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Bodleian Library Special collections Acland papers Box d.92

Letters related to the Honours School for Anthropology proposal of 1882

d.92 fols 38-39

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Science Scheme / Sir Henry Acland HWA to [arrow pointing to Sir John]

Board of Natural Science Studies


May 2 1882

My dear Sir John [1]

You will receive ‘officially’ a request from the Board of Natural Science here, to give as your opinion as to the proposal to have an honours Examination in Anthropology.

The matter arises in this way.

In consequence of Rolleston’s death it seems  necessary to carry out at once what had long been desired by him, the division of his Biological Teaching. We are therefore to have as soon as we can a chair of Physiology, as well as Moseley’s chair of Morphology.

In considering with Mr Moseley the details that follow from this, and in drawing up Schedules for the guidance of students & Examiners, it seemed unreasonable in the present condition of knowledge not to encourage students to a scientific study of Man, as such.

We have therefore prepared and now sent to you a scheme for such study. This Anthropology you will not will be one of 5 subjects which a man may take in for honours, after having passed a preliminary (scientific) examination, in Physics, Chemistry and Physiology in every case—viz. Morphology (Animal), Physiology, Botany Geology, Anthropology.

I trouble you with this note because you have not seen the previous schedules, of which the Anthropology referred to you, is one in the Series.

It will strike any reflecting person that in working this Schedule (indeed any of them) it will be easy to make the attainments very superficial, or almost ‘unattainable,’ according to the custom established, the means of study & instruction, or the will of the Examiner.

Your opinion I need not, perhaps ought not to say, will be most valuable to us

I am

My dear Sir John

Very faithfully yours

(signed) Hy W. Acland

You will receive the Anthropology “officially” I enclose these for your general information in the matter.


[1] It is not clear who Sir John is.


d.92 47-48

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Science to B. Carpenter

58 Regents Park Road

London, N.W.

May 5/ 82

Dear Sir

I am very glad to learn that the claims of Anthropology are being considered by your Board, as a subject for the Honour School; and venture to offer (as requested) a few remarks on the Schedule suggested by Prof. Moseley.

It seems to me more logical that “Man’s Place in Nature” should be [insert] take [end insert] the first place in the Programme. This would involve the transfer of the Section IV to the commencement; and I should suggest the characters by which the Anthropomorpha are distinguished from other Mammalia; whilst I should propose to supplement the consideration of Man, by that of his distinctive psychical peculiarities,--notably, his possession of a verbal language, and the capacity for progress to which that possession calls into activity.

Sections I and II would then become II and III. I have no suggestion to make in regard to their subjects, except that the last sentence of the Paragraph II headed II—‘estimation of the weight” &c—seems to me out of place. I should transfer it to the latter part of the following section, in which the subjects of language, manners & customs &c, are considered.

In Section III (to become IV) it seems to me that a more full consideration of the subject of Languages is required. Surely it is as essential for an Anthropologist to be acquainted with the leading characteristics of the great Families of Languages, as with a knowledge of the physical characters of the Races. And I should suggest that the assistance of a Philologist (such, for example, as Prof’r Sayce) should be sought in the development of this part of the Programme,--which, in other respects, seems to me very complete.

I remain, Dear Sir,

Yours sincerely

William B Carpenter

W.H. Jackson Esq.


d.92 fols 60-61

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Science Sir Wm Flower

Royal College of Surgeons of England

Lincoln Inn Fields


5th day of May 1882

My dear Mr Jackson

I am extremely pleased to see that Anthropology is to be taken as a subject for the Honour School in Natural Science, and I think that no one can look over the schedule that you have sent me without being convinced of its great value as a mark of culture which ought to be fully recognised in the University.

I have completely examined the Schedule (F) and find it so clear and comprehensive that there seems nothing to change or suggest. I have however ventured to make a few trifling verbal modifications, which may or may not be adopted as thought fit. Believe me

Yours truly

W.H. Flower

P.S. I must apologise for not having replied to a previous communication from the Board—but it was on a subject on which I did not feel myself particularly competent to give an opinion, and being pre…ly occupied at the time it arrived with other matters, I laid it aside for consideration, and before taking it up again find it was too late.


d.92 fols 68-69

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Science Prof Huxley

March 11 1882

My dear Dr Acland

I ought to have written to you before this time about the Natural Science Schools Scheme—but it has escaped my memory.

Speaking generally the scheme appears to me to be a very good one. In fact I am bound to say so since it follows very closely the lines of the plan which I suggested to the University of London a good many years ago—which was adopted by that University & which I believe has been found to work very well.

As to details, I think some revision is needed—but I gathered from our conversation that you wished to have my opinion simply on the principles of the scheme.

I am

Yours very faithfully

… Huxley

Dr Acland Esq


d.92 fols 72

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Science HG Liddell Too great knowledge required

Ch. Ch. Oxon

May 2/ 82

My dear A.

I am really quite unable to give my opinion. How many volumes must be read to receive adequate knowledge in this subject prepared for Exam. in Sched. F? If no many Lectures will give such knowledge?

The questions indicate the tendency in my opinion viz. that too great a mass of knowledge is to be required. But whether this is really so, depends on the mode & the facility with which, under present circumstances, such knowledge can be gained. And even if the mass is too great, I am quite at a loss to suggest where & how to draw a line.

Yours ever



d.92 fols 75-76

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Science Anthropology Genl Pitt Rivers

4 Grosvenor Gardens S.W.

May 21 ‘82

My dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for your letter. It will add much to the pleasure of presenting my museum to Oxford that you need the Scientific members of the University should be so favourable to its going there, and I  hope much that it may be brought about. I do not know what the proposals of the committee may be. Professor Westwood’s proposal to me did not involve? the suppression of my name in connection with the collection and I thought that arrangement satisfactory. Of course after devoting exactly 30 years to it I look upon it very much in the light of a child. It commenced in 1852 with a series showing the development of small arms in which I was officially engaged. At that time we had not the advantage of Darwin’s writings the Christy collection was in embryo like my own and was commencing on a different plan and evolution which is in everybody’s mouth now was almost unheard of then.

I believe I may say that there was at that time no museum arranged after the system of shewing the development of ideas Dr Meyer tells me that he has arranged the Dresden museum in this order after seeing mine and I believe some others have done the same I am afraid the incorporation of the Ashmolean Museum with mine may spoil it. Valuable as the objects in that museum are it has a different object & had better be kept apart, However we shall see what the committee say. Meanwhile I beg to thank you for your very kind letter and wish you every success in your Endeavours to promote Anthropology in Oxford. Professor Rolleston often talked to me about it and we can’t but wish that he had lived to carry it out.

Yours faithfully

A. Pitt Rivers


d. 92 fols 79-90

4 Grosvenor Gardens


10 May ‘82


I am much obliged to you for sending me the proposed schedules of study for Honours in Anthropology. I have read them carefully and think them admirable as far as they go. I see nothing I should be inclined to omit.

As you invite me to criticise them freely, I venture to offer a few suggestions more in the direction of nomenclature, arrangement, and details of study, than with a view of altering the excellent programme which has [insert] been [end insert] drawn up.

In regard to nomenclature it appears to me desirable to employ as far as possible the terms which have come into use for designating the several sections and subjects included under the general head of Anthropology. General Anthropologists will no doubt become more numerous when the present programme is carried out. Meanwhile, Anthropology groups itself naturally under various classes of subjects and workers for which, terms have [Page 2] been employed, and which, in Education especially, it seems necessary to make use of, both for the sake of brevity, and in recognition of the value of specialists in the division of labour, which so comprehensive a science demands.

Physical Anthropology – all that is included under Section I of the schedule appears to come under the head of ‘Physical Anthropology’ – which includes human and comparative physiology, human and comparative osteology, Zoology of anthropoids, anthropometry including craniometry, for which latter it seems hardly necessary to have a special division. But anthropometry divides itself into two branches, viz measurements of the skeleton, and measurements of the living body. M. Topinard has lately affirmed and it has been accepted by Professor Flower; and other Physical Anthropologists that the measurements of the living body (the most important because the most easily obtained) cannot be reduced to uniformity with those of bones, and although they should approach as closely as possible, distinct measurements are necessary [Page 3] for the several limbs, that is to say, the the measurement of the ulna cannot be compared to the measurement of the living forearm, or the humerus with those [insert] that [end insert] of the living arm, and as this distinction seems likely to be permanent, a distinct set of measurements should be established at once in any scheme of anthropological study.

I venture also to think that Schedule [insert] Section [end insert] IV of the schedule might be brought under Physical Anthropology as a sub-section of Section I, and that if possible, some other term than Morphology of the Anthropomorpha should be applied to it. The term Anthropomorpha, strictly correct no doubt, is liable to the be mistaken by the general public for Anthropomorphism and Anthropomorphite which have got into the Dictionary as implying the human form and personality of the Deity. If some other term equally correct, such as perhaps Zoology of the Man [Page 4] [insert] and the [end insert] Anthropoids [insert] apes [end insert] could be used it might avoid confusion. Under this head might also be included the theory of instinct in men and animals, reflex action, the hereditary transmission of peculiarities, physical and mental ([insert] vide [end insert] Galton), the tendency of acquired functions to become congenital in the races, the influence of food, climate, and other external causes on the development of and survival of physical peculiarities, and the relative persistence of physical peculiarities such as colour bony structure, stature, functions &c (see Huxley). I would suggest that deformations of the body, skull &c, being customs rather than peculiar physical peculiarities should be transferred to Sociology.

In regard to Broca’s tables of colour, skin and hair. It seems desirable that these tints, being established, though not perhaps the best, should be adhered to, but the patches are too small for practical purposes. The apparent colour of the hair of any given head varies so much by light and shade that the [Page 5] same head includes the tints of several patches according as the latter may be held. By making the patches larger, say 2 inches by 4, the comparison can be made out at such a distance that shades of the head are merged into one.

At present The schedule appears to recognize the confusion which at present exists in Anthropometry consequent on the employment of different measurements by physical anthropologists. Many of these differences are purely arbitrary arbitrary and personal. Strenuous efforts are being made to bring about uniformity, and when this is accomplished, of which there are some signs [insert] hopes [end insert], it will no longer be necessary to impose [insert] inflict [end insert] upon the student a comparison of the merits of those systems which have been abandoned. By this means the study of this branch of the subject will be greatly simplified.

Ethnology – all that is included under Section II of the schedule, may now be properly classed under the term Ethnology. Ethnology has in past times been taken to embrace a [Page 6] wider range, but, since the universal acceptance of the term word Anthropology for the whole science, Ethnology has taken a [insert] the [end insert] subordinate place, which etymology prescribes for it, viz the study of race. Might these [insert] there [end insert] not be included under this head in addition to the subjects mentioned in the schedule? Evidence of migrations, means of locomotion and communication, drifting of nomads (see Howorth) and traditions of wanderers, migrations consequent on changes of climate, geographical changes &c. 

In classifying the papers of the Anthropological Institute as president I have thought it important to distinguish under separate headings as sub-sections of Ethnology 1. Deductive [insert] Descriptive [end insert] Ethnology viz. the accounts given of travellers and original observers, and 2. Deductive Ethnology, viz the arguments for racial affinities derived from general sources. The reason for this distinction seems to be that [insert] this [end insert]. It often happens that travellers or residents in barborous [sic] lands have paid but little attention to ethnological study [insert] studies [end insert] [insert] during [end insert] their residence, and their time having been chiefly occupied engaged in business matters, [Page 7] but on returning home they are asked to write a paper on the races they have visited. They then proceed to cull their material from the books of travel and the whole goes down as original evidence with the authority of the writer. By this means error is propagated. 

Under the head of descriptive ethnology the writer is held responsible for his facts, whilst under deductive ethnology, he is at liberty to generalize from other sources. Whether this distinction is desirable or practicable in an educational course must be left to the Committee. [insert] A knowledge of the Notes and Queries on Anthropology published by the British Association might perhaps be included under the head of Descriptive Ethnology. [end insert]
The classification and terms employed for designating the various principal races of mankind should be well considered and arranged according to their affinities.

Culture … Under the section “culture” should be included as sub-sections 1. Philology, 2. Sociology, 3. Arts and appliances. The term Sociology has sometimes been used in a wider sense to include the arts, but in my judgment it ought to be confined to {Page 8] customs, ceremonies, laws, instruments institutions, myths, folk-lore, marriage customs, burial customs, religions, singing, dancing, land tenure, property, political institutions, relationships, study of names of people and places, animism, pathology, commerce, barter, cannibalism, initiatory ceremonies, use of stimulants, parasites of man, all that relates to the organisation of mankind in societies, and their intercourse with one another. The distinction between Sociology and the arts is broad enough in most cases but must be arbitrary in others, the latter including including the history and development of tools, ships, pottery, substitutes for pottery, basket making, weaving, clothing, games, personal ornament, ornamentation, drawing and sculpture, painting, writing, agriculture and agricultural implements, hunting and hunting implements, modes of warfare and weapons of war, music and musical instruments, wheel carriages and modes of conveyance, bridges, roads, food &c. All those emanations of the human mind which take a material form and can be studied in by [Page 9] means of objects arranged in Museums.

I would suggest that a practical knowledge of primitive arts such as smelting, casting, tanning, pottery &c, should be inculcated under this head and that the whole should be studied with the view of tracing the succession of ideas by which the mind has been led on from simple to complex conceptions.

Archaeology – this branch I think ought to form a section apart, as it relates exclusively to early times and otherwise overlaps or embraces other sections such as arts and appliances, sociology, physical anthropology. Although Prehistoric Archaeology chiefly occupies the attention of anthropologists, it should not be strictly confined to that branch but should also include, non-historic, Roman, and Mediaeval archaeology. I should define it as the method of inquiring [insert] into [end insert] and determining the age or place in sequence of the monuments of antiquity in their relation to the development of culture. Either under this head or under [Page 10] or under Arts should be included – a practical knowledge of the manufacture of flint implements, flaking, secondary chipping, boring holes, the study of natural fractures caused by frost and fire, the denudation of earthworks and silting, [insert] knowledge of British, Roman, Saxon and Danish coins, [end insert] growth of vegetable soil, formation of stalactite and stalagmite. The student should be able to identify the various kinds of wood microscopically, as well as ores, slag, &c. and he should understand the patination of antiquities and be able to identify forgeries both in stone and metal. Also he should have a practical knowledge of the mode of preserving bone in various stages of decomposition, as well as iron, and soft wet wooden objects so as to prevent their cracking in the process of drying. He should be instructed in the best method and materials for writing on stone and labelling &c, and of preserving and repairing pottery, and be able to identify the materials of which ancient pottery is comprised, mica, quartz, shell &c. A general knowledge of [Page 11] surveying may not be necessary but the student should be able to make a plan of a piece of ground, take levels, contouring, and the shading of hills, without which the descriptions of prehistoric investigations are simply unintelligible. [insert] a knowledge of the proper method of opening tumuli and earthworks should be taught. [end insert] He should also have a knowledge of freehand and geometrical drawing and taking casts, and be able to use the camera lucida.

In regard to the preliminary studies necessary for the student in Anthropology. I may be mention [insert] be mistaken [end insert] but I do not perceive that Geology is mentioned. The student, however, before commencing Anthropological studies should be acquainted with all that part of the subject which is included in Lyell’s Antiquity of Man. Osteology is, of course of the greatest assistance [insert] importance [end insert] and a knowledge of recent shells both freshwater and marine. 

I trust these observations may not be considered too long. No doubt there are many important points which I have omitted. I append hereto a table of the various sections and sub-sections of anthropological science according to my view of the matter. 

(Signed) A. Pitt Rivers Maj Genl: (11) [sic]

[There is a flow chart on the final page, (presumably written and) signed 'A. Pitt Rivers', with ‘Anthropology’ at the top, then divided into sections, this is an attempt to show the hierarchy but the original should be consulted if accuracy is required: 

Physical Anthropology - Human and Comparative Physiology - Human and Comparative Anatomy - Anthropometry { Measurements of the skeleton { Measurements of the living body - Zoology of Man and the Anthropoid Apes

 Ethnology - Descriptive Ethnology - Deductive Ethnology 

Culture Philology 

Arts and Appliances 

Archaeology - Practical Course - Pre-Historic and Non-Historic Archaeology - Roman and Mediaeval Archaeology']

W. Hatchett Jackson Esq

Secretary, Board of Natural Science Studies, Oxford.


d.92 fols 98-99

[Handwritten on top] Oxford Nat Sciences schedules Prof Sayce

Queens College


May 5th 82

Dear Dr Acland

Many thanks for the sight of the enclosed Schedule put forward by the Board of Natural Science Studies. The inclusion of Anthropology in it is most welcome to me; I have always wondered that the science of man, in wh. all the other sciences ought to find their completion, has been so totally ignored in the Oxford Schools.

The statement of objects is so full & accurate that the only criticisms I can offer upon it are confined to very small points. In the list of races enumerated under Section II, I do not know why Ostiacs & Ainoo have been  coupled together. They are connected neither ethnologically nor linguistically. Linguistically Aloi-Ostiak is an Ugrian language related to Magyar, while Yenisoci [?] Ostiak is grouped with Koll. If anything is to be coupled with Aino, it ought to be Kemchadal.

Koniaks is a misprint for Konicho. The Chuhchi meant are the Asiatic Chukiki, not the American Chukchi (see “Contributions to North American Ethnology” I pp. 12-14)

[more corrections of this kind] It is impossible to deal with savage languages or collect vocabularies from savages without a knowledge of the physiology of speech. Comparative philology, again, implies an acquaintance with Greek, Latin and Sanskrit & a minute knowledge of a mass of details quite needless to an anthropologist, what the latter wants is a knowledge of the Science of Language.

Yours ever truly

A.H. Sayce

Very many thanks for the Government Grant Papers wh. I herewith return. I am sorry to see that a retrograde step is going to be made.

Transcribed by AP May 2013 [NB Letter d.92 fols 79-90 is a retranscription of something first put online on to the Other Within research project website but checked]

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