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The following introduction was written between 2006-2009 as the introduction to a database, prepared by Peter, giving biographical data about all the members of the Anthropological Institute. Due to technical reasons in 2014 it was discovered that it was no longer possible to continue to give web access to the database via the 'Other Within' website. An opportunity was taken to update the information within the database. The revised database, prepared by Peter Rivière and Alison Petch, is attached in tabular form.

Short biographies of the Fellows of the Anthropological Institute in 1900-1901

Peter Rivière ('Other Within' research associate)

As part of the Pitt Rivers Museum’s Other Within project it was thought valuable to have a look at the Fellowship of the Royal Anthropological Institute [RAI] to see how it was constituted and to what extent its Fellows were associated with the Pitt Rivers Museum collections, in particular the English objects. Rather than undertake a general survey of the RAI Fellowship it was decided to concentrate on a single year and 1900 was selected, when it was still the plain Anthropological Institute. The total number of Ordinary Fellows in that year was 297, of whom 76 were collectors, owners or donors of objects to the Pitt Rivers, of whom, in turn, 22 are associated with English objects. There are only two of these 22 who are solely connected with English objects.

The year 1900-1 was chosen for various reasons. First, a full list of the fellowship was published in The Journal of the Anthropological Institute (30: 3-12) that year, although the database is restricted to Ordinary Fellows, excluding Honorary and Corresponding Fellows. Second, sufficient time had elapsed since the merger of the Anthropological Society of London and the Ethnological Society of London for the ructions relating to that event mainly to have been forgotten and the fellowship to have settled down. Third, the Pitt Rivers Museum, founded in 1884, had by that year become a firmly established and recognized institution. Fourth, it was just prior to anthropology becoming a university subject and the increasing professionalization that followed on from that – in other words, it was still was what Gosden, Larson and Petch have called a ‘participatory anthropology’, a subject of interested amateurs.

There are certain points about the database of which any user should be made aware. First, the amount of information about individuals is highly variable in quantity and quality. In some cases, nothing other than the information contained in the List of Fellows has been discovered, that is to say; name, initials and address, and in one case not even the last. In other cases, there is far more information available than can be fitted into the database, the Fellow in question being the subject of one or more biographies, or even an autobiographer. Second, there is no doubt that additional information is likely to emerge on many of the individuals which will be added to the database as it becomes available. For example, it is almost certain that more people were connected to the British Association of the Advancement of Science than the database records. The reason for this was that it was so normal for anyone in or on the periphery of the scientific world to attend its annual meetings that many did not bother to record the fact in what is now Who was who.

There is also huge variation in the involvement by individual Fellows with the Institute. Some were Fellows for a very short time, a few for only one or two years; others became Life Fellows but never seemed to have played any active part in the Institute; others, and not merely those well known in anthropological circles, like Tylor and Balfour, were deeply engaged, attending monthly meetings and publishing in its journals. There is no necessary fit between that last class of Fellows and the amount we know about them. The RAI has been very inconsistent in its publication of obituaries and the deaths of many who were much involved with it have passed with none or the barest of record.

 Table showing all AI Fellows 1900.

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Supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund


(c) 2012 Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford