stating where EBT was and when, and sometimes for what purpose. Illnesses and deaths of people close to the Tylors are also noted. Most of the entries refer to the places that the Tylors travelled to each year, and how long they stayed there.

British Library

Add MS 5024 - correspondence 1859-1906 (97 items)


Galton Papers - NRA 19968 Galton. Letters to Sir Francis Galton

MS ADD 88 - NRA 14256. Correspondence with G. C. Robertson

Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Letters to Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers

American Philosophical Society

Correspondence with Franz Boas in Boas-Rukeyser Collection, 1869-1940. B/

National Anthropological Archives - Smithsonian

BAAS papers

Cambridge University Library - Charles Darwin papers

Trinity College, Cambridge - Frazer papers

British Museum Archives - probably will contain references in Christy and Franks papers.

Royal Anthropological Institute - RAI, Ethnological Society of London, Anthropological Society of London


Records of former anthropology students in Oxford. Syllabus. Exam papers etc.

University of California Tylor archive


[24] Hodgen sites ‘Researches into the Early History of Mankind..’ and ‘Primitive Culture..’

[25] Later in the same paper Urry says that Tylor contributed to the Admiralty Handbook as well as to Hints for travellers [Urry, 1972: 48]

[26] Later in the same paper Urry says that Tylor contributed to the Admiralty Handbook as well as to Hints for travellers [Urry, 1972: 48]

AP added to site September 2012, slightly amended March 2013

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Supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund


(c) 2012 Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford