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E.B. Poulton Mss.

Henry Balfour to Poulton, 15 July 1890

‘I think that I could manage a book upon the ‘growth’ or ‘Evolution’ of the Material Arts of Mankind which could take the form of essays upon the development of various arts, viz. warfare weapons, navigation, agriculture, fire-making, decorative art etc.

‘I think it would be better to keep to essay form in order not to make the book appear to be posing as a text book in any way, a text book is not really wanted as Tylor + Paschel have both produced good ones which cover the ground well. Also I think that many people will read a book of essays rather than take up a formal text book. I can give plenty of illustrations I fancy. I cannot I am afraid undertake to get the book finished by any given time, but as soon as I get back I will commence + must hope not to be too much interrupted, though my really spare time is always limited. When will the other vols of the series be issued; is it required that they shall all appear about the same time.’ Terms satisfactory, title difficult until written, suggests ‘Evolution in the Material Arts of Mankind’. Returning to Oxford (from Aberdeenshire) soon after the beginning of September

[Transcribed by Frances Larson, Relational Museum project]

1885/1 History of OUMNH 1874-1902 Box 2, HW Acland correspondence

‘Private for the Committee on Laboratories’ to the President of Magdalen, draft

p.5 ‘A second illustration of want of sufficient attention to the future is to be found in the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Pitt Rivers Collection was given on condition of an adequate and suitable museum being erected. When the time came for acting on this, Dr. Rolleston being had been removed from us. The details came by agreement under his successor Mr Moseley who became Professor of Anatomy, Dr Rolleston’s subject being divided between two Professors of Anatomy and Physiology. Mr Moseley had therefore the chief part in making the arrangements – I was on the committee with him. We would not agree in the matter of breaking the level of the two courts. For cheapness sake only we were to descend several steps, injurious in several ways. Had the level been kept a large basement would have been made, with extension space for storeroom with basements on the north and south sides suitable for laboratories [or workrooms – added to later draft]. It has been often regretted that in the great court this had not been done. But then the Architects felt it to be impossible for certain reasons in that court to do this. The cost of the few feet of wall on three sides of the Pitt Rivers was not worth discussing in so large an issue for the future.


12 March [1887 written on letter by later hand, Balfour wrote letter]

My dear Sir Henry,

Pray dismiss entirely from your mind the thought that I have felt in any way hurt or annoyed during the meeting yesterday. Believe me it is not so. I have thoroughly appreciated the kindness + consideration, which I have learnt always to expect from you, + which you shewed in taking the trouble to have me invited to the meeting. I think that I have some right, as you too have though, to represent the department which for the last few years has been practically entirely under my care, where any question involving the transference of collections is discussed. I have taken trouble to gain all the experience that I can as to practical museum managements, + though my voice may carry but little weight, such experience is to a certain extent of value. The legality or otherwise of may vote on that occasion I leave to others better qualified to discuss, + I am perfectly satisfied that with you presiding the course taken will be the right one. I sympathise with you in the pain you have felt at the discussion, + know how deeply you hold the Museum interests at heart, both for the subjects + for those working on them. I cannot help thinking that the outcome of the acceptance of such a motion as that of Thomson’s will tend rather to increase than diminish the feeling of good fellowship, and at the same time give stimulus to true scientific work. I hope my ideas do not strike you as revolutionary if so pray pardon me. Your advice on all subjects is of great value to me, + as you know I like to think that I can appeal to you for it. I shall have a hard struggle to have my position recognized, + with my present appointment ceasing with the year, I am specially anxious now to improve my position with regard to the Anthropological department, quite as much from regard to the collection at which I have worked, as my own personal interests. That the educational value of the collection can be greatly enhanced I have no doubt, and it is with a view to develop the latent wealth of such a collection that I claim the necessity of a working curator for the department. The whole of a man’s time + interest are required, as I know from having started at the very beginning, + my fears for the future of the collection are well founded, if some step of this kind is not undertaken by the University. The outside public fully recognize the value, + the people of other countries are expecting much of the outcome to science of General Pitt Rivers’ labours, which may influence the future as well as the present, if allowed to be properly developed. You will be tired of reading this + I will spare you more.

I will only express my great approval + appreciation of the kindly course which you took with regard to me yesterday afternoon.’


Henry Acland  to Dean of Christ Church, 16 June 1889

Writing about circumstances of Natural History collections, so far as they progress study in Oxford. Excludes mineralogy, includes zoology, comparative and human anatomy, ethnology and geology. Anatomical collections belong in large part to Christ Church, although it has been greatly increased since being in the Museum. Re Anatomy: ‘It is necessary to remember that this collection was based on the complete philosophical conception of John Hunter i.e. the investigation and illustration of the Laws of Life in all organized beings – existing or extinct – vegetable or animal, in respect of their structure, functions, development, and death.

‘It is therefore necessarily the centre from which the other departments branch – viz the study of extinct flora and fauna, in Palaeontology; with their relation to evolution and classification, in zoology and botany, and the wide range of Comparative + Human Anatomy, with Ethnology.

‘The vast array of Fact + Law exhibited in series by each collection is therefore important for the Human Anatomist, the Physiologist, + the Geologist.

‘It would therefore be fatal to the study of the organic world in Oxford should the collection be divided.’ At the same time, profs of human anatomy, physiology and geology, should have access to specimens in their lecture rooms for teaching. ‘A distinction must be drawn between the study of the collections in situ and the removal of individual preparations from the Court. Those in the court should be accessible to all alike – those borrowed can only be safely moved + replaced under the responsibility of one person.’

[This should be the Linacre Professor, or a special assistant for the purpose]


1895/3, 22 June 1895, T. Raleigh to Henry Acland

‘I have explained to Tylor that those who voted against him on Tuesday were not all disbelievers in Anthropology, and that we hope with his assistance to give the subject its due place at the Museum and elsewhere.’

[This was when Tylor was hoping to establish anthropology as an honours subject?]


II 2 Maintenance Grant and Administration Fund 1898-1907 [PRM mentioned frequently AS ANOTHER DEPARTMENT OF OUMNH. It is clear that for entire period PRM is accounted for as part of OUMNH. Clear that everything admistratively is done thro OUMNH for PRM including ordering and paying for napthalene, heating cleaning etc., right up to 1907

II 4 Good plan of PRM and OUMNH as at 1893

II 5 Printed list of use of all rooms including PRM

[?Transcribed by Frances Larson and AP during Relational Museum project]

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