Showing posts with label Craniology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Craniology. Show all posts

Friday, May 6, 2011

Letter of the Day: May 6 (2 of 2)

Leipzig, May 6, 1885


Dear Sir [John Shaw Billings],


I am much obliged to you for the sending of the photographics (sic) of crania. The methods of photographing several heads upon the same plate with scale of measure added appears indeed to be of great interest. I have shown these plates to Dr. Emile Schmidt (formerly in Essen), whose collection, embracing 1300 nos. is to be placed in our institution.


I have myself, I am sorry to say, little time for craniological studies, as all my free time is devoted to embryology, but whenever I can help to promote craniology, I do so with pleasure. With regard to the specimens Prof. Braun (spelling?) has already written to you, I presume, that he had made for you a series of sections, ready to be forwarded, simply waiting for your directions. The sudden death of our dear president Panum has undoubtedly grieved you. He was in the position which he filled with so much conscientiousness, as if made for it and would have assisted you in the organization of the Congress in 1887, with his advice.


Very respectfully

W. His


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter of the Day: March 15

Fort Wingate N.M.

March 15th 1870


Surgeon General U.S.A.




I have the honor to enclose for Army Medical Museum Ten Photographs of Navajo Indians and one reduced copy of a sketch of one of the Mogin villages.


They are all very poorly taken and printed, but the best that can be got here, and may be of some interest as illustrating the Navajo dress, features +c.


On Feb. 11th I forwarded a small collection of crania and weapons to the Museum and sent Catalogues with Receipt of A.A.Q.M. for packages by mail on same date.


Very respectfully

Your Obedient Servant

R.S. Vickery

Asst. Surg. U.S.A.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New book on craniology collectors is out

The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America's Unburied Dead
By Ann Fabian
University Of Chicago Press (October 15, 2010)

Judging from Amazon's Look-Inside feature,while the Army Medical Museum is discussed regularly, the author did not actually use the Museum's archives, instead working from the Surgeon General's Office records in the National Archives, and correspondence transferred to the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives.

Available in the Museum's archives are Curatorial Records which cover the subject especially

OHA 13

* Curatorial Records: Incoming Correspondence (Loose), 1862-1894
* 2.5 cubic feet, 5 boxes.
* Finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, from the first two decades of the Museum's existence. The series ends when the Museum began a correspondence numbering system (see Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence). Includes letters sent to curators John Brinton, George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, John S. Billings, and Walter Reed. Most of the incoming correspondence from this period is currently missing.

OHA 15

* Curatorial Records: Letterbooks of the Curators, 1863-1910
* 8 cubic feet, 17 boxes.
* Finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Bound volumes of outgoing correspondence by curators John Brinton, George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, John S. Billings, Walter Reed, James Carroll, and F.F. Russell. See Curatorial Records: Outgoing Correspondence (Loose) for other outgoing correspondence that was not recorded in these books.

OHA 25

* Curatorial Records: Smithsonian Correspondence, 1867-1887
* .5 cubic foot, 1 box.
* Finding aid available, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Incoming correspondence, mostly from Smithsonian Secretaries Joseph Henry and Spencer Baird, relating primarily to the exchange of specimens between the Museum and the Smithsonian. George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, and John S. Billings were curators of the Museum during this time. See Museum Records: Accession Records and Curatorial Records: Letterbooks of the Curators for related correspondence.

OHA 26

* Curatorial Records: Special Correspondence, 1862-1887
* .75 cubic foot, 2 boxes.
* No finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Box 1: Correspondence relating to photography and photographic services at the Museum between 1862 and 1885. Includes correspondence of curators George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, and John S. Billings and Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes. Box 2: Correspondence relating to the craniology collection and craniometric/anthropometric measurement at the Museum between 1862 and 1887, mostly sent to curators Otis and Billings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 17

Fort Shaw, M.T.

February 17th 1868.




I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated M.D.A. Dep’t of Dakota January 22d, 1868 stating it is the wish of the Surgeon General to secure for preservation in the army medical museum specimens of Indian Crania and Indian weapons and utensils as far as they can be procured of the different Indian Tribes; and giving directions ho these specimens are to be collected and forwarded +c.


In reference to which I would respectfully state that I shall willing lend my aid as far as possible in collecting specimens from the different Indian Tribes in this Territory.


There are no Indians residing within a radius of forty or fifty miles of this Post, the Sun River country being looked upon as neutral ground. Occasional parties of Bloods, Piegans, Pend D’Oreilles, Black Feet and other Tribes on hunting or horse stealing expeditions transverse this section of country but make no delay en route and seldom visit this Post. Nevertheless I shall not fail to avail myself of any means of communication with these Tribes with a view to secure specimens.


Actg. Asst. Surgeon Hitz has been furnished with an official copy of your communication and expresses his willingness to cooperate in securing these specimens.


Very Respectfully

Your ob’t. Servant


F.L. Town

Bre’t Lieut. Col. + Surgeon, U.S.A.


Surgeon Jno. E. Summers U.S.A.

Medical Director, Dept. of Dakota

St. Paul, Minn.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 5

Cox Le
Army Agents Chary xLondon

The Curator
Dear Sir

I desire to apply to you as I am engaged on a N. Zd [New Zealand] book for any printed information or plates regarding 2 dried N.Z Heads I learn you have.

My informant by a curator of a museum out there.

This information I seek [?] is noted as
Int Bureau Ethnology No 4. 1886 Smithsonian Lw.

Should I apply there

Besides New Zealand war[es?] I have had S. African[.] I would like to know if I gave a good exchange in Zulus Lc Y J might offer for 2nd N. Z of yours.

I must ask you to excuse me if I trouble you[?] I shd [should] be pleased with any notice of this

I am
Yrs Respectfully

H.G. Robley

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 12

United States National Museum
Under direction of
The Smithsonian Institution
Jan. 12. 1884

My dear Dr. Shufeldt:

Prof Mason is anxious to have for his lecture this afternoon “four exaggerated specimens of head deformation” Chinook + crania, etc. We have none in this museum. There is not time left to make formal application. If you could let them come informally by bearer Prof Mason and the lecture committee will be greatly obliged. If you can’t, please don’t hesitate to say so.

Yours very truly,
G. Brown Goode

Dr. Billings sent over the specimens.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 1

Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology,
Harvard University

F.W. Putnam,
Curator of Museum
Lucien Carr,
Assistant Curator

Cambridge, Mass., Jan 1 1886

Dr. Billings

Dear Sir

I have the material for five hundred skull stands abd partly made up shall I finish them up and send them to you

Truly yours
Edw. E. Chick

PS I'm in no hurry about the miny [money] if you have not got the appropriation yet

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 4

United States Engineer Office,
Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian,
Washington, D.C., Dec. 4th, 1874

Dr Geo. Otis U.S.A.

Dear Sir

May I trespass on your kindness + ask you to have prepared for me as soon as possible a list of the Crania + skeletons collected by this expedition [ie Wheeler’s] + forwarded to the “Museum.” I would like also the diameters of the Crania + mention of any anatomical peculiarities +c. If I remember aright there was one skeleton which showed evidence of Pott’s disease. I am about preparing a Catalogue of our Crania + require the desired information for this purpose.

Very Truly yours

H.C. Yarrow

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 7

Ft. Concho, Texas
Nov. 7. 76.

My dear Sir-

I deferred replying to yr. last kind letter until some explorations, which I have undertaken, were concluded. I had discovered a number of ancient Indian graves 30 miles from Concho. I regret to say they proved to be too ancient. The remains having mostly crumbled away. After several days hard + dangerous work, I was only rewarded with a few fragmentary specimens which I will forward on a future occasion.

However, this is only one point. I have ascertained numerous localities, at no great distances, where I have little doubt of being more amply repaid for my exertions. It necessarily occupies time, having to leave the post for a day or two, which is not always feasible. Before Spring I trust you will concede I have done well. I know of several murderer’s and outlaws’ graves + propose sending some of their calvaria.

I wd [would] not have thus forwarded the Apache skeleton, but that it was so perfect. I dreaded an accident. Moreover any other method in Texas is slow and not remarkably safe.

More anon from,
Yrs. ever most truly,
J.H.T. King.

Surg. Geo. A. Otis. U.S.A.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 6

Washington, Nov. 6, 1875.

Dear Doctor

I spoke to you some time ago about making a selection of at least a single series of skulls, to represent the various tribes of aborigines of North America, for exhibition at the Centennial, either by the Army Medical Museum or by the National Museum.

I would like to hear from you to know whether you will make this display; as I consider it extremely important that the very large ethnological collection to be exhibited on that occasion, should be supplemented by the series in question.

We will gladly receive the specimens here, + be responsible for their safe return, + arrange to exhibit them under suitable circumstances, of course as the property of the Army Medical Museum.

Any other method will suit us equally well, only we hope the exhibition will be made. We are now unpacking a collection of about 300 crania from the vicinity of Santa Barbara + the adjacent islands – a most magnificent series of specimens, + we would be glad to have you come over + look at them + see whether you wish them turned over to the Army Medical Museum, + whether you have space for their accommodation. Many more are yet due.

Yours truly,
Spencer F Baird

Dr. Otis,
Army Medical Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Letter of the Day: October 7

Fort Brady, Mich.

Oct. 7th 1875.


Dear Doctor,


I enclose a letter from Dr. Mallack in the Hudson Bay Co.s’ service, + now stationed at Moose Factory, 600 miles north of this place. Through the kindness of my friend Capt. Wilson, who resides in Canada opposite Brady, the skull referred to arrived here safely – it is the crania of a full-blooded Cree Indian + in excellent condition. It is to be regretted that Dr. Mallack cd. [could] not send more. I hope yet to obtain some Esquimaux bones. Capt. Wilson who has just returned from those polar regimes, informed me that the Esqimaux in that country are in a most degraded state – incest being quite common, some even marrying their own mothers, or rather having their mothers “in loco conjugis”. The weather has been very stormy during the past month or I shd. [should] have accomplished much more. I lost nine Indian crania three weeks ago by the upsetting of a boat in a squall - + the man I had employed to secure them for me, only escaped drowning by a miracle. This was a great loss, + disheartened me for a while. However, I have many places yet to explore, + trust that I may be more successful. Never having rec’d [received] any letter from you, I fear my specimens have not that value, in yr. estimation, which I attach to them.


Yrs. very sincerely,

J.H.T. King


Surge G. A. Otis, U.S.A.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 15

Medical Purveyor’s Office, Military Division of the Pacific,

San Francisco, Cal., Sept 15, 1869




I have the honor to state that I have shipped for steamer via Isthmus 6 Cases off specimens for the Army Med’l Museum care of Genl. R.S. Satterlee Chief Med. Purveyor new York, mkd 2 to 6, Five (5) cases from Bvt. Col. J. T. Ghiselin U.S.A. Portland Oregon, + Case No. 1, a box of skulls of the aborigines of the Island of Hawaii obtained for me by Dr. Hutchinson Minister of the Interior for the Hawaiian Govt. I enclose herewith his letter relating to these specimens of skulls.


Very respy

Your Obt Servt

R. Murray

Med Purveyor


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 7

Indianapolis General,

Sep. 7th 1868.

Brvt Maj Genl. J.K. Barnes, U.S.A.

Surgeon General.




I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a  circular, headed, “Memorandum for the information of Medical Officers.”


I have in my possession the skull of a New Mexico Indian, which I know nothing of the history of, except that it was brought direct from there by Mr James B. Dunlap – deceased - + given to me.


The skull is at your service. Please inform me how I shall send it, if you wish to have it in your collectin.


Your Obt Servt,

F.S. Newcomer,

A.A. Surg, U.S.A.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 4

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 906

Sept. 4, 1895.

Mr. Nathan Joseph,
641 Clay Street,
San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir:-

Your letter of August 28th, addressed to Dr. J.S. Billings is received.

In reply I would say that the offer therein contained is respectfully declined, as the Army Medical Museum contains a certain number of the skulls described by you,-- sufficient for its purposes, and is not now in a position to enlarge in this line.

Very respectfully,

D. L. Huntington
Depty. Surg. Genl., U.S. Army,
In Charge of Museum and Library.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 29

N.D.C. Hodges, Publisher,
47 Lafayette Place.
New York, August 29th 1888.

Dr. John S. Billings.
Washington D.C.

Dear Sir,

A short time ago I returned from my trip to British Columbia. I have collected a considerable number of crania and skeletons – 86 of the former and 14 of the latter, but some parts of that province are not well represented in my collections. I should like to study the material contained in other collections, in order to ascertain the best results. Can you, please, inform me, whether and how much material there is in the Army Medical Museum from Southern Alaska (Tlinkit [sic Tlingit]), Queen Charlotte Islands and the coast of British Columbia, from Puget Sound and the Salish (Flathead) of the interior. I hope to have a chance to visit Washington this winter and trust, you will kindly permit me to examine the material in your possession. I should like to know, how much there is, in order to know, how long it would take, to go over it.

Yours very respectfully,
Dr. Franz Boas

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 28

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 906

641 Clay St. San Francisco California
Aug 28/95

Dr. Billings U.S.A.

D Sir

I have been collecting skulls for some years and have always found ready sale for them in almost any quantity to Proff Franz Boaz Clarks University Worcester Mass but unfortunately he has left and for the present is in Berlin. I have now on hand several very fine Flat Heads from Indians of this Coast and as they are not obtainable at any price except when rare chances appear of collecting them I am able to offer something rare to you and at a reasonable price which is $7.50 each. In case you would like to see one or two and are willing to pay freight both ways in case they do not suite I shall be happy to ship what I have to you on approval. I am the largest collector of Indian relics in America and your name was given to me by Dr. H.C. Yarrow.

Hoping to have the pleasure of a reply,
I am Resply
Nathan Joseph.

Washington D.C.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 15

Shelton, Hanley, Staff. [United Kingdom]

Aug. 15, 1875

My dear Sir,

A long time is elapsed since I wrote you last, above a year now, and it is still longer since I received your polite letter on the subject of the craniological collection of your museum.

I have wondered whether the Congress had authorized the publication of the second Catalogue of Crania, which you told me you had prepared. I think you told me that the only reason for the delay of this important publication arose from the indifference of the Chairman of the Committee to which this subject was referred. I trust this strange and culpable indifference has at last been overcome, and that your Catalogue is now printed, or at least on the press. Pray tell me it is.

I some time since decided to put my “Supplement” to the press, and the whole is now printed except the preface and title page. The printers, who have a great deal of very important work to do, have delayed the compile thus for a long time, but I think it will soon be ready for distribution. It will contain some short account of about 300 skeletons and skulls which have been added to my collection since my “Thesaurus” was issued. Perhaps the most noteworthy of the additions consists of a fine skeleton of a Tasmanian man. This is now an extinct race, at least there is only one woman living. This skeleton struck me as so important an acquitision that I was induced to write a short memoir upon it, which was printed in English in the Transactions of the Dutch Society of Sciences of Haarlem for 1874. I am sorry to say that I have not a copy to send you, but you will find my memoir, entitled “On the Osseology and Peculiarities of the Tasmanians, a race of man recently become extinct,” if you refer to any of the Libraries in Washington which exchange with the Haarlem Society.

(Examining?) the recent accessions to my Collection I am sorry to say that there are no skulls of the Tribes of North America.

I regret that death should have deprived the world of Profs. Agassiz and Jeffreys (sic Jeffries) Wyman, both most excellent men. The latter was a good craniologist and would have done much for our Science had he lived longer.

I remain, yours faithfully,
J. Barnard Davis

Geo A. Otis, Esq.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Letter of the Day: June 13

June 13, 1881


I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the safe reception on the 10th inst. of the section of skull in the case of a negro named Wood. It was forwarded by Surgeon G. Perin, U.S. Army Medical Director, Dept. of Dakota, and will be placed in the Surgical Section of the Army Med. Museum and numbered 7073. The specimen will be credited to you in the Museum Catalogue, and the Surgeon General requests me to thank you for this contribution to the collection.

Very respectfully,
Your obt. servt.
D. L. Huntington
Surgeon, U.S.A.

Mattocks, Dr. B.
St. Paul, Minn.
(Thru the Med. Director
Dept. of Dakota,
Fort Snelling, Minn.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Letter of the Day: May 2 - Smithsonian crania collection

Smithsonian Institution
Washington May 2, 1868

Dear Sir:

In compliance with the desire expressed by you to acquire some of the duplicate crania of the Smithsonian collection for the Army Medical Museum, I take much pleasure in transmitting the specimens mentioned in the accompanying invoice, and hope they will be found to constitute an important addition to the collection under your charge.

Very respectfully
Your obt servt

Joseph Henry
Secy, S.I.

Dr. Otis
Army Med. Mus.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 26 - the Peabody Museum sends thanks


Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology

Harvard University


F.W. Putnam,

Curator of the Museum,


Cambridge, Mass, Apr 26 1876


My dear Dr. Otis


Many thanks for your kindness in sending me the negative which arrived today. I have sent it to Mr. Edwards without unpacking + shall have a proof from him at once. If it turns out all right would you like copies for your own use? If so I will have some sent you with the compl.[iments] of our museum as I shall have a number printed on large sheets for special distribution.


We shall greatly value the large photograph you propose sending as all we have now is one of the Cabinet rig which you sent in, which I framed + hung in the museum.


You will be pleased to know that we begin our new building at once, so I hop e in time to have a chance to arrange the museum as it should be. I shall be very much pleased to see you here + and you will kindly send me word when you are to be or in advance, for as I live in Salem + and not at the museum every day I often miss parties here unless they let me know when they are coing.


I congratulate you as arriving so near to the end of your editorial work on the big volume. It was a great undertaking + I fully know the time + attention required for such work. I hope to have some good photorelief figures of the California skulls to go in my report, and I shall be very thankful to you for the use of your measurements as you propose..



Faithfully yours,

F.W. Putnam


To Dr. G.A. Otis, U.S.A.

Curator Army Medical Museum

Washington, D.C.