Spencer Papers

Papers of Sir Walter Baldwin SPENCER (1860-1929), biologist and anthropologist. See here for biography of him (external site).

The Spencer papers at the Pitt Rivers Museum comprise of eight boxes of material including correspondence, notebooks, loose notes and drawings. Full transcriptions of the letters between Gillen and Spencer have been published in John Mulvaney, Howard Morphy and Alison Petch (eds.), ''My Dear Spencer': The Letters of F.J. Gillen to Baldwin Spencer' (Melbourne, 1997); the letters between Spencer and Byrne and Cowle are published in John Mulvaney, Alison Petch and Howard Morphy (eds.), 'From the Frontier: Outback Letters to Baldwin Spencer' (St Leonards, 2000). The twenty five letters written from Paddy Cahill have been published in 'Paddy Cahill of Oenpelli', edited by John Mulvaney (2004).

Warning: Some of the pdfs of letters available by links on this webpage may include text or images referring to secret-sacred material or activities.


Related Resources

A major website, Spencer and Gillen: A journey through Aboriginal Australia, giving access to images of all the artefacts collected by Spencer and Gillen, and manuscripts associated with them

Collections of papers: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales; Museum Victoria; Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford; British Library; Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Collections of objects, photographs, etc: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Museum Victoria, South Australia Museum.

National Register of Archives: Spencer, Sir Walter Baldwin (1860-1929) Knight, Biologist and Ethnographer Link to record (external site)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Spencer, Sir (Walter) Baldwin (1860-1929), biologist and anthropologist Link to article(external site)

Spencer papers Box 1

A. Correspondence relating to the Horn Expedition to Central Australia

See here for biographical information about William Austin Horn (1841-1922), and here for information about the Horn Expedition (external sites)

17 April 1894. From Horn (in Adelaide, Australia) to Spencer, concerning the preparation of materials for the Expedition.

9 June 1894. From Horn (Australia) to Spencer, concerning the preparation of materials for the Expedition.

16 August 1894. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia), acknowledging telegram to report the return of the Expedition.

20 October 1894. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer Australia), concerning the cost of the Expedition.

15 November 1894. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia), acknowledging receipt of Expedition photographs.

24 December 1894. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia), concerning non-receipt of reports and list of specimens.

6 January 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Reports, etc. still not received. Some members of the Expedition have ignored Horn’s role.

4 February 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Anxieties about the success of the Expedition.

23 February 1895. From Spencer (Australia) to Horn (U.K.). Handwritten copy retained by Spencer, defending the non-dispatch of reports claiming “Considerable difficulties”.

10 2 April 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Horn defends himself and says Spencer has misunderstood/ details of additional expenditures wanted.

11 13 May 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Horn is satisfied with Spencer, but not with others. Details of expenditures wanted. Publishing Winnecke’s Journal not acceptable.

12 18 May 1895. From Spencer (Australia) to Horn (UK). Handwritten copy retained by Spencer. Proposed final form of the report. Suggests publish in Australia, not in the U.K.

13 29 May 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Certain items not yet received.

14 2 July 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Still short of information. Charles Winnecke’s (1856-1902) (leader of the Horn Expedition) regrettable attitude. (external site)

15 18 July 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer (Australia). Complaints about part of information.

16 17 August 1895. From Spencer to Horn. More complaints.

17 27 August 1895. From Spencer to Horn. Handwritten copy retained by Spencer. Counter-complaints. Gillen is dissatisfied.

18 2 September 1895. From F.W. Bolt to Spencer. Complaints that Horn does not write letters. Money problems.

19 17 September 1895. From F.W. Bolt to Spencer. Has received authority from Horn to advance £300.

20 20 September 1895. From Spencer to Horn. Handwritten précis of letter retained by Spencer. Asks for decisions about publication.

21 21 September 1895. From Bolt and Son (Adelaide Solicitors) to Spencer (Melbourne). Herewith cheque for £200 on behalf of Horn.

22 2 October 1895. Horn (London) to Spencer. Complaints: “The business is very unsatisfactory all round, except for your own work”.

23 17 October 1895. From F.W. Bolt to Spencer. More trouble expected. Horn has authorized advance of £800 for publication.

24 [Unknown day] October 1895. Telegram from Spencer to Horn. “Cable Number Issue Spencer”.

25 15 October 1895. Telegram from Horn to Spencer. “Five Horn”.

26 22 October 1895. From Horn to Spencer. Vigorous defence against Spencer’s “indignant letter”. Claims reasonable grounds of complaint.

27 12 November 1895. From F.W. Bolt to Spencer. Money troubles. “I am seriously concerned at Horn’s state of health”.

28 25 November 1895. From Horn (U.K.) to Spencer. More troubles, mainly concerning E.C. Stirling’s [q.v.] work.

29 30 November 1895. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn. Handwritten copy retained by Spencer. Riposte to No. 26 above.

30 17 December 1895. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn. Précis of letter retained by Spencer. Explains plans of publication.

31 23 December 1895. From F.W. Bolt to Spencer. Horn has authorized an additional £300.

32 26 December 1895. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Complaints. All except Spencer are treating him badly.

33 4 January 1896. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn. Handwritten copy retained by Spencer. Appeals to be allowed to get on.

34 27 January 1896. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn. Things are getting on. Spencer is working 10 hours a day.

35 29 January 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Criticisms of anthropology part of paper. Winnecke has behaved badly.

36 14 February 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Instructions for publication. Winnecke is to receive no credit.

37 15 February 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Criticism of geological report. More complaints.

38 18 February 1896. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn. Handwritten copy retained by Spencer. Forwarding copy of Zoology part. Illness of Spencer’s wife has caused delay.

39 26 February 1896. From Spencer (in Melbourne) to Horn. Handwritten précis retained by Spencer. Suggests pattern of distribution of collection: Australia, England, Germany, France, U.S.A. Wants to know what illustrations will be used.

40 March 1896. Envelope addressed to Spencer in Melbourne containing signed photograph of Horn.

41 3 March 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Defends himself against charge of causing “perturbation of mind” to Spencer. Criticisms.

42 11 March 1896. From Melville, Mullen, Slade (Melbourne Booksellers) to Spencer (in Melbourne). Acknowledges receipt of cable, “Horn Settled”.

43 24 March 1896. From Spencer to Horn. Handwritten précis retained by Spencer. Asks for specific information on what Horn is doing.

44 1 April 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Acknowledges Part II of book. Suggests improvements.

45 2 April 1896. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn (London). Copy of telegram (with cash receipt) reading “Circumstances urgent Send Maps Illustrations For Narrative”.

46 8 April 1896. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Horn. Troubles with Winnecke, who must be forestalled in publication. Explains upset and criticizes Horn.

47 29 May 1896. From Horn (Margate) to Spencer. “Your criticisms rather disconcerted me”.

48 15 June 1896. From Horn to Spencer. Details regarding photographs and proposed presentations.

49 6 July 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Defending himself against charge of not playing fair. Praises Spencer’s work.

50 2 September 1896. From Horn (London) to Spencer. Details of lithographs.

B Letters from Alfred William Howitt

See here for more information about Howitt and Oxford. A biography of Howitt (1830-1908) is available here and here (external sites).A transcription of some of the following letters is available here

15 July 1895. Thanking Spencer for congratulations on appointment to University of Melbourne.

20 September 1896. Making an appointment.

3 (Unknown month and day) 1897. Giving information on marriage “rules”.

12 June 1897. Further information.

12 November 1897. Regrets for missing a paper read by Spencer. Further information.

21 March 1898. Request to read Howitt’s daughter manuscript on folklore.

2 June 1898. Thanks for help over Howitt's daughter’s manuscript.

12 September 1898. Thanks for Spencer's letter of 10 September 1898 with suggestions.

13 September 1898. Regrets inability to accept invitation.

10 1 November 1898. Saying good-bye. More about daughter’s manuscript.

11 28 December 1898. Congratulations on completion of Spencer's “great work”; and thanks for compliment of dedication.

12 20 March 1899. Thanks for help over daughter’s manuscript.

13 13 April 1899. Forwarding a manuscript, Fison is ill.

14 1 May 1899. Asking for information on a “passage”.

15 18 December 1899. Reporting receipt of Australian Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] Handbook proofs.

16 10 February 1900. Thanks for help given. Siebert’s Investigations (Reverend Otto Siebert, Killalpanna Bethesda mission)(external site)

17 4 June 1900. Apologies for failure to return camera lens. He is trying to finish work and get away for a year.

18 27 June 1900. Congratulations on nomination to Royal Society. Anxiety about his own appointment.

19 7 July 1900. Siebert’s work.

20 18 July 1900. Will be glad to contribute to AAAS publishing fund. He is sending further manuscript material for criticism.

21 25 July 1900. He is sending further material for criticism.

22 3 August 1900. Thanks for trouble taken and valuable criticisms.

23 9 August 1900. Agrees to sit for his portrait. He is sending further manuscript material.

24 13 August 1900. Arranging meetings.

25 3 October 1900. Congratulations on having found funds for expedition. Information about Aboriginal words.

26 26 January 1901. Sending rough draft for criticism. “Your criticisms are of the greatest value to me”.

27 7 March 1901. Information about Aboriginal words.

28 30 August 1901. Acknowledging several Spencer letters. Congratulations on success of expedition. He is sending another chapter for criticism.

29 16 May 1902. Recounting the difficulties he faces in finishing his work.

30 15 September 1902. He sympathizes with Spencer's troubles and anxieties and tells his own. The letter is written on mourning paper.

31 24 April 1903. He is at the Grand Hotel for a rest.

32 1 June 1903. He is forwarding a letter from Ernest Crawley (1867?-1924) for Spencer's opinion.

33 2 August 1903. He thanks Spencer for condolences on death of his wife – written on mourning paper.

34 13 October 1903. Apology for not answering letters. Howitt has nearly finished his work.

35 9 November 1903. He accepts invitation to stay.

C Letters from Lorimer Fison

See here and here for biographical information about Fison (1832-1907) (external sites). A transcription of some of the letters below are available herehere and here (N.B. arranged in date order rather than te order shown here).

6 February 1899. Scholarly dispute. Fison is critical of Edward Burnett Tylor and MacGregor.

Unknown date. (possibly written in 1899 or 1900) Agreement on criticism of R.H. Mathew. Details of academic postings.

Unknown date. (internal evidence suggests this was written around April - July 1900). Fison is acknowledging a letter from Spencer.

Unknown date. Fison has had an accident and reports progress. He does not want to interrupt Spencer's work.

Unknown date. (probably dates to around October 1898, certainly before February 1899) Criticism of Tylor, who has a malady – Spencer is going to U.K.

5 March (Unknown year). (5 March 1901, only other possibility is 1907 as it was a Tuesday)

Unknown date. He is unable to accept an invitation.

10 January 1900. A provisional acceptance of an invitation to dinner.

8 September 1900. Details of a fund-raising project.

10 8 November ?1899. Details of written contributions to a publication.

11 5 December 1900. Spencer is going on an expedition.

12 18 May 1901. Reply to letter D no. 2 (see below). Fison is acknowledging a letter from Spencer about his expedition. The Duke and Duchess have been visiting Melbourne. The Bishop of Tasmania’s crazy scheme for 'uplifting' Aborigines. Details of sub-incision.

13 [unknown day] May 1902. Advice on a lecture Spencer is to give. Should nude slides be shown? Fison says “yes”, but be careful of the law.

14 23 April 1893.

15 21 April 1894.

16 30 November 1894.

17 13 June 1895.

18 13 June 1895.

19 4 December 1896.

20 4 December 1896.

21 Undated. (probably dates from middle to late 1897)

22 Undated.(probably dates from between September 1897 and April 1898)

23 Undated. (could have been written any time between 1897-1899)

24 Undated. (possibly written in 1899)

25 Undated.(probably dates from 1896 or 1897)

26 June 3 (no year). From Fison to Spencer.

D Letters to Lorimer Fison

6 August 1900. He is sending the text of a paper. Frazer is asking the authorities to give Spencer (and Gillen) leave of absence for an expedition.

26 April 1901. Spencer reports arrival at Alice Springs. He has begun work attending a sub-incision ceremony.

15 July 1901. Spencer reports progress. Six weeks of hard work. Difficult country.

30 September 1901. The expedition is moving northwards. Good work has been done. Criticism of R. H. Mathews. The expedition has justified itself.

12 November 1901. Have reached the Gulf. A cannibal tribe.

24 December 1901. Waiting for a boat to take them to Port Darwin. Interesting details of mourning ceremonies. A miserable Christmas Day.

23 August 1906. Spencer refers to “clever, but utterly misleading and unscrupulous criticism” of Howitt’s work by Andrew Lang. Lang is an “ethnologic charlatan”. He mentions Frazer’s theory of conceptional totemism.

21 November 1896.

E Letters from Alfred Cort Haddon

See here for biographical information about Haddon (1855-1940)(external site).

11 May 1900. To Mrs Spencer. Congratulations on the honour conferred on her husband. “He has accomplished one of the very best pieces of work in anthropology that has ever been done”.

23 October 1900. Congratulations and advice. Spencer must take a “kinematograph and a phonograph on his expedition”.

27 July 1901. Haddon asks where Spencer is and how he is getting on. News of Spencer is eagerly awaited. Frazer’s Golden Boughhas caused a commotion by its explanation of the crucifixion. News of Tylor and other academic colleagues.

5 May 1902. News of Spencer’s expedition is eagerly awaited. Haddon sends congratulations as president of the Anthropological Institute. “As Englishmen we are proud of you”.

4 September 1921. Haddon thanks for Spencer having sent a copy of his presidential address to the AAAS. Spencer has offered to be an Honorary Reader in Ethnology at Cambridge.

13 May 1923. Haddon is planning a visit to Australia. He offers advice on organization of ethnological studies in Australia.

F Letters from (Sir) Edward Burnett Tylor

See here for biographical information about Tylor (1832-1917)(external site). Some of the following letters are transcribed here.

17 June 1897. Tylor acknowledges a letter from Spencer. Will do best to further Spencer’s project. Is delighted that Spencer has made his mark in Anthropology.

18 December 1898. Tylor has heard Spencer’s paper which was excellent. Criticism of Frazer. Difficulties in finding a publisher for Miss Howitt’s “Australian Folk Tales”.

4 January 1899. More about Miss Howitt’s manuscript. Another dig at Frazer.

25 July 1899. More about Frazer’s change of view as a result of Spencer’s work.

G Miscellaneous Letters: 1892 - 1928

16 November 1892. From Dr C. Pichet (Geneva) to Spencer. Pichet is thanking Spencer for his letter and the dispatch of specimens and promising to send others in return.

13 June 1893. From Louis Compton Miall (1842-1921)(Yorkshire College, Leeds) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for dispatch of specimens. Can offer nothing in return.

2 July 1893. From Sydney John Hickson (Jersey)(1859-1940) to Spencer. Welcoming Spencer back to England and inviting him to Cambridge (Downing College).

8 July 1893. From A. Sedgwick (Zoological Labs, Cambridge) to Spencer. Inviting Spencer to be a contributor to a special number of the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science coming out in honor of Ray Lankester’s 25 years of editorship.

16 October 1893. From A. Klinckowstrom (?) (Stockholm) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for letter and sending copies of document asked for.

9 February 1894. From Johnson Symington (1851-1924) (Queens College of Science, South Kensington) to Spencer. Welcoming offer by Spencer to send specimen of brains of Echidna.

17 April 1894. From H. Bernard (?) (Royal College of Science, South Kensington) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer who is back in Australia for sending papers and asking for specimens.

16 May 1894. From Kchobius (?sic) (Natural History Museum, Berlin) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for letter and dispatch of specimens.

17 June 1894. From Thomas Sergeant Hall (1858-1915)(University of Melbourne) to Spencer. Reporting on progress of work at the University.

10 25 November 1894. From S.J. Hickson (Manchester) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for congratulations on Hickson’s appointment to the “Queen’s College Chair” in succession to “poor Marshall”. Asking for specimens and photographs.

11 19 December 1894. From Dr Wilhelm Michaelsen (1860-1937)(Natural History Museum, Hamburg) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for sending papers and proposing an exchange of specimens.

12 25 June 1895. From Reginald Innes Pocock (1863-1947)(British Museum [BM], Natural History) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for letter and discussing specimens.

13 13 July 1895. From Archibald Liversidge (1846-1927)(University of Sydney) to Spencer. Discussing Polynesian philological materials.

14 7 January 1896. From Frederick McCoy (1817-1899)(National Museum, Victoria) to Spencer. Accepting valuable donations of specimens on behalf of the National Museum.

15 30 January 1896. From E.C. Pelly (?) (Redhill, Surrey) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for specimens.

16 12 May 1896. From S.J. Hickson (Manchester) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for papers on the Horn Expedition. Hickson has recently married a former pupil, which has removed “a cloud of sorrow and disappointment which has shadowed my life ever since I have been here”. Reporting on progress in the Department at Manchester. Seven women are working in the laboratory for the first time.

17 22 July 1896. From Oldfield Thomas (1858-1929)(BM, Natural History) to Spencer. Thomas has received Spencer's papers on Central Australian mammals. Asks for duplicate specimens and offers help.

18 16 November 1896. From Arthur Thomson (1858-1935)(Oxford University Museum) to Spencer. Belated thanks to Spencer for an important specimen. Interesting Oxford gossip. “Balfour at the Pitt Rivers has been in very poor health for some time”.

19 25 November 1897. From W.A. Squire (Durban, Natal) to Spencer. Giving details of his life since coming to South Africa. Regretting inability to let Spencer have the full information he has asked for.

20 1 January 1898. From W. Krause (Berlin) to Spencer. Recommending a book by T. Einem, professor at Tubingen, on natural selection of butterflies. Cutting from bookseller’s catalogue enclosed.

21 19 May 1898. From J. Mathew (?Coburg) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer. for letter and papers. Mathew is writing a book on Australian languages.

22 12 December 1898. From Henry Jackson (1839-1921)(Trinity College, Cambridge) to Spencer. Asking questions about the implications of Spencer's discoveries.

23 1 January 1899. From John Lubbock (1834-1913)(Farnborough, Kent) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for his “important work on Central Australia”.

24 12 February 1899. From John Lubbock (Farnborough, Kent) to Spencer. Has now read the book at 23. Asks for information about their religious views.

25 19 April 1899. From Cecil Wilson (1860-1941)(Bishop of Melbourne) to Spencer. Thanks for copy of Spencer’s book, The Native Tribes of Central Australia.

25a 19 May 1899. From Robert Etheridge (1846-1920) to Spencer. Meagreness of local collections.

26 1 July 1899. From Edwin Sidney Hartland (1848-1927) (Gloucester) to Spencer. Sending a copy of his review of Spencer’s book.

27 7 December 1899. From C. Winnecke (Melbourne) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for a letter and inviting him to come and stay. Winnecke has taken unto himself “a little wife”.

28 28 December 1899. From Edward Bagnall Poulton (1856-1943)(Oxford University Museum) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for specimens and sending volume I of his book for the University of Melbourne – Poulton is on the Executive Committee of the National Antarctic Expedition. Gives details of finances and hopes that Professor Gregory of Melbourne University can be released to lead scientific staff and that Melbourne will make a financial contribution.

29 17 July 1900. From Halford John Mackinder (1861-1947)(Christ Church, Oxford) to Spencer. Acknowledges Spencer's letter which he received on return from Africa. Mackinder is working on the founding of a college in Reading and on starting geographical work at Oxford. Details of Oxford personalities.

30 31 March 1901. From Henry Roughton Hogg (?1850-1923) (London) to Spencer. Asking for news of Spencer. Details of work and individuals at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington.

31 31 July 1901. From Pietro Paolo Giovanni Ernesto Baracchi (1851-1926)(Observatory, Melbourne) to Spencer. Thanks Spencer for details of thermometer readings, and asks him to undertake further observations.

32 9 September 1901. From H.R. Hogg (London) to Spencer. Thanks Spencer for letter dated 18 June. Emphasises value of Spencer’s work. Details of his work on spiders. Reports the discovery of the okapi in upper Congo.

33 23 May 1902. From H.R. Hogg (London) to Spencer. Hogg has heard that Spencer is back in Melbourne. Enquires about part of the country he has travelled through. Will it do for grazing cattle?

34 7 July 1902. From Enrico Hillyer Giglioli (1845-1909)(University of Florence) to Spencer. Offering congratulations personally and on behalf of the Anthropological Society of Italy on Spencer's safe return. Refers to Spencer's “magnificent book”. Would be obliged for duplicate specimens, especially of stone implements.

35 1 March 1903. From G.C. Henderson (Auckland, New Zealand) to Spencer. Henderson thanks Spencer for a letter. Description of the Maori. News of Sir George Grey’s manuscript papers.

36 27 March 1903. From E.H. Giglioli (Florence) to Spencer. Giglioli thanks Spencer for letter and for specimens safely received. Would welcome more.

37 22 May 1903. From William Evans Hoyle (1855-1926)(Owens College, Manchester) to Spencer. Hoyle thanks Spencer for letter and specimens. Has a white-washed room, but no cases for display. Shortage of money. Chalmers Mitchell has replaced Sclater in the Zoo secretaryship.

38 28 May 1903. From Randolph Kirkpatrick (1863-1950)(BM, Natural History) to Spencer. Details of a missing specimen.

39 1 June 1903. From R. Etheridge (Australian Museum, Sydney) to Spencer. Enquiring about supposed discoveries of the late J. Archibald.

40 14 July 1903. From Arthur Smith Woodward (B.M. Natural History) to Spencer. Acknowledging a letter from Spencer and two plates.

41 10 September 1903. From R. Kirkpatrick (B.M. Natural History) to Spencer. Acknowledging a letter and parcel. The specimen discussed in No. 38 has been found.

42 21 December 1908. From A.H.S. Lucas (Gordon, New South Wales) to Spencer. Inviting Spencer to accept nomination to the presidency “of the Association” for 1911.

43 4 May 1915. From Mrs H. Cross (Blackheath, London) to Spencer. Cross thanks Spencer for taking an interest in her work. The weaknesses of R.H. Mathews’ work.

44 2 August 1916. From Arthur Smithells (1860-1939)(GHP Home Forces, Whitehall, London) to Spencer. Congratulations on Spencer's honour (a knighthood). News of mutual old friends.

45 6 November 1916. From William Walter Merry (1835-1918)(Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford) to Spencer. Inviting Spencer to become an honorary fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.

46 31 October 1921. From Arthur Keith (1866-1955)(Royal College of Surgeons, London) to Spencer. Thanking him for sending a copy of his presidential address.

47 24 November 1921. From Everard Ferdinand im Thurn (1852-1932)(East Lothian) to Spencer. Thanking him for sending a copy of his presidential address.

48 23 March 1925. From L.K. Ward (Adelaide) to Spencer. Denunciation of the Australian Aboriginal by a German scientist. Ward has been given the task of “searching for water for a million sheep”.

49 2 January 1927. From Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955)(University of Sydney) to Spencer. Thanking Spencer for letter. Discussion of orthography for Australian and other native languages.

50 30 October 1928. From Edvard Alexander Westermarck (1862-1939)(London) to Spencer. Acknowledging Spencer’s treatise on the initiation ceremonies of the Arrernte.

H Letters from Gilbert Charles Bourne

See here for biographical information about Bourne (1861-1933) (external site).

8 January 1889. Encouraging Spencer to stick it out in Melbourne and not return to the U.K. “I can understand your feeling of isolation and your want of scientific sympathy”. News of academic appointments. Manoeuvrings for the Linacre Professorship.

5 December 1893. Regretting having missed Spencer on his visit to Oxford. “I want to convince you that there is a kick left in Zoology yet”.

14 December 1893. As above. Good wishes on Spencer’s return to Australia.

I Letters from Edwin Ray Lankester

See here for biographical information about Lankester (1847-1929) (external site).

29 January ?1897. Arranging a meeting. Congratulations on Spencer’s achievements. “Your films and phonographs are absolutely thrilling”.

25 March ?1897. Advising Spencer on problems of his work in Melbourne. A great scientific library must be built up. The difficulties of scientists both in Australia and the U.K. “How gross and absurd are the interests and preoccupations of the Philistine”. Lankester says that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Acland have conspired to keep him out of Oxford. “I should not like Oxford very much, but should like a fixed life income of £900 a year”.

20 November (unknown year). Thanking Spencer for specimens. Diatribe against Oxford. “The state of things in Oxford is very bad, as bad as can be. Nearly all the colleges are dead set on running their institution as a mere classical and historical upper class of a public school”.

28 January 1898. Thanking Spencer for specimens. He has supported Spencer's application for the Royal Society fellowship.

1 January 1899. Lankester thinks Spencer was quite right not to apply for Oxford. “He would not like it”. Recommending an articulator for the Melbourne Museum.

15 October ?1899. Thanking Spencer for a letter. Congratulations on appointment as Director of the (National) Museum (of Victoria).

19 December 1916.

24 April 1917.

J Letters from (Thomas) George Bond Howes

See here for biographical information about Howes (1853-1905) (external site).

27 July 1899. Acknowledging letters from Spencer and explaining action taken on various commissions. News of academic personalities. Details of the setting up of London University and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

24 April 1901. Further developments at London University. Details of a new school-living exam. “The (Boer) war still flourishes”. 2d has been added to Income Tax, making it 1/2d in the £.

30 May 1901. Condolences on Spencer’s bereavement (death of his father). Congratulations on his achievements. More complications at London University. Troubles over the Antarctic Expedition.

29 June 1902. Letter incomplete. Congratulations on developments in Melbourne. News of Elliott Smith’s work. Zoology as an academic subject. Details of Edward VII’s Coronation preparations.

28 August 1902). News of academic colleagues. Edward VII’s success following the Coronation.

K Miscellaneous Papers

Pages of notes in Spencer’s writing.

7 September 1906. Copy of Spencer's letter to Professor Sir John Rhys (1840-1915), dealing with Aboriginal beliefs, particularly the belief that child-bearing has no connection with intercourse.

Spencer papers Box 1A

A Letters to Patrick Michael Byrnefrom Spencer

See here for biographical information about Byrne (1856-1932). Note that transcriptions of all of these letters are available here or on this site ( external site).

9 July 1895. [Letter incomplete]. Contains anecdote about Baron von Mueller’s topcoat.

6 January 1896. [Letter incomplete]. Discussed tywerrenge. Gillen is getting together lots of information about such matters. Spencer feels that Gillen’s work should be corroborated and asks for Byrne’s help. Hopes to go to Charlotte Waters in the next year.

2 March 1897. (incomplete). Has visited with Charles French (1842-1933) to Black Spur as feeling “seedy”. Discussed situation regarding Winnecke and the Horn Expedition volumes.

11 April 1899. Finished “magnum opus” but still no spare time. Reviews of work being received.

B Correspondence from Byrne to Spencer

10 September 1894. Byrne is collecting information about the shoes apparently used in revenge parties with some difficulty, because the custom has died out. He details the information he has obtained. Now shoes are only made for trade.

1a Undated.

5 October 1894. Byrne brings Spencer up to date with the “scientific mania” at Alice Springs (mainly biological). Byrne sends Spencer some animal specimens, acknowledges species names provided by Spencer and comments on dry season.

19 November 1894. Further discussion of animal specimens, drought continuing, all stock is transferred to the Finke River. He thanks Spencer for “Hudson’s book”.

16 December 1894. Byrne is sending Spencer further specimens. He discusses Hudson’s book on birds and South America and Darwin’s theories. The prospectors in the West have been unsuccessful. The weather is still dry. Byrne to be alone “with the Chinaman” at Christmas.

15 March 1895. He commiserates with Spencer’s awful journey to Oodnadatta. Palmer bitten by a snake. Discussion of Horn’s publication of record of the Expedition in the UK (“at home”) and specimens, Byrne hopes to get further specimens via two old ladies. Discussed prospectors in the West and their prospects.

18 April 1895. Discussions of specimens and Horn’s decision to publish “at home”. He gives details of Gillen’s political views. Rabbits are beginning to spread, they have reached Henbury.

24 May 1895. Discussion of specimens. Spencer’s letter to Horn should bring him to his senses. Gillen left Alice Springs on 19 May, but the weather is bad and Byrne does not expect him to arrive at Charlotte Waters in less than a fortnight’s time. Byrne promises to discuss anthropology with Gillen when he arrives. Need for a new religion now Booth and Theosophy finished.

26 June 1895. From James G. Grout of Crown Point Station. Offers Spencer moles.

26 June 1895. Discussion of Darwinism. Gillen was unwell whilst with Byrne, he will probably abandon the trip to the North and go straight to Adelaide instead. During his stay he took several good photos including some of a rain dance and initiated Byrne into the mysteries of developing etc. Discussion of specimens. Rumour says that Cowle has had a haircut and will not appear until his appearance returns to normal.

10 21 July 1895. Gillen will arrive tomorrow on way to Adelaide and Byrne will send animal specimens with him. Discussed Darwinism and specimens. [22nd] Gillen arrives with lots of totem stones and vermin. Brought letter from Crown Point regarding moles (see no. 8 above).

11 2 August 1895. Discussed specimens. “I expect Gillen is spreading Socialistic views, and sedition generally, amongst the bucolic inhabitants of Clare prior to disporting himself in your metropolis” (Melbourne).

12 6 September 1895. Discussed specimens. Spencer must be heartily sick of Horn. Gossip about Gillen, von Mueller and Cowle.

13 10 October 1895. Proofs of part of the Horn book received; plates of specimens good. It is pity that Horn did not publish all the work in Melbourne. Spencer has reported on Gillen’s trip to Melbourne. Since Gillen's return from Adelaide he has plunged into mining and has asked Byrne to join him in various speculations. Discussed specimens.

14 11 October 1895. Gillen just arrived with news. He has not given information to be included in Stirling’s contribution to Horn Expedition book. Regarding his information on 'Kurdaitcha', Spencer “can lick them into shape” and publish them if he wants (he does).

15 12 November 1895. Gillen says he has not given any information to Stirling, but Byrne doubts this. Byrne suspects that Gillen is thinking of entering parliament. Daer has died of diabetes, Giles has left for West Australia. Spencer has been sent bullroarer belonging to Pultara class.

16 20 December 1895. Byrne received notes and plates including 'Kurdaitcha' notes. He agrees with them. He gives details of a discussion with Gillen about 'Kurdaitcha' and the fact that three lizards are involved (of which he lists the species). Discussion of Horn and his attitude to the books. He has been unable to get moles. Discussion of specimens and of prospects of the goldfields. Byrne is having Christmas on his own.

17 6 February 1896. Discussion of the disputes between England and Germany, relationship between England and USA and the impact of the Boer situation in South Africa might have on West Australia (deemed favourable). Sends bullroarer to Spencer that is used in initiation ceremonies and describes use and production. He also intends getting two other beating time as others he had obtained were to rough. Discussion of lizards.

18 29 February 1896. Sorry to hear of Spencer’s “home trouble”. Byrne received another Horn volume and collected some specimens. He is still alone at Charlotte Waters and does not hear from anyone. He tells anecdote about Gillen. Byrne saw rain ceremonies. He says he will get them to go through the series of dances when Spencer is there.

19 30 April 1896. Discussion of specimens. The trouble is still continuing for Spencer with Horn and Winnecke.

20 8 June 1896. Received Horn Expedition Geology volume.

21 21 July 1896. Continued discussion of geological matters. Describes Gillen at work amongst the tribes. Byrne had visited the Anderson Range and looked at Geology.

22 4 September 1896. Byrne assisted in floating Alice Springs mining properties in Adelaide. Discussion of fossils. Gillen still at work.

23 26 March 1897. Further discussion of geology. Eylmann is a clever observer, but because he cannot take specimens he takes full notes. Wheal Fortune mine at Artlunga not been successful. Discussion of specimens.

24 11 May 1897. Discussion of Brown’s new geology map. Still no rain. Relates message from Gillen re Archilpa wanderings. Discussion of specimens.

25 1 August 1897. Discussion of politics, still no rain. Cowle arrived at Charlotte Waters looking well and is going to start photography.

26 1 July 1898. Discussion of politics and specimens. Reference to Roth’s theory on subincision and the “female operation”. Water bore work continuing and Wheal Fortune and Star of North mines under management of Gillen and Besley a “great success” (i.e. not a success at all).

27 13 August 1898. Discussion of Spencer’s overwork. Arltunga mines still continuing. Local groups are holding ceremonies brought in from Queensland. Discussion of specimens and politics. Gillen to visit in 2 or 3 weeks en route for Oodnadatta where he will leave Mrs Gillen and return to Alice Springs.

28 25 March 1899. Received copy of magnum opus. Gillen is leaving for Moonta in next month. Discussion of specimens.

29 25 July 1921. Congratulations to Spencer (on knighthood). Since Spencer last at Charlotte Waters there have been many changes and rabbits have replaced marsupials. Note: the handwriting changes in the later Byrne letters owing to the loss of his (writing) arm.

30 16 December 1925. Byrne wistful for the past and for people who have died or left. He feels that the real origins of Australian Aborigines are unknown.

C Letters from James Edge-Partington

See here for biographical information about him (external site).

9 November 1897. Thanks Spencer for notes on the album. Alfred Cort Haddon has been to Torres Straits Islands, pity he has returned there and not gone somewhere new.

8 ?July ?1898. Asks for any photos Spencer can send to illustrate his work. Regarding Gillen’s collection of ceremonial objects – does not see how British Museum can purchase them as it would be a large sum out of year’s purchasing budget, however Trustees will be grateful for any specimens that Spencer can send (presumably free of charge) and the Anthropological Institute for any photos.

11 July 1898. He thanks Spencer for sending drawing of ethnological specimens, and looking forward to Spencer and Gillen’s book being published.

15 December 1899. Congratulates Spencer on having secured Gillen’s collection for Melbourne, hopes Spencer will remember the British Museum when there are duplicate objects as there is little from central Australia in the museum, invites Spencer to stay with him on visit to England.

28 February 1902 (or 1901?). Sends first edition of Man to Spencer. Melbourne ought to be the central museum under Federated Australia. He has discovered the lowly position of ethnography in museum hierarchies.

25 July 1901. Very bad summer – 105 degrees in Cambridge Museum. Hopes Spencer is on his way home safely from expedition.

15 February 1922. Congratulates Spencer on recognition of work (knighthood), since leaving Hampshire he has devoted time to collecting Australian books and prints as ethnographic specimens have become too cumbersome for modern home. His collection went into store.

16 April [unknown year]. Would like to see Spencer's ethnographic collection, but has little chance of getting to Australia. He wishes he had never started collecting. The British Museum has taken what it wants of his collections and now he only gets small things or top quality.

D Correspondence with Walter Edmund Roth

See here for biographical information about Roth (1861-1933) (external site).

Spencer's wrapper for letters.

10 May 1890. From Roth to Spencer Roth and Spencer don’t agree on totemism. Roth suggests small group should be set up to standardize use of terms etc. Roth has private collection of 600 objects and has collected from many areas. He has arranged them on a Pitt Rivers typological basis, but can’t be seen at as good a vantage as in a museum. Now Roth was a government official all objects will go to his department. Met Haddon and party at Normanton, expedition may find links between New Guinea, Malaysia and Cape York. Discussion of anthropometric measurements, marriage systems and taboos. Roth has got lots of manuscripts to hand but can’t publish without permission of his department. He is not anxious to publish until he has worked through all of Cape York.

22 December 1897. From Roth to Spencer. Still discussing totemism. Roth sets out in detail his definition of totemism. He is hoping to spend 10 years in anthropological work in the North and will pay greater attention to anthropometric and orteological data.

19 January 1898. From Roth to Spencer. Even more detailed discussion of totemism. The impact of totem on sexual orgies and the avoidance of incest. Discussion of use of bullroarers. Useless to ask about patterns as get different answers from same person. Discussion on avenging parties, publishing and obscenity. Roth lucky to be the Protector of whole northern and central districts but this has prevented him learning the languages thoroughly. Roth got double medical qualification in London in 1891 and 1892.

8 October 1898. From Roth to Spencer. Roth is very busy doing work as protector. Discussion of names of individuals and groups, pleased with names Spencer suggested for classification.

2 March 1899. From Roth to Spencer. Roth thanks Spencer for copy of book. Roth worked at Princess Charlotte Bay in November and December and attended initiation ceremonies. Masks were photographed, he is going to learn Cape Bedford grammar and visit pearling fleet to check if native women aboard as Roth had forbidden them to be.

28 March 1899. From Roth to Spencer. Roth understands Spencer preferring Melbourne to a position at Oxford, discussion of mutual Oxford acquaintances. Roth just completed Cookstown grammar with the assistance of missionaries, the spelling is in line with the Royal Geographical Society. Asks for help in attending Association meeting in Melbourne. Going to distribute presents to coastal Aborigines who helped ship wrecked crew.

12 November 1899. From Roth to Spencer. En route for Thursday Island, he had taken notes of coastal people between Duyphen Point and Albatross Bay. Strange burial custom reported. Explains background to recent interview in Brisbane Courier, he will not publish reports (which have all been sent to Home Secretary) until he has completed ethnographic survey of whole Peninsula.

10 January 1900. From Roth to Spencer. Roth is disappointed not to go to the Association meeting. He has had malaria. Starting in March or April on new area for ethnographic work.

10 2 April 1902. From Roth to Spencer. Discussion of totemism in northern Queensland. Discussed first contacts between blacks and whites, he had discussed this with Petrie who had come out in 1837. Annoyed at way his information has been changed by Lang. He is going north with a geologist/surveyor and will look at hollowed-out dwellings on Alleyn Island.

11 26 April 1902. From Roth to Spencer. Discussed menses traditions and beliefs about intelligence. Will complete manuscript on superstition in next month and putting together notes on domestic implements and utensils.

12 6 October 1902. From Roth to Spencer. Holding enquiry on the peninsula into murder cases. Spent lot of time with Batavia and Pennefather River people. Roth will send Spencer a copy of the manuscripts as soon as completed. Also sending copy of annual report giving results of various mission inspections. Roth has different views on missionaries to Spencer. Roth believes missions are workhouses (a favourable comment). He gives his views on the future of the Aborigines. Roth’s salary has been reduced by 15%.

13 30 January 1903. Letter from Spencer to Roth. Comments on Roth’s manuscript. Spencer feels “young but looking older”, further discussions on missionaries.

14 8 February 1903. From Roth to Spencer. Discussion of Oxford mutual acquaintances and a blackguard who may have stolen someone’s work. Roth to send advance copies of Bulletin to Spencer and Tylor.

15 3 January 1903?. From Roth to Spencer. Asks Spencer to check through proofs, which Roth will send within two days.

E Miscellaneous letters from Marshall, Moseley, Hartog, Keel, Ross, Besley, Rivers, Winnecke, Crawley, Stott, Kempe, Marett.

17 August 1880. From Alfred Marshall(1842-1924)(St Johns College, Cambridge) to Spencer. Congratulated Spencer on success, argues benefits of Cambridge science facilities over Oxford.

23 October 1880. From Henry Nottidge Moseley (1844-1891)(University of London) to Spencer. Need to adhere to regulations to hold Exhibition and asks Spencer to renounce his.

13 November 1882. From Philip Joseph Hartog (1864-1947)(Owens College Manchester) to Spencer. Name submitted for Professor of Natural History, Cork, Ireland, asks Spencer to relieve him as soon as possible.

16 November 1882. From Marshall (as letter 1) to Spencer. Pleased to hear Spencer could relieve Hartog.

20 November 1882. From Hartog (as letter 3) to Spencer. Details of relief work.

15 December 1893. From Keel (Powell Creek, Australia) to Spencer. Thanks for letter and book sent to him by Spencer.

28 April 1893. From Keel to Spencer (as above) news of Gillen.

13 September 1893. From Keel to Spencer (as above).

10 September 1898. From Ross (Crown Point, Australia) to Spencer. Writes about 10 moles sent by parcel post and thanks Spencer for case of fruit.

10 15 March 1900. From R.J. (Dick) Besley to Spencer. Sending animals bottled at Barrow Creek, offers to collect information, place very dull now that Gillen’s family has left, found tree graves of dogs. Large number of people died of whooping cough and flu.

11 8 July 1900. From Ross (Oodnadatta, Australia) to Spencer. Accepts Spencer's offer of £20 for moles. Bad drought.

12 3 December 1900. From William Halse Rivers Rivers (1864-1922)(St John’s College, Cambridge) to Spencer. Haddon asked him to write in connection with Spencer's planned expedition and the statistical methods developed in the Torres Straits expedition and the perception of colour tests. Asks if Eylmann has published any work as interested in his methods.

12a 18 December 1900. From Charles Winnecke (Adelaide) to Spencer. Spencer had asked Winnecke if there were any localities worth visiting (Winnecke suggests two, Buchanon River and Sandover northeast of Alice Springs). Possiblity of Winnecke having found in that area the past traces of lost explorer Leichardt. Wishes Gillen and Spencer every success with the expedition.

12b 21 December 1902. From (Alfred) Ernest Crawley to Spencer. Asks for information on aspects of Spencer and Gillen's published work.

13 2 March 1903. From Campbell to Spencer. [NB this is a letter which was initially sent to Gillen (see Gillen letter no. 164) which he sent on to Spencer] Seeks further information about dancing boards as he wishes to publish details. Urged Protector to form refuges with medical advice for blacks. Seeks information about jobs of this type in South Australia.

14 16 March 1903. From Robert Stott (1858-1928)(Burrundie) to Spencer. News of Gillen, remembers few months writer spent with Gillen and Spencer in Borroloola. Tells news of other mutual acquaintances, he has got married and had a baby.

15 2 April 1903. From Crawley to Spencer (as letter no. 12b) asks for further information.

16 2 November 1903. From Edward Challis Kempe to Spencer. News of Gillen, he has decided to keep his partnership, his hard life has taken toll with his life.

17 22 April 1914. From Spencer to Robert Ranulph Marett (1866-1943). Still not finished distribution map of Australian tribes. Hoping to get government grant (for work associated with publishing).

18 24 June 1927. From Spencer (U.K.) to Marett. News of mutual friends. Spencer unable to come as invited, currently proofreading for Macmillans.

19 Spencer's wrapper for letters.

F Letters from (Sir) Edward Charles Stirling

See here for biographical information about Stirling (1848-1919) (external site).

Spencer's cover for letters from Stirling

8 May 1902. A.H.C. Zeitz to be sent to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney to see museum displays. News of Gillen.

25 July 1902. Stirling tells Spencer about Gillen’s lecture which was successful. Stirling will do all he can for Ada Mary Lambert (1872-1948) (one of Spencer‘s students). Zeitz is not able to visit other colonies at present due to funding difficulties in museum. Stirling hopes to be in Melbourne soon and he has been ill. Stirling will let Spencer know Zeitz’s plans.

5 November 1902. Zeitz will be in Melbourne on 18th. Mount Lofty (Stirling’s home) good at this time of year. Miss Lambert visited Stirling last night, he took the chair at her lecture which was too long. Seen references to Melbourne University finances, funding of Adelaide Museum cut, all salaries reduced by 20%.

26 June 1903. Sending case containing casts with stands and list of specimens.

6 October 1903. Stirling thanks Spencer for seeds sent which he has planted. Asks for letter from Olsen-Leffer back as he will have to reply to it.

G Letters from James Field

30 January 1896. (Alice Springs) Field has not succeeded in getting a mouse as requested by Spencer. Discussion of specimens. News of Gillen and Cowle. Everyone is sick of Gillen’s anthropological work.

29 January 1901. (Private Hospital, Adelaide) Field hopes to be discharged in a week’s time. He hopes to see Spencer in Adelaide and at Tennants Creek. Unlikely to get any animals, because of drought. He has seen Gillen, and got a lot of eggs for Keartland.

16 February 1902. [date uncertain] Field thanked Spencer for news of Borroloola. New steamer expected in a week so Spencer will probably be released from Borroloola by the end of the month. Spencer’s libel about Tennants Creek published in Leader has caused comment. Another drought relieved by thunderstorm. News of mutual friends.

22 October 1902. French has said Spencer very busy since return, pleased to hear about successful lectures. News of Gillen’s lecture. No one else collecting so Spencer need not worry about the lizard. News of mutual friends.

29 March 1903. Gillen very busy preparing for his “corroborees”, Field hopes to get some lizard skins. Had good rainfall. Discussion of stone implements. Field has collection of at least 150. Spencer's caution to people via papers about not rushing to gold fields in Winnecke’s Depot useless. Cowle very ill and gone to Adelaide. News of mutual friends.

2 October 1903. Got lizards, but Field cleaned the skins badly. Heard that Spencer and Gillen been to Williams Creek. Foster is rearing three cats for Field to settle problem of pouches. Cowle still ill. Glad to hear Spencer’s book is completed. Field still having problem with his foot. Find at Helens Spring of tracks in stone of kangaroos etc., similar tracks also occur at Mosquite Creek, which Field is prepared to visit if Spencer is interested.

H Letters from Sydney John Hickson

See here for biographical details about Hickson. (external link)

Spencer's cover sheet for letters

22 May 1887. Friend of Hickson’s arriving on sailing ship. Hickson asks Spencer to take care of him and show him sights. Hickson is continuing research at Museum in Cambridge, went to Balfour’s grand wedding. News of other mutual friends, prospects for Hickson’s future employment not good as all posts filled.

1 January 1889. Hickson had very disastrous 1888. No prospects of any position because of recent losing of deputy chair [?] at Oxford. Relates details. Thanks Spencer for specimen. Hickson will publish book on Celebes before seeking another appointment. Two different schools of thought in science in Britain and US (Weismannism and Neo-Lemarckism).

25 December 1900. Manchester. Hickson hopes Spencer will have good time in North with Gillen. News of mutual friends, glad to hear Roth had a place that suited him.

I Letters from Charles Ernest Cowle

See here for short biographical information about Cowle (1863-1922). Please note that transcriptions of all these letters are available hereor at this site ( external sites).[N.B. "specimens" refers to biological specimens not anthropological ones]

30 July 1894. Sending specimens and asks for more spirit and bottles.

14 November 1894. Sending specimens and discussion of others. Everyone is getting ready for Alice Springs Races. News of mutual friends. Cowle has been following a group of young men who have been cattle-raiding. Cowle’s garden is doing well, he celebrated his birthday with lots of whisky.

16 November 1894. Sending specimens.

22 December 1894. Cowle has been searching for more specimens but had no luck, little water at present. Daer confident of success at Races. Cowle is invited to the Gillens for Christmas but decided to stay at Illamurta. The garden is in good condition.

18 February 1895. Lots of rain, discussion of specimens sending some. Cowle received Spencer’s wire about Stirling. Cowle will obtain further specimens for Spencer and has obtained many eggs for Keartland. He thanks Spencer for tobacco and photographs. Daer won 4 races.

11 April 1895. Cowle has missed seeing Spencer at Charlotte Waters, sending further specimens and lots of eggs for Keartland. Gillen is very busy with tywerrenge. Cowle has been traveling and seen many things.

16 May 1895. Discussions of specimens. Gillen is taking his wife towards Adelaide where he will go later. Cowle may also go south in winter. His mother died recently. Willshire is leaving Victoria River Downs Police Camp and has asked Cowle if he wishes to be recommended as replacement.

19 June 1895. Cowle has been traveling around with Coulthard. News of mutual friends. Sending specimens. Cowle asked if he would like to transfer to Northern Territory, but he declined, also asked to go on year’s leave and travel to West Australia prospecting.

23 July 1895. Discussion of specimens. Gillen got a lot of stones, everyone else is also collecting specimens.

10 5 October 1895. Spencer's letter describing Gillen’s trip to Melbourne was amusing. Cowle has obtained some tywerrenge. Been busy with horse-thieves and been on long trip. Discussed specimens. The garden is flourishing.

11 5 November 1895. Sending specimens. Heard little from Gillen. Horn book is finally going to press, it is a pity it can’t include chapters on experiences of Spencer while compiling volume.

12 13 December 1895. Daer dead from diabetes. Cowle has been traveling and there has been bad weather. He is hoping to have a quiet Christmas.

13 28 January 1896. Cowle had quiet Christmas. He sent Gillen some tywerrenge and other objects which Gillen accepted because they were genuine whereas he [Gillen] had recently obtained some objects from Barrow Creek, which had turned out to be “manufactured… for the occasion”.

14 12 March 1896. Cowle thanks Spencer for Part II of Horn. Suggests areas to be visited if Spencer revisits central Australia next Christmas. Discussion of specimens. Cowle is intending to visit Byrne in May. Seeing Gillen before next mail. Visited Hermannsburg Mission. Aborigines had seen rabbits locally.

15 17 April 1896. Discussed specimens. Seen Gillen. Discussed arrangements for Spencer’s next trip. Sent French pair of cockatoo eggs. Discussed problems with Horn and Winnecke re Horn volumes.

16 30 May 1896. Cowle has been traveling a lot since last letter on police business. News of mutual friends. Glad Spencer will have more time for next trip. Discussed arrangements.

17 7 July 1896. Discussed further arrangements for trip. Gillen is photography mad. Cowle tells anecdote of Gillen obtaining information from “my boy”.

18 22 August 1896. Cowle instructed to help Spencer on the next trip. Discussion of specimens. Kean and Cowle had to help in confinement of woman and baby. Stirling’s contribution to Horn volumes to press. Cowle will let Spencer know if there is rain.

19 9 October 1896. Cowle has been tracking cattle killers. Discussed arrangements for a trip.

20 9 February 1897. Cowle tells of traveling experiences since he left Spencer. Got some artefacts, a big ceremony (“Ungoora”) is to be held. Eylmann turned up at Illamurta and is exploring the country. Cowle has been promoted. Sending specimens.

21 5 August 1897. Cowle has been to Melbourne to see family, taking up Spencer’s manuscript to Gillen.

22 15 March 1897. Two Aborigines have speared Beattie. Cowle is sending specimens.

23 20 October 1897. Drought. Discussed photography with Gillen, sending flint to Spencer.

24 8 January 1898. Still drought. Seen Gillen and Mission. Sent four skins to French and will try to get another photograph of “Boomerang” (a person with deformation of the legs). Had quiet Christmas.

25 25 February 1898. Sending photographs, drought still bad in Illamurta.

26 17 April 1898. Cowle feeling very negative about Aborigines.

27 24 June 1898. Cowle has been tracking cattle-killers. Seen Gillen and Byrne.

28 7 August 1898. Eylmann at Mission. Cowle is tracking cattle-killers. New man has replaced Kean at Illamurta.

29 1 September 1898. Tracking another group. Glad to hear good progress with the book.

30 18 March 1899. Cowle has been taking another group to trial. Cowle destroyed lots of spears that were being manufactured. Gillen’s reaction to the publication of book and lectures etc are outlined. Maurice has been up obtaining information and artifacts. Cowle had encounter with a snake.

31 15 April 1899. Cowle has not yet been able to read the book but gives preliminary comments. Has been traveling since he last wrote.

32 10 May 1899. Present at ceremony for Gillen. Cowle has been to Horseshoe Bend for voting.

33 10 June 1899. Discussion of returning boomerangs. Discussion of Cowle’s view of character of Aborigines and position of squatters. Trouble with trackers because of women.

34 9 July 1899. Cowle congratulates Spencer on the book, still trouble with “boys” and women. Gillen left for Moonta. Chance also moved there.

35 3 September 1899. Cowle congratulates Spencer on his directorship of (National) Museum, he has been travelling. Gillen is settling down at Moonta. Cowle realises he has not fulfilled his destiny to be an artist.

36 13 April 1900. Had rains, discussed caterpillars. Got artefacts. Asks Spencer for photographs to give to Kelly.

37 28 May 1900. Been tracking. Discussion of specimen and artefacts. Very bad whooping cough at mission. Discussion of what should be done with personal collections of artefacts. Thanks Spencer for sending photographs to Kelly. Asks if Spencer wants his notes about tywerrenge.

38 8 July 1900. Congratulations on fellowship of the Royal Society, sending seeds. New man replacing Barlow. Got a lot of tywerrenge.

39 31 August 1900. Sending notes on tywerrenge and obtained many. Discussion of new man.

40 30 September 1900. Hopes arrangements for next trip are going well. Been travelling. Discussion of preparation of specimens.

41 23 November 1900. Been away over Elections. Glad got funding for trip from David Syme. Cowle had possibility of moving to Tempe but didn’t take it and now regrets it. New man resigned. Got a lot of tywerrenge and will send off. Discussed artefacts.

42 29 December 1900. Sent tywerrenge, man killed in store and Cowle travelled over Christmas.

43 17 February 1901. Cowle has been the victim of anonymous letter accusing him of indecencies which he has had to refute. Had rains. Lots of rumours about how Spencer and Gillen are to come up.

44 14 April 1901. Asks Spencer to look into totems during Alcheringa. List of tywerrenge and myth associated attached.

45 12 April 1902. Congratulates Spencer on safe return. Cowle went to Melbourne and then returned where he found European boy dead at the Goyder.

46 20 September 1902. Followed Spencer and Gillen through details in press. Conditions very bad and reports of starving people. Cowle does not support feeding programmes. News of mutual friends. Winnecke dead.

47 25 November 1902. Sent tywerrenge and other artefacts with list, no rain.

48 21 January 1903. Got patchy rains. Cowle had health problems. News of mutual friends.

49 17 February 1903. Still health problems – sends notes.

50 17 June 1903. In private hospital and not very well, news of mutual friends.

51 26 May 1920. Still in ill health (more or less bed-ridden) gives details of joint activities in 1896 and 1897 (for Spencer’s book) and discusses current management of interior and news of mutual friends.

Spencer papers Box 2

Correspondence with Francis (Frank) James Gillen dating from 1894 to 1904

See here (external site) for a biography for Francis James Gillen (1855-1912), Spencer's main anthropological partner.

This box contains 185 items, almost all letters, but including a few telegrams, sent by Gillen to Spencer. The current whereabouts of Spencer's own letters and replies to Gillen are currently unknown (in 2014). Gillen's surviving papers are held in various institutions in Australia, see here.To find transcriptions of all these letters please go here or see this site. (external site).

Letters from Gillen

8 September 1894. Sending good wishes and some photographs. News of the Alice Springs community.

12 October 1894. Acknowledging Spencer's letters. News of photographs and collections.

16 November 1894. Thanks for Spencer’s letters. Sending photographs and specimens. News of personalities.

[Unknown day] December 1894. Thanks for photos sent by Spencer. Denunciation of Stirling and his article in Nature. Stirling wrongly considered the scientific leader of the Expedition.

2 February 1895. Thanks for congratulations on birth of another Gillen child. Spencer's interest in moles. More of the Stirling dispute. Sending specimens.

9 March 1895. Gillen has sent more specimens. Offers to look for more, or provide information for anthropologists. Interesting details about internal Victorian politics, the “unscrupulous greed of the corrupt ruling classes of years gone by”.

“Good Friday” 1895. Has sent further specimens. Thanks for prints. Gillen has collected a lot of tywerrenge stones, and other materials, which women and boys must not see. More arguments about Australian politics.

29 July 1895. Gillen is on a journey to Adelaide and is sending plates and specimens.

13 August 1895. Again writing on route to Adelaide and Melbourne.

10 30 August 1895. Writing after visit to Melbourne. Sends Spencer a copy of a negative letter. Gillen has written to Stirling.

11 1 September 1895. Acknowledging letter from Spencer.

12 11 September 1895. Informing Spencer of conversations with Stirling, for whom he will not provide more information. Urges Spencer not to overwork.

13 22 September 1895. Gillen reports an awkward discussion with Stirling.

14 11 October 1895. More complications with Stirling and plans for publication.

15 7 November 1895. The Gillen family is safely back at Alice Springs. Sending specimens. Gillen has lost money in stocks and shares. He reports on the additions he has made to his collections. More suspicion of Stirling. Talks with Aborigines.

16 20 December 1895. Thanks for Spencer's letter and presents. Aboriginal woman refuses to be photographed. Sending specimens. Difficulties over photography. Complications over publication of results of the Horn Expedition.

17 31 January 1896. Gillen's Irish nationalist sentiments. Sending specimens. Details of the quarrels over the Horn Expedition. Aboriginal Class systems, and sexual arrangements.

18 13 March 1896. Condolence on illness of Spencer’s wife and death of small son. Sending notes on table of Aboriginal relationships, which has presented many difficulties. Describes how he got the information required. Details of the rain-making ceremony, as well as others. Attack on Horn for misuse of Gillen’s photographs. Discussion about cause of deaths decisions by a traditional healer.

19 14 March 1896. Following up No. 18. Sending more photographs. More information about tywerrenge.

20 25 April 1896. More academic jealousies. Is Stirling poaching information? Thanks for Spencer’s encouragement. Gillen believes that he “can and will get to the bottom of the ... question so far as these tribes are concerned”. Details of Gillen’s pattern of cooperation with Spencer. Sending specimens. Discussion of “message sticks”, and “smoke signals”. Marriage customs. Discusses the role of missionaries locally. Criticism of Horn. Denunciation of Lord Salisbury. Met Eylmann.

21 1 May 1896. Gillen comments on ill-treatment of “Blacks” and their exclusion from their old camping-grounds.

22 5 June 1896. Discussing a trip to be made together. Gillen recommends use of camels. The Charlotte Waters marriage system. The Luritja tribe. The influence of Missionaries is degrading. The remarriage of widows. Sending specimens, particularly lizards. Sacred ceremonies. Criticism of Stirling. Gillen's disbelief in “the message stick”. Women “doctors” among the tribes. The Wilyara initiation ceremony (includes manuscript notes by Spencer).

23 14 July 1896. Gillen is going on a six week trip and will hunt for information and specimens. Has sent more specimens. The Luritja tribe. Cowle, his personal strengths and weaknesses. Cowle has collected tywerrenge. Winnecke and his future assignments. His dispute with Horn. The problem of sexual promiscuity among the tribes. Eating the totem article. The Arrernte. Their attitude to the Luritja. The Luritja language. The secret use of the names of dead warriors. The significance of “message sticks”. The Engwura end of initiation ceremonies. Gillen causes prisoner to faint when “over his ethnographic gridiron”.

24 August 1896. Gillen is back from his trip. Details of specimens and information sent. Evidence pointing to promiscuity. Male and female sub-incision operations and their names. Stirling and his newly-published paper. The Government and “the Hospital row”. Gillen has arranged for an Engwura ceremony to be performed whilst Spencer is at Alice Springs. The “gesture language” in certain tribes. The ban on speaking for women in mourning etc.

24a 25 September 1896. Telegram reading: Confidential Am Urged Powerful Friends Contest My Brother’s District Assured Success Advise Me If Our Work Sufficiently Important Warrant Me Declining Reply Immediately (signature) F.J. Gillen

24b 26 September 1896. Telegram to Spencer signed W. Mann, University, reading: Gillen Have Declined Quite Content

24c 26 September 1896. Telegram to Spencer signed W. Mann, University, reading: Gillen Don’t Be Uneasy Have Definitely Declined Slianthe

25 8 October 1896. Gillen's brother has died. Preparations for the Engwura ceremony. The problem of feeding the people attending. Arrangements for Spencer's visit to stay with Gillen.

26 9 February 1897. Spencer is on his way to “boom-stricken microbe-ridden frowsy old Melbourne”. Recollections of Spencer's visit to Alice Springs. Gillen’s efforts to make money: horses and shares. His work as a magistrate.

27 23 March 1897. Gillen has had a visit from Erhard Eylmann of Germany who plans to publish a book on his travels. A skin disease. Stone tywerrenges. Winnecke has used “trickery” over the Horn pictures. Spencer is afraid that the University authorities think he makes too many expeditions. Gillen refutes this and says "you burn the intellectual candle at both ends”.

28 6 May 1897. Gillen has published a paper with plates. An encouraging letter received from Henry Balfour [q.v.] of the University Museum, Oxford. The roots of a class system? A good piece of detective work (tracking) by Cowle. Gillen is against using firearms in capturing native offenders. Gillen has refused the offer of another official appointment. Details of various Aboriginal beliefs. Winnecke’s journal and the charges he makes against Horn.

29 18 June 1897. Gillen has dispatched a large collection of notes to Spencer. He thinks some point back to a time of maternal descent. A long list of topics. “It’s going to be a great book”. Gillen's praise of Spencer as a collaborator. The damage the white man has done to the Aboriginal people and their traditions. He has sent specimens. Guarded references to Stirling. Some cave drawings. The “great work” is taking shape.

30 30 July 1897. Gillen has sent off 50 or more pages of manuscript. He has just returned from a trip. Details of axes and knives. A ceremony. Anxieties about “the book”. Will Macmillans the publishers accept it? The Winnecke-Horn dispute. Native languages and food.

31 10 September 1897. Gillen has dispatched specimens. Comments on some of Spencer's drafts. Eating the totem. How he settled a quarrel between two Aboriginal girls. Details of photographic work. Gillen's Irish nationalist feelings.

32 22 October 1897. Gillen has dispatched photographs. The tywerrenge and its markings. Further corrections to Spencer's manuscript. Gillen believes that the Aborigines were once more numerous. “The flesh of man is never eaten under any circumstances”. The relationship of men with their totems. The danger that “the book” may be anticipated by some other publications. There is a drought in the region.

33 3 December 1897. Thanking Spencer for his letter and gift of books and oranges. News of a ceremony which may be at the root of Western baptismal rites. Gillen has had a letter from Sir John Lubbock and asks for advice on how to reply. A tradition pointing to the origin of the class system. Continuing drought. Gillen's speculations in stocks and shares.

34 13 January 1898. A fracas among the Aborigines. A man wounded by a boomerang and the behavior of his women. A new development over the tywerrenge. Mr Roth’s book. “The book is going to be a great one”. Gillen has replied to Lubbock’s letter (see No. 33) saying that J.G. Frazer can give full information about Spencer and Gillen’s work. More speculations in mining shares. He has lost a lot of money. Low salary paid to the Protector of Aborigines. The Arltunga mine is starting up and crushing machinery has been installed.

35 11 March 1898. Problems of the mail between Alice Springs and Melbourne. There have been rains and floods with damage to railway lines and problems at the Arltunga mine. Roth’s book on language etc. Facial and bodily scars. A ceremony lasting 5 nights. Sexual ceremonies. Sending specimens. Aboriginal women who succeed in declaring themselves traditional healers. An Aboriginal cattle thief has been shot and killed whilst being arrested. Gillen's concern, as Sub-Protector, about this. He has recommended that traders be forbidden to use firearms except in controlled circumstances. He attacks Spencer for his “hide-bound Toryism”. The meaning of tywerrenge.

36 3 April 1898. More about mail arrangements. The joint book is nearly finished. Gillen is planning to learn “the language” thoroughly and hopes to become Protector. Their difficulties over food supply. “If ever I get into the House (with a big H.) I will make better treatment of our natives my own particular fad”, (that is--if he ever becomes a politician).

37 17 April 1898. Local excitement because Gillen has sentenced “the king’s” youngest son to 6 months in gaol. His efforts to comfort the king. The “Couvade” ceremony. Customs prevailing among women in pregnancy. Negotiations with Macmillans’ over publication of the book. His political views.

38 13 May 1898. Inter-state rivalries in Australia. Gillen urges Spencer to look after himself and work less hard. The need for an Aborigines’ Department. News of gold-mining ventures. His explanation of the totem system - “it originated in a desire to account for origin and for no other purpose”. He disagrees with Roth’s explanation. More political views. His ambition for a political career is diminishing. He has more interest in anthropological work. The Commonwealth Bill and plans for federation.

39 28 May 1898. Discussion of their respective shares in the work. Gillen gives Spencer full credit. The shooting of cattle-thieves if they try to avoid arrest. He has been speculating in shares and lost money.

40 June 1898. Gillen's Irish nationalist views. Things have been improving thanks to Prime Mininster (of the UK) Gladstone. Discussion of various politicians. His views on a referendum. News of Eylmann’s journey.

41 10 July 1898. Gillen has enjoyed correcting proofs of “the book”. Details of Eylmann’s work. Killing of a would-be Aboriginal convert to Christianity. Aboriginal beliefs as to the causes of illness. The problem of Irish Home Rule.

42 7 August 1898. Gillen has been exceptionally busy with official duties. Sending photographs of a ceremony. The returning of tywerrenge. He and Spencer differ about the merits of Gladstone and Disraeli. His views on two Australian politicians: Burton and Reid.

43 22 August 1898. Gillen writes to say that he is leaving Alice Springs with his family next morning.

44 September 1898. Gillen has given a successful lecture in Adelaide, which was well reported in the newspapers. He stressed “the want of encouragement of scientific workers in Australia”.

45 30 October 1898. Gillen hates being back at Alice Springs without his family. He wants to sell his collection of native weapons, etc. Spencer has gone back to England and is trying to get an appointment there. Their book is to come out shortly. Gillen thinks Spencer may inherit the mantle of Huxley.

46 13 November 1898. Gillen reports that it is 106 degrees in the shade at Alice Springs. References to help received from Frazer. His opinion of Tylor “has sunk to Zero”. He is going to take photographs of an initiation ceremony.

47 23 December 1898. An outbreak of measles among the local Aborigines. Six deaths in the last fortnight. Murder and cattle stealing among the tribes. He recommends an amnesty and a fresh start. He has applied for a new posting. He is reading Frazer’s Golden Bough. News of Eylmann who is returning to Germany. More newspaper praise of his lecture (see No. 44).

48 8 January 1899. Gillen has been appointed to Moonta in South Australia, which he describes as a “nest of Cousin Jacks and rigid Methodism”. Emoluments are improved. The measles epidemics has continued. He has been invited to write a series of articles about the Aborigines, but has declined pending publication of their book. The Southern Australian government is providing funds for a comprehensive work on the Australian race. Gillen claims some credit for this.

49 19 March 1899. Gillen has been on an 800 miles trip and collected many specimens. His successor at Alice Springs is to be a Mr Bradshaw. He has received a copy of “The Book”. He thinks it is splendidly got up, but the illustrations are little disappointing. He has had a letter of commendation from a Minister (J.H. Gordon). Spencer has decided to stay in Australia.

50 15 April 1899. Gillen has seen the criticisms of the book. Howitt has praised it enthusiastically. Federation of Australia is on the way. He is resigning the office of Sub-Protector, but hopes to retain the title. The Aborigines are sorry to see him go. “I shall feel parting with the blacks more than with the whites”.

51 29 April 1899. Telegram reading “Leaving for Adelaide tomorrow. Taking Last Look at Engwura Ground Today Fixing Site For Erection Stone Pillar There Slianthe (signature F.J. Gillen)

52 19 July 1899. Gillen has taken up his new post and is very busy with official duties.

53 22 August 1899. Gillen renews his request for help with a lecture he has to give, but Spencer is very busy with “a Herculean task of creating order out of chaos”. Reorganisation of the (National) Museum (of Victoria). Gillen has read more reviews of the book. A bill for “The Protection and Care of the Aboriginal and Half-Caste Inhabitants of the Province” has been introduced in the South Australian Upper House. He is to give evidence to a Select Committee. His criticisms of the bill: “There appears to be a growing desire to do something for the Blacks…” He is unhappy in the bureaucratic routine of his new post.

54 7 September 1899. Postcard reporting on a trip to the Point Pearce Mission Station. “Be prepared for startling statements about eating of the totem…”. 

55 17 September 1899. Further details of the trip to the Mission Station. Information obtained from a half-caste man.

56 28 September 1899. Gillen declines an invitation to accept the presidentship [of A.A.A.S. ethnological section] and urges Spencer to accept. He has been disappointed over better postings.

57 11 October 1899. Gillen reports on his appearance before the Select Committee. The importance of guaranteeing access to waterholes for the Aborigines. He may agree to accept the position of president if Spencer will write his address for him. He feels that the Government has not recognized his services properly.

58 15 November 1899. Gillen urges Spencer to work less hard. He has been accepted the position of president. He lists the points he would like included in his address. The “path to extinction, which we all agree is inevitable and rapidly approaching” should be made as pleasant as possible for the Aborigines. Discovery of a vast, possibly man-made, “Amphitheatre”. The Boer War, the reaction of the Irish nationalists to it. The injustices done to Ireland. His lecture at Wallaroo was a success. Political manoeuvres in the State Parliament.

59 28 January 1900. Gillen reports on a trip to Adelaide. A meeting with Stirling.

60 30 May 1900. Discussion of a joint trip to the northern coast. Gillen doubts whether he can go because of financial difficulties. “Wire just to hand announcing capture of Johannesburg”. His share speculations have gone wrong. Kingston and his political future. Will he be prime Minister of Federal Australia? Lord Salisbury’s attack on the Irish.

61 16 June 1900. Telegram reading: “Delighted to Hear of Both Distinctions Heartiest Congratulations From Us Both Forgive Gillingham Slianthe” (signature) Gillen.

62 21 June 1900. Sending congratulations on Spencer’s “dual honour”. Gillen now thinks he can come on the northern trip, provided that he can get leave. Things are not going well at Alice Springs, under his successor Bradshaw.

63 19 July 1900. Prospects for the joint northern trip are good. His views on Marshall Hall. His lecture on “Magic” went well.

64 7 September 1900. Gillen's problems over leave, and making up his pay, if he goes on the trip. There has been a public petition to the Government to allow him to go.

65 10 September 1900. Problems of raising funds for the northern trip. At least £1000 is needed.

66 11 September 1900. Still no news from the Government about Gillen's leave.

67 11 September 1900. Details of tables of kinship relationships.

68 12 September 1900. Still no news from the Government.

69 13 September 1900. A private letter has come from Charles Todd about Gillen's leave. Stirling has not been cooperative about fundraising for the trip.

70 15 September 1900. Gillen's terms for joining the expedition. He hopes all the funds needed will not be raised from Victoria alone. His views on Stirling’s unhelpfulness. Logistic arrangements.

71 16 September 1900. Still no news from Charles Todd. “Cinematograph idea is good if the funds will run it, but I think photographic records of corroborees are even more important”.

72 16 September 1900. No official news yet. Gillen would like costs shared equally between Victoria and South Australia.

73 21 September 1900. Gillen is going to Adelaide to see Charles Todd. He feels “unsettled and anxious”.

74 24 September 1900. Details of interviews with Kingston and others, which he plans to have in Adelaide.

75 24 September 1900. Gillen is uneasy about his leave and suspects hostile influences. He thinks Stirling wants to join the expedition, but does not want to have him.

76 24 September (1900). Chance has been told that he is to join the expedition. He thinks £1500 is now needed.

77 5 October 1900. Details of the term on which Chance is joining the expedition. There have been many other applications to join.

78 10 October 1900. Dr Kennedy has applied to join the expedition.

79 11 October 1900. Administrative arrangements. The expedition is opening a Bank account.

80 15 October 1900. More banking and administrative details.

81 25 October 1900. An approach from The Register newspaper for photographs and information.

82 26 October 1900. Another possible recruit for the expedition. Who will pay for the additional cost? Buying horses and a buggy.

83 1 November 1900. Received a letter from Charles Todd. Looking for a suitable vehicle (a buggy) for the expedition. Horses and saddles have been bought. Official information received that Gillen will be paid at £400 per annum during his absence. One country newspaper has ridiculed the expedition, saying that it will not benefit humanity one straw.

84 20 November 1900. Gillen suggests a book for Spencer to write. More preparations for the expedition. Native Tribes of Central Australia has begun to show a small profit. Davidson has explored “30,000 miles” of hitherto unknown country.

85 4 December 1900. The need for rain. The case of Marshall Hall, who has lost a University appointment because of his religious (or irreligious) opinions. Gillen is keen on taking a phonograph on the expedition, but is unhappy about cinematograph films in the heat.

86 11 December 1900. Gillen has changed his mind and now wants a cinematograph. Horses and vehicles.

87 20 December 1900. “Still infernally dry up North”. A list of camp equipment required.

88 21 December 1900. An “Abbott” buggy is available for £35. Shall he buy? News of government postings.

89 30 December 1900. Gillen has not heard from Spencer for three weeks.

90 Undated (early in January 1901). Gillen writes from Adelaide where he has had meetings with the Premier and others. The Government is being helpful over equipment. The weather in the North is bad (drought).

91 7 January 1900 (actually 1901). Gillen is planning a trip to Melbourne to meet Spencer. He fears trouble with the missionaries, who are “an unreasonable lot of brutes”.

92 8 January 1901. Gillen suggests another point of departure for the expedition

93 21 January 1901. Gillen has ordered supplies of fodder and horsefeed. Chance is going ahead to feed up the horses. Still no rain in the North, which will make difficulties. Transportation arrangements.

94 22 January 1901. More problems of transportation and fodder, hinging on the possibility of rain.

95 25 January 1901. Grave anxiety about the drought.

96 14 February 1901. (through R.J. Besley) Besley forwards the text of a wire from Gillen giving details of rainfall in the North.

97 18 February 1901. Gillen's happiness because rain has fallen. Details of transportation arrangements and equipment. Financial arrangements.

98 9 February 1901. Gillen reports more Government help over transportation. There has been more rain.

99 20 February 1901. There has been more rain in the North.

100 21 February 1901. More news of rain.

101 22 February 1901. More rain.

102 23 February 1901. Details of newly bought horses and buggy. Gillen denounces Spencer's and English assumptions of superiority over the Irish, he hopes for another Parnell.

103 25 February 1901. More news of rain. Gillen is going to Adelaide to attend the proclamation of the King (Edward VII).

104 1 March 1901. Gillen has returned unwell from Adelaide. He has seen Chance off with the horses. More purchases of equipment. Further help from Government.

105 19 June 1901. From Mrs Gillen (Moonta) to Spencer. Mrs Gillen sends good wishes to Spencer. “I hope you have been able to look after and manage Frank, take great care of him…” 

106 Undated. Statement of expenditure of the “Spencer Gillen Expedition” amounting to £1224-2 -3.

107 7 April 1902. Gillen is back “in harness”. Death and burial ceremonies. Gillen appears to have been made a fellow of the Anthropological Society, which he would sooner have “than a KCMG” (he hadn't been). Interviews with the Press on return from the Expedition. (Includes newspaper clipping)

108 9 April 1902. Gillen has sent Spencer a present of local wine. His criticisms of “The Magic Rose” by Ernest Crawley. His kindly reception as a scientist by the people of Moonta.

109 11 April 1902. Details of a reception in Gillen's honour. The excessive cost of “preparing photographic film”. Bad conditions in the centre of the country: drought and famine.

110 14 April 1902. Gillen reports that gramophone cylinders have arrived. There is a credit balance of £110 in the Expedition account, which he intends closing.

111 21 May 1902. Gillen urges Spencer not to overwork. Disposal of the collection of specimens made on the Expedition. The mine at Moonta is to be temporarily closed, and some hundreds of men will be thrown out of work. News of mutual acquaintances.

112 28 May 1902. Gillen sends newspaper cuttings about the Expedition. He is to lecture to the Geographical Society.

113 2 June 1902. The Expedition’s horses are to be sold.

114 18 June 1902. Gillen is preparing for his lecture. “Funk is the dominant note in our social and political life just now”. Retrenchment in the civil service. Much unemployment in Adelaide and “suffering amongst the poorer classes”. Gillen has never been so hard up in his life. He has had a gratifying letter from Alfred Cort Haddon. An American evangelist and his methods.

115 19 June 1902. The beliefs of Warumungu women. Gillen appreciates that Spencer has always kept him in the foreground of their joint work. Threats of cuts in all official salaries, including Gillen's.

116 25 June 1902. Gillen is planning his lecture to the Geographical Society and wants help from Spencer.

117 27 June 1902. Gillen has been reading a portion of Spencer's manuscript and provides information. The Arltunga mine looks like being a boom.

118 “Wednesday”? June 1902 Gillen asks Spencer for his definition of religion. Is totemism a form of religion?

119 “Saturday”? [June 1902]. Gillen has been reading and correcting Spencer's manuscript. Sends a cutting from the Adelaide Advertiser about the discovery of an Aboriginal shelter containing drawings of birds, reptiles, etc.

120 30 June 1902. Details of their forthcoming lectures.

121 3 July 1902. Cuts in professorial salaries are being threatened.

122 8 July 1902. Gillen has heard that Spencer's lecture was a great success.

123 14 July 1902. More about the lectures.

124 16 July 1902. Gillen thanks Spencer for sending him a full account of his successful lecture. He is still making plans for his own lecture.

125 17 July 1902. Gillen is delighted with all the slides sent for his lecture.

126 18 July 1902. Plans for Gillen’s lecture. It is to be held in Adelaide Hall, which seats 1500. Stirling has offered help.

127 21 July 1902. Gillen is anxious about his lecture. Political disputes in the State government. Gillen is delighted at the retirement of “that old pig Salisbury”, and Arthur Balfour coming to power.

128 22 July 1902. Gillen sends newspaper cuttings advertising his lecture.

129 27 July 1902. Gillen reports that his lecture was a great success before a magnificent audience. He has been given reason to hope for a better posting.

130 29 July 1902. Domestic details. More news of the lecture and a possible repetition.

131 30 July 1902. Gillen has had a talk with the State Prime Minister about future postings. Full details of the lecture.

132 14 August 1902. Spencer has done a “kitchen midden” dig. Gillen's comments on beliefs “and other parts of Spencer's new draft”. 

133 22 August 1902. Gillen sends Spencer Brockman’s report on his explorations northwest of Kimberley. He is to lecture at Adelaide University, and asks Spencer to write a new talk. Frazer has proposed him for “membership” of the Royal Anthropological Institute. References to ethnological books, including Lang’s Custom and Myth and Lubbock’s Prehistoric Times. “The pendulum has swung round here with a vengeance. The Labour party is practically dead, done to death by their own greed. All Australia is in a parlous condition…”

134 27 August 1902. Gillen copies extracts from his record of the Expedition for Spencer. A curious tradition about the rain totem. The Mara table of relationships. The Warna ceremonies.

135 3 September 1902. Spencer has not accepted Gillen's suggestion for disposal of any cash surplus from the University lecture. It is to go to the relief of Central Australian natives. More details of the rain ceremony. His comments on the Boer War, and its end. More about the Mara table of relationships.

136 4 September 1902. Sending photos of two of the oldest survivors of an almost extinct tribe.

137 8 September 1902. Recollection of the expedition a year ago. The fire ceremony.

138 9 September 1902. Gillen is glad to have heard from Spencer by telegram, about the solving of a relationship problem (the Mara table).

139 10 September 1902. Further discussion of the relationship table. Spencer has made a “great find”.

140 12 September 1902. Gillen has been confused over the relationship table by a further letter from Spencer. Winnecke has died.

141 12 September 1902. Telegram reading: “Hopelessly Tied Up Can’t Get Grip Of It At All”.

142 19 September 1902. Gillen reports an earthquake shock at Moonta. His lecture at Adelaide went off well. “The slides were shown splendidly by means of electric light”. Gillen has lunched with Samuel Way, the Governor of the State. Will he and Spencer get recognition from “The Home Authorities”?

143 2 October 1902. More about the possibility of recognition. Gillen has received a humiliating note about the lecture from the Registrar of the Adelaide University. An electoral victory by Irvine. His views on certain Irish nationalists. A helpful letter from Henry Grainger, Agent-General for South Australia in London.

144 12 October 1902. Gillen has recovered from pleurisy. Spencer is depressed about the conditions in Melbourne University. Dame Nellie Melba and Eugene Sandow have been in Adelaide. An interesting English visitor named Keane, the son of a Church dignitary.

145 19 October 1902. News of visitors and mutual friends. The need for professors not to lose touch with the people. Spencer has successfully arranged the ethnological artefacts at the Melbourne Museum.

146 26 October 1902. Gillen's recollections of the expedition a year ago. He sends Spencer material drawn from his notes. The meaning of particular terms. Discussion of Crawley’s “Mystic Rose”. Details of other books. An economy drive by the State Government, bringing cuts and redundancies, and increased taxation. Rising costs of living. University salaries are being cut.

147 29 October 1902. Gillen has finished reading Crawley’s “Mystic Rose” with its criticisms of the Gillen-Spencer book. References to the problem of primitive sexual promiscuity.

148 3 November 1902. Gillen has happily received a cheque from Macmillans (proceeds of “the book”). Spencer has sent him the draft of their second book, Gillen makes corrections. Press comment on Melbourne University. An attack in The Age. The Transcontinental Land Grant Railway Bill has passed the Lower House in the South Australian Parliament. His new suit of clothes and its effect on Moonta society.

149 8 November 1902. More about Crawley’s “Mystic Rose”. Dr Haddon’s address to the Anthropological Section of the British Association at Belfast. Gillen's conversation with Sir Frederick Holder. Assessments of Australian politicians and ministers. Holder supports Melbourne University against the Press.

150 17 November 1902. Gillen family news, including daughter’s illness. A successful operation. Spencer disagrees with Haddon’s interpretation of totemism. Gillen's theory.

151 4 December 1902. Gillen reports that the long drought is breaking up. Aboriginal traditions about droughts. Reminiscences of the expedition and mistakes made on it. The possibility of appealing to Andrew Carnegie for financial support for more joint work. The Age and its attacks on university staff. News on the transcontinental railway project, and the routes it should take. Fraud and laxity in the Australian customs administration. Kingston’s attempts to put things right.

152 18 December 1902. Gillen reports plenty of rain. News of personal contacts. The disposal of Winnecke’s collection to Adelaide.

153 22 December 1902. Christmas good wishes. Recollections of the expedition.

154 6 January 1903. Gillen has been working on Spencer's draft. Queries about the material to be included. Details of plans for the transcontinental railway. He doubts the possibilities of opening up mines and “splendid pastoral land”. Discussion of the Irvine Government’s scheme to give Civil Servants special representation. Praise of the Commonwealth Act dealing with the civil service.

155 11 January 1903. The unsolved problems of the Mara relationship classifications. His anxiety about it.

156 12 January 1903. The problem still unsolved. Totemic restrictions on marriage. 

157 13 January 1903. More thoughts about the problem.

158 19 January 1903. Different accounts of a ceremony. Gillen has found a page from a small field notebook, which appears to solve the problem (attached to letter).

159 29 January 1903. Gillen has been looking for photographs as illustrations for the new book. Tribal names and their origins.

160 1 February 1903. Gillen has been going over Spencer's draft. The meaning of tribal names. Information about beliefs and traditions he has gathered on a visit to a local mission station. News of mutual acquaintances. Developments in the goldfields.

161 4 February 1903. The question of inheritance of implements by an Arrernte man. Details of photographs to be used in the book.

162 [unknown day] February 1903. Spencer has been unwell. Gillen refers to Methodist versus Roman Catholic disputes.

163 4 March 1903. An imminent boom at the Arltunga goldfield. The need for a new telegraph line.

164 23 March 1903. Photographs of an Aboriginal Council are described by Gillen. More news of the goldfields boom. He may make a prospecting trip. A large bequest to the Adelaide Museum and Library. Correspondence in Adelaide papers about brutal treatment of Aboriginal people.

165 28 March 1903. Gillen defends himself against Spencer's stern criticism of his proposal to go prospecting for gold.

166 7 April 1903. The Winnecke Depot goldfields claims have been dissipated by an adverse report. Gillen puts his hopes on Arltunga. 

167 26 April 1903. Gillen is sending examples of Tonkin’s drawings of animals and insects. He wants him to take a course at the School of Art. So far Tonkin has never done anything except copper mining, but Gillen believes he has a future as an artist. “The Peninsula farmers have done splendidly this year, good crops and high prices”.

168 6 May 1903. Spencer has given a favourable opinion on Tonkin’s work, and Gillen intends to try and raise finance to support him while studying. Spencer has prepared a glossary of Aboriginal words, which Gillen is to correct. Troubles (including a possible strike) on the Victoria railways.

169 9 May 1903. Development over Tonkin. W.E. Roth [q.v.] and his views on the Aboriginal problem. The Railway strike has begun. “Moonta is a stronghold of labour”.

170 31 May 1903. The railway strike has ended. Gillen's praise of Irvine, the Prime Minister of Victoria. Comments on the reactions of other State governments to the strike. The State Governorship, why should it not be given to a local man? Will the Commonwealth of Australia civil servants have to retire at 65? His views on the State school system.

171 10 June 1903. Tonkin has been awarded a free place at Art School but how is he to keep himself? Spencer has bought Tonkin’s picture “The Maniac”.

172 18 June 1903. Spencer has sent Gillen a very interesting letter from Frazer. The reincarnation theory among tribes with maternal descent. A tribe from which information could be obtained in the vicinity of Anna Creek. Plans for a possible three month joint expedition. Gillen's views on Australian politicians, Kingston and Deakin. His views on the public service and the recent strike. He is against making a strike a criminal matter. His delight at Lord Salisbury‘s retirement and his own nationalist feelings. Parnell, Joseph Chamberlain, and the problem of Irish home rule. “Poor working man. According to a recent authority, 11 millions of the English people are in a chronic state of semi-starvation”. More about the planned expedition to northern Australia.

173 25 June 1903. Discussion of the meaning of certain native words. More planning of the expedition. Gillen’s views on the “Wyndham Bill”. The arrogance of the English Governing Classes on the Irish Problem! The policy all along has been “Repress, Repress, Repress”. His views on the Boer War.

174 9 July 1903. Gillen has received a first instalment of proofs. Planning arrangements for the expedition.

175 14 July 1903. Gillen sends a newspaper cutting claiming that Adelaide University is the best school of science in Australia. Free railway passes have been granted for the expedition.

176 22 July 1903. Gillen has been checking proofs.

177 29 August 1903. Gillen has checked through the proofs of their second book. He thinks it is written “in a lighter vein”.

178 1 September 1903. Gillen provides Aboriginal words for the publication. 

179 7 September 1903. An Adelaide bookseller has offered to buy the right to reproduce Gillen and Spencer’s photographs of Aboriginal ceremonies for postcard reproduction. Spencer has been appointed president of the Professorial Board in Melbourne. Details of personalities concerned in the Ramsay Smith Enquiry.

180 28 September 1903. Gillen has been ill. Another letter to Spencer from Frazer. He hopes Frazer will not prune the book of purple patches. More about the Tonkin problem. Ramsay Smith has been re-instated. The appointment of a new Commonwealth Chief Justice.

181 16 October 1903. Gillen has received photos taken on the expedition. No progress on making art training for Tonkin possible. His illness.

182 [Unknown day and month] 1903 “Monday night”. Gillen has gone to Adelaide to see the Commonwealth Inspector about staff reductions. There may be reductions in pay. He thinks he has solved the Tonkin problem. He is to have an operation.

183 28 October 1903. Gillen is feeling better since his trip to Adelaide, but has been disappointed about his transfer to a post in North Adelaide. “Everyone, politicians and civilians in Adelaide are sick of the Commonwealth”. News of mutual acquaintances. 

184 5 November 1903. Gillen is about to go to Adelaide for his operation.

185 10 November 1903. Gillen has had a wire from Spencer

Gillen’s letters to Spencer cease here.

The box also contains (either in original or a copy) letters from Spencer to Gillen:

28 July 1904. Spencer has been trying to help Gillen over certain cuts he has suffered in allowances. He comforts him by saying that his claims to the better post will be recognized when one becomes available. Spencer has been having a very busy term “3 or 4 days a week I have been at it from 9-6.30, teaching without a break and one evening a week a lecture from 8-10 p.m”. Also a Senate meeting one day from 4.30-11.15 p.m. Obstructionism within the Senate. The clash between State and Commonwealth over honours granted by the Home Authorities. Spencer's views on the reasons why his work has not been recognized. Spencer is against democratic government “such as we have out here in Australia”. Letter continued on 3 August 1904. He has got his new scheme on Entrance Examinations through the University Senate.

6 August 1904. An interview with “our swollen-headed, muddy-minded, Minister of Education”. Spencer has seen reviews of  Northern Tribes in The Argus and The Age. He deplores too much mention of his name and not Gillen's.

(Miscellaneous) A wrapper of a letter.


Spencer papers Box 3

Letters to Howard Goulty from Spencer

A series of letters describing Oxford in the 1880s. Letters from Baldwin Spencer to his friend Howard Goulty over a period of 20 years between 1880 – 1900. They had studied together at Owens College, Manchester prior to these letters. The letters are transcribed in full here [pdf]. Extracts from the following letters, together with biographical information are given here

17 October 1880. Both Spencer and Goulty are facing exams. Spencer is despondent about Oxford exam that he is taking, particularly about the Physics and Physiology papers. An interview with the examiner. “This is such a grand place…”

28 August 1881. Plans for a visit to Goulty.

8 September 1881. Thanks for a week stay with him.

5 October 1881. Spencer is in Oxford for an entrance exam. Comments on exam papers: grammar, Latin, prose, mathematics. The “viva” is still to come. (The end of the letter is missing).

17 October 1881. Spencer has been successful, and is living at Exeter. “Everything is very strange”.

3 November 1881. Life at Oxford. The weather. An afternoon’s boating. An undergraduate breakfast party. “The conversation turned on such subjects as the girls of Oxford tobacconists shops”. The fate of “aesthetics” up at Oxford. Spencer's reading programme. He is taking things a little easily, 4 hours work a day and a little harder in the last part (of the year). “6 hours per diem is verygood at Exeter. 7 hours denotes a “smug”, anything beyond that is considered the mark of a madman”.

11 November 1881. Spencer's daily programme of work, ending at night with “some Swinburne”. Spencer had thought of reading history but came to the conclusion to devote himself to science alone.

18 November 1881. Accepting an invitation to stay with Goulty. “All my real work must be done in the vac.” His attention is turning increasingly to science. The lack of relevant books. Comments on “Ernest Maltravers” and “Rienzi” which he has been reading. Musical activity at Exeter.

7 December 1881. Spencer is facing end of term exams and viva voce. Looking forward to his visit to Goulty.

10 25 December 1881. Sending Christmas wishes.

11 3 January 1882. Sending a “birthday book” to the Goulty family.

12 8 February 1882. Spencer is back at Oxford. Morning chapel and cold baths. A reference to the Stapledon Debating Society at Oxford.

13 2 March 1882. Exeter has gone up four places in the “Torpids”. Spencer has been to a lecture on “Fugues”, the Professor of Music. He is to move a resolution in favour of “Local Option” at the college debating society.

14 8 March 1882. News of family and friends. Spencer would favour the discarding of exams, if that were practicable. The Oxford (or Cambridge) exams are less unsatisfactory than the Preceptors.

15 16 March 1882. Spencer has seen the sub-Rector and got off “Collections”. He is returning to College to read through the vacation.

16 21 March 1882. Spencer has met Goulty’s sisters at Alderley Station. His time is “very short and fully occupied”. He is to give a lecture at his home and invites Goulty to come and spend the night. He has been playing football.

17 28 April 1882. A hurried note form Spencer. He has sent flowers to Goulty's sister Emily. “Harry Bowman” is safely through his examinations. Spencer has dined at Keble with “Fairbrother” and old Owens College man. He has been playing tennis.

18 9 May 1882. Everyone at Oxford has been full of Irish news (the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish), whose sister is the wife of the Warden of Keble. “The great majority of the men are terribly bitter against Gladstone, and as to Chamberlain, he would have a very warm time of it were he to come here”. “For myself I admire Gladstone if possible more than ever”. Further remarks about domestic politics, including some mild anti-Conservative sentiments. “Lord Salisbury when he comes into power will suit these men exactly”. Congratulations to Goulty on passing well in political economy. Description of a “stand-up” or a “Perpendicular” evening dress entertainment given by the wife of the Rector of Exeter. “Such agony and such a delightful way of spending one’s evening”.

19 19 May 1882. Exeter College has gone Head of the River. Description of the undergraduate celebrations. Spencer is anxious about forthcoming examinations. “It has been awfully amusing to see the Conservatives endeavouring to make party capital out of the O’Shea Parnell business”. More about Irish problems. The likelihood of a split in the Irish Camp. Spencer has really been too busy this term to take much interest in politics.

20 2 June 1882. Apologies from Spencer for not writing enough. Description of a viva voce in divinity. Description of more howlers. The sooner vivas are done away with the better. Spencer's plans for the Vacation. “I shall be reading for my London Exam all day”.

21 7 June 1882. Inviting Goulty to come and stay at Spencer's home. Spencer is reading hard for “London”. His “viva” is to be on the following Friday. (Note: A piece has been cut out with scissors from pages 3-4 of this letter. The extract appears to refer to a possible visit from Goulty's sisters.)

22 9 June 1882 Spencer has got through Mods, “after a delightfully short and sweet viva”. He is going to visit Goulty at Alderley Edge.

23 26 June 1882. Arrangements for mutual visits and for meeting friends.

24 4 August 1882. (Written from various places during a journey) Spencer is on holiday (?) in East Anglia. Apologies for failure to write. He has been “sketching”. He has not enjoyed reading “Verdant Green”, but did enjoy “Mary Barton”. Comments on Shorthouse’s “John Inglesant”, which was a present from Goulty and others.

25 6 September1882. Arrangements for a stay with Goulty. 

26 14 September 1882. Birthday wishes to Goulty. Spencer feels “very dissatisfied indeed with present progress…”, and concerned that he may have to wait 5 or 6 or even 7 years longer before he does something.

27 19 October 1882. Spencer has settled down at Oxford and has begun real hard work, very different to that of last year. He plans to keep 1 or 1.5 hours a day for exercise and Sundays for “general reading”. More comments on “John Inglesant”. Spencer “can never understand second marriages; that is if the first marriage be such as it ought to be”. “There is nothing in the book which would help anyone in the matter of dealing with lower classes…”

28 28 October 1882. Spencer has been working very hard, with afternoons spent at “the Museum”. How he plans to organize his work. Account of heavy floods in Oxford. “From Magdalen Bridge nothing is to be seen save water”. Account of a sermon from Jowett. “He quite gave up belief in the Divinity of Christ”.

29 12 November 1882. Apologies for remissness in correspondence. Account of a walk from Oxford to Dorchester, passing through Nuneham Courtenay. Another “stand-up” party at the “Rector’s” (Exeter) “they is wretched institutions” [sic].

30 18 November 1882. Spencer is going down to Oxford early as, “Hartog has at last got his professorship”; and Owens College, Manchester, have asked Spencer to fill his place until Christmas. He must read hard so as to be able to cope with the Manchester job. Spencer has been to hear Moody and Sankey, “the latter is simply vulgar though he has a good voice: Moody is at all events in earnest”.

31 24 December 1882. Apologies for not sending a Christmas card. Spencer is not sending any that he has not painted himself.

32 30 December 1882. Sending Goulty best wishes for the New Year and for success in his examination. Spencer returned to find himself alone in Exeter, so has gone into lodgings.

33 12 January 1883. Asking Goulty for advice. “Despite the indisputable fact of this being facile princeps amongst the universities of the world, there is nevertheless no means of pursuing the study of physiology within its “walls”. Spencer had wanted to take this subject for the London B.Sc. But now cannot do so and plans to take “Logic and Philosophy or whatever they call it” instead. “It is not good telling me I can’t do it in the time for I’m going to”. Goulty is asked for hints as to what to read and how to do it.

34 17 February 1883. A candidate for a scholarship at Brasenose College, Spencer has a high opinion of “good classical men who are the best read all round”. Spencer's views on George Eliot’s novels. He likes “Middlemarch” best, and “The Mill on the Floss” next best. “I fear Ruskin is not going to lecture this term ...”. 

35 24 February 1882. The end of term is approaching. Spencer is “thankful as 8 weeks of hard work (that is hard for Oxford) is quite enough at a stretch in such a climate as this”. A discussion in Manchester with Wilkins about the grammar school and its methods. Spencer is mildly critical of “the system” and its “cram”. The sufferings of science men who get no time for exercise.

36 3 March 1883. Spencer has been representing his friend Halford Mackinder at the poll for the presidency of the Oxford Union. Spencer himself has been elected Treasurer/Secretary of the University Science Club. An argument between Spencer and Goulty about “design” in nature. (The second sheet of this letter is missing.)

37 5 March 1883. Mackinder has “got in with ease”. More about the “design” argument. Spencer takes the evolutionist position and rejects Goulty's argument for the existence of a God, “it seems to me that we are simply landed in the agnostics’ position… I don’t think our religious “beliefs” will stand very much analysis”.

38 21 April 1883. (First sheet or sheets of this letter are missing) Spencer has been reading Sidgwick’s “Ethics” and “Bain”; this combined with geology, comparative anatomy and “an Oxford Exam this term” is giving him enough to do. The Science Club is giving a Conversazione this term. Spencer expects a visit to Oxford by Goulty.

39 29 April 1883. (First sheet is missing) Spencer has been reading the text of the lecture, which Ruskin gave last term, “… the English in parts is really beautiful”. Ruskin is to give three more this term. Spencer finds Sidgwick “very enjoyable but indefinite; he says nothing settled, but talks in a general kind of way”. 

40 5 May 1883. (First sheet or sheets of this letter are missing)…The Prince of Wales has been visiting Oxford. “Everything passed off swimmingly even down to the shying of lump sugar on to the cads below my window”. Salisbury, Northcote, Northbrook, Cranbrook, etc. have been on view. Ruskin is beginning his lectures on modern English art again, the first on “Burne-Jones and Watts”. 

41 13 May 1883. Eights weeks at Oxford. Exeter are still Head of the River. Glorious weather to make up for recent abominable weather. Spencer’s plans for the long vacation, hard work until the London exam comes on. “Mackinder and I have just been having a long chat about what we intend to do in life”. Mackinder wants a more or less public life. Spencer the more or less quiet life of a scientific man.

42 27 May 1883. Spencer has been very busy, including taking “a slight Exam”, the first of his final ones. He did badly through not having worked for it. His dread of the coming viva voce. Howlers committed by an examinee in theology. Arrangements for the Science Club Conversazione. Hopes for a meeting and a chat concerning things in general “and one in particular”.

43 21 July 1883. Cryptic references to problems facing Goulty. Spencer is looking forward to beginning “life in earnest”. Spencer has lunched with the rector of Exeter. “I should hardly call them intellectuals”. He has dined with several dons, including Bywater, who “is supposed to be about the cleverest don in Oxford” and is looked up to by German scholars. A vivisectionist argument with a don’s wife. In Convocation a bill to give Burden-Sanderson money for his new labs was nearly thrown out by anti-vivisectionists.

44 10 November 1883. Spencer and Mackinder have both been ploughed. “Our time has been too much taken up with other things” and other reasons. “However, it is over and I am now beginning to read for an exam here in Chemistry”. A lecture by Ruskin and Spencer's comments on his egotistical style. Criticism of “those buildings erected by the University for the torture of her sons” i.e. the Examination Schools. Spencer has been taking part in discussions, which interfere with his sleep.

45 17 November 1883. Spencer's difficulty in finding time to write letters. His plans to keep Sundays free throughout his life. His concern with social work and the condition of the poor, “We may be drifting on to a great revolution”. Spencer wants more time to read and think about these things. Beautiful weather in Oxford. Spencer wants to sit down and draw, but has gone to cram up on chemical formulae, “which of all occupations is about the one I most abhor”. Details of Spencer's ploughing in the London exam. He failed in “Moral Science”.

46 25 November 1883. Spencer is feeling rather “muddled” and tired of this term. The problems occupying Oxford attention at present include vivisection and “The Social question – What is to be done with and for the lower classes”. There is much talking and lecturing about this in Oxford. A great movement is coming before long, and “we shall be able to do our share in the work”. A description of the “University Settlement” idea. It is really a modified form of Socialism…” “We shall yet see Oxford at the head of a new and this time social movement”.

47 4 February 1884. Spencer and MacKinder have just been to a lecture by Tylor on “The Arts of Civilisation”. The value of the practical part of his lecture. Spencer has been doing a little “original investigation”. The danger of becoming too much involved in detail. More about the vivisection dispute. Country persons are being whipped up by the anti-vivisectionists. Spencer has been to lectures by Hyndman and Morris on “Constructive socialism” - descriptions of their plans and objectives. Spencer's views, “Injustice has been done in the past and doubtless will have to be done in the future to landowners before things are at all satisfactory”. Spencer would like to see co-operation take the place of competition.

48 12 February 1884. The death of a mutual friend’s father, and the problem of daughters left with insufficient means. A visit from Goulty is expected. The vivisectionists debate was won by the vivisectionists by a large majority, “quite contrary to expectation”. Spencer's views on the problem.

49 18 February 1884. Goulty's coming visit and the problems of travel by rail. Spencer has been to a second lecture by Tylor. He does not agree with all of Tylor’s views on the sequence of stone, bronze and iron in primitive culture. This may be due in part to “being prejudiced beforehand”.

50 14 May 1884. “Schools” are approaching. Spencer's expectations for a First or Second; “in an Oxford exam where beyond a certain point of necessary knowledge, it is not mere facts which pay”. (The second page of sheet 1 is missing) Mention of Eights week, Exeter is head with fair prospects of remaining so. The pleasures of Summer term. The Australian cricket team and an expected defeat for Oxford.

51 22 May 1884. Excitements of the Australian cricket match. (The second page of sheet 1 is missing) A reference to a riot by an Oxford mob. A concert in the Fellows garden. Spencer is getting anxious about “Schools”.

52 13 June 1884. Spencer has got a first. A “most enjoyable viva” as Moseley and Sayce simply congratulated me “on the excellence of my work”. He is returning next term as Moseley has offered him a little work, and he hopes to get pupils to coach.

53 2 December 1884. Apologies for a gap in correspondence. Spencer has had “almost more work in Oxford that I could get through”. The Science Conversazione has taken place in the University Museum. The strictness of the British customs officials. Moseley has offered Spencer a post as assistant. He has accepted, and will have to “superintend the men’s work in the laboratory and give courses of lectures as well”.

54 19 January 1885. Spencer's negotiations with Exeter College about the continuance of his scholarship. He has been working at Manchester with Marshall. Unfavourable comparison of the “spirit of work” at Oxford with that at Owens College. “Perhaps the best thing is a mixture of both places”.

55 29 January 1885. Spencer is remaining in Manchester, probably until half-term at Oxford, as he does not feel fully fit. More about his work with Marshall; problems of the latter’s scepticism. His father’s plan for Goulty's future as a solicitor. A proposed meeting.

56 22 February 1885. Spencer has moved to lodgings at Museum Terrace, “somewhat out of the general run of lodgings, that is a good distance from college”, but he needs to be near the museum. Spencer has got two pupils, one of whom is a “she”. He would prefer not to have her since she cannot be coached without the annoyance of having a chaperon in the room. He will probably get about 5 pupils every year, which will mean an addition of £50 to his income.

57 8 March 1885. Spencer has a good deal of Museum work to do in the vacations, arranging the zoological collection etc., and he will be busy preparing for his lectures. A forthcoming debate in Convocation at which the Vivisection issue will arise.

58 18 March 1885. Inviting Goulty to tea.

59 27 March 1885. News of family and friends.

60 7 April 1885. Spencer has been seeing a lot of Bourne [q.v.]. “Coming in contact with public school men makes one see more clearly than ever the very distinct advantage of a public school life and training”. The Cohens (Julius and three sisters) have been in Oxford and Spencer's work programme was interrupted.

61 26 April 1885. Spencer's views on the problems of Herat. Views on the state of British politics. Spencer's lecturing has begun. Ruskin has resigned his Professorship in consequence of the recent pro-vivisection vote in Convocation, “…his second term of the Professorship here has not been at all a success. He has outlived his power”. The Summer term at Oxford. Spencer's few relaxations from work.

62 9 May 1885. News of Goulty's future prospects and family. Failure of a scheme to relieve “poor science men” of one classical exam, “which acts as a heavy drag on our work”. “These wretched people here” have defeated it by one vote.

63 16 May 1885. News of Friends and Eights Week. Exeter College has not done so well, but “my connection with the place is practically severed now”.

64 4 June 1885. Spencer envies Goulty his trip to the Welsh mountains. Oxford climate, the effects of hot weather. Spencer is beginning “some special original or quasi-original work which Ray Lankester suggested to me, and the great man promised to publish it for me”. “Hoyle” has been working hard and ought to get a good place soon. 

65 21 June 1885. Spencer has been helping Moseley and Tylor in London with superintending the removal of “a very valuable Anthropological collection given to the Varsity from South Kensington. The task of labeling items, a heavy’s day’s work for all three” [this is the transfer of the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum]. Spencer's views on Tylor and Moseley. Tylor himself “is of course the best anthropologist in England and a very nice man indeed”. Moseley “really knows considerably more concerning anthropology than even Tylor”. Moseley is “a very remarkable man”, but “too narrow in some ways”. Marshall has got his F.R.S. Hartog has got a fellowship of £400 p. a. in Ireland. News and views of British politics. The Government has gone out. There is …”little doubt that Parnell will rule the next Parliament”. Spencer's long walk in Surrey.

66 2 July 1885. Goulty is starting life as a lawyer. Spencer's plans for the summer vacation. News of old friends from Owens College. “We have today finished bringing here the Pitt-Rivers”.

67 21 July 1885. More about Spencer's vacation plans. A trip to Scotland and the Orkneys. Another to Germany and Switzerland.

68 6 August 1885. Details of Spencer's Scottish trip. News of friends.

69 9 August 1885. Spencer has been reading geology with a view to the Burdett-Coutts Scholarship at Oxford. He has taken charge of all the elementary work in his department, lecturing and practical. Spencer wants Goulty to make a will for him and gives details of his intentions. Spencer and a publishing venture, “a series of drawings with letterpress descriptive of them” on “embryology of the chick”. Financial details. The idea was suggested to Spencer by Lankester and Moseley.

70 26 September 1885. Spencer has been exceptionally busy and will be busier still when the term begins. (NOTE: some passages apparently referring to a “she” have been inked out of this letter). Goulty's advice is wanted regarding an invitation to read a paper on evolution at Chorlton Road.

71 18 October 1885. News of old Owens College men. Oxford and Cambridge rivalries. References to internal political issues. Evolution, and the non-viability of ideas of “a special creation”. The contribution of Darwinism. The possible identity of “what you call “the will of God” and we – “the laws of Nature”.

72 31 October 1885. Spencer sympathises with Goulty about the grave illness of his mother.

73 13 November 1885. Spencer's condolences on the death of Goulty'‘s mother.

74 15 November 1885. Spencer is unable to attend the funeral, but sends more condolences.

75 23 November 1885. The business of life at Oxford. Spencer has attended lectures by Drummond, “a man of considerable power with a splendid voice…” 

76 29 November 1885. Disappointment over election results in Manchester, depression among the Liberals. A scene of the wildest excitement at the “Union” as the results came in. Another Tory government will not be unwelcome to Spencer, “they will put India in a proper state and get something like order in our foreign affairs”. Lincoln College is to offer a fellowship in Biology; Spencer considers his chances. Ray Lankester will be examining. (NOTE: a piece has apparently been cut out of the second sheet of this letter). Spencer is to go to the Royal Society dinner as Moseley’s guest. Huxley will make his retiring speech as president.

77 10 December 1885. More election news. Spencer's views on the composition and leadership of the Liberal party. His preparations for the Lincoln fellowship exam. News of friends.

78 28 January 1886. The fellowship exam. Spencer's views on his chances. Views on the political situation, “I for one regret the turning out of Salisbury”. “I fancy that before long we shall begin to want a little less pure party spirit in politics”. Spencer describes himself as more or less a moderate Liberal.

79 31 January 1886. Spencer has heard privately that he has got the fellowship.

80 ?7 February 1886. Official news of elections to the fellowship. 50 letters to be acknowledged and 6 dinners in succession. “…they appear to be a very happy family at Lincoln and very unconventional”. An account of “common room” life, “…very little drinking and much more reading is done”.

81 27 February 1886. Sickness among Spencer's friends. He has been for a long walk with Moseley and discussed the possibility of going abroad.

82 5 March 1886. News of sickness among friends. (NOTE: second page or sheet of this letter is missing)

83 18 March 1886. Spencer has been cramming and sitting for “the Burdett-Coutts”. He thinks he has done badly. “This evening I am enjoying deeply the feeling of having put behind me my last exam”. He has crammed for exams for 13 years and now wants to settle down to some real work. His future programme. Gladstone and “Home Rule”.

84 20 March 1886. Spencer has “missed the Burdett-Coutts”.

85 14 May 1886. Spencer describes his temporary rooms in Lincoln. Conversation at High Table.

86 25 May 1886. A dinner at Christ Church, “best Burgundy and “47 Port”. Spencer's views on wine snobbery. An anecdote of Pusey and the High Church. A dinner at New College and talk with Sylvester, the great mathematician. A comment on Mark Pattison. A dinner at the Rector of Lincoln’s, where Spencer met Max Müller. He is at work on “the Lizard’s eye”.

87 12 June 1886. (NOTE: First sheet or sheets of this letter missing). News of Dill, Bodington (Head of Leeds College), Stroud and Smithells. Spencer has read a paper at the Royal Society. “It is a strange place – no one seems to take much interest in anything…”. He was disappointed at the Royal Academy Show. A picture by Burne-Jones “is far and away the most noticeable”.

88 27 July 1886. Troubles in Spencer's rooms in College. A heavy rainstorm: mice. His planned programme for a visit to Europe.

89 18 October 1886. Spencer is back in Oxford and extremely busy. “We are putting up a new building as a temporary laboratory”. Continuous rain in Oxford. “We are just about to try and get our statutes changed here in Oxford, if which attempt be successful, it will be possible for fellows to marry…”. Likely opposition from King, the Bishop of Lincoln.

90 24 October 1886. Spencer has produced an article on the extra eye of lizards, which “is attracting some little attention among biologists”. Interesting guests at the Lincoln College High Table, “With such men as these I always feel almost depressingly ignorant”.

91 16 November 1886. Spencer has applied for an appointment (the Chair at Melbourne), but he thinks his chances are practically nil. It will probably go to a man who is now in New Zealand.

92 6 December 1886. “Nothing is definitely settled about Melbourne yet”. Spencer knows he is among 5 names sent forward by the English Electors. His interview with Sir Graham Berry, the Agent-General for Victoria, “he looked as much as to say “who the ___ are you, sir”.

The correspondence now ends except for a final letter written from Melbourne and dated 10 July 1900 ( i.e. a gap of 35 years).

93 10 July 1900. (Melbourne) Spencer is glad to have been made F.R.S. He has reached the age of 40 but hopes “to be able to get through a good deal of work yet”. News of old Owens College friends. Australia as a field for work, especially in zoology and anthropology. Plans for an expedition to the north with Gillen. Comments on Melbourne as a city. (Continued on 16 July 1900). Comments on the situation in Australia. “We shall undoubtedly have a protective policy, and there are big questions to be worked out in regard to the opening of the more tropical parts.” “…the Australian working man dislikes black and yellow men, and if he be not willing to do anything himself takes good care that no one else shall do it”.

94 Spencer to Goulty. Miscellaneous

NOTE: Spencer’s correspondence with Howard Goulty is outlined on pages 17-23 of Spencer’s Last Journey, edited by R.R. Marett and T.K. Penniman (Oxford, 1931).

Letters from Andrew Lang

See here for biographical information about Lang (1844-1912) (external site). Lang did not give the year, in addition to the day and moth, when writing his letters. On some letters the year 1899 has been added by another hand (?Penniman). It seems likely that letters Lang 9 - 12 precede 1-8. The letters have been transcribed [pdf].

16 January 1899. A reference to an earlier letter to which Spencer, who is on his visit to England, had replied. Lang’s views on Scottish “churinga” [tywerrenge] and other antiquities. Lang is to review Spencer and Gillen's book (Native Tribes of Central Australia).

8 April 1899. Thanks for a letter dated 22 February from Spencer. Enclosing two rough sketches of stones in the Edinburgh Museum.

7 May 1899. Lang’s criticism of Frazer’s theories. He is “open to conviction, but unconvinced”. Differences in views on the “great spirit” of the Arrernte.

9 May 1899. More criticisms of Frazer’s theory of the primitiveness of the Arrernte. Spencer’s book is quoted in support.

12 June 1899. More criticisms of Frazer and Spencer, as set out in Lang’s article in The Fortnightly, June number. “My objections may be rubbish, but they are such as occur to the natural man”. A Japanese object Lang has found in a friend’s rooms at Oxford. Can Spencer help with explanation?

24 July 1899. Thanks for a letter from Spencer. Lang accepts a correction from Spencer in his book and will inform those interested. Queries about totemic groups, and the many different levels of marriage institutions.

3 August 1899. Thanks for tywerrenge and bull-roarer received. More discussion about totemism and exogamy. “I cannot see that Frazer’s theory of the origin of totemism is probable”. Queries about the theory of “virgin birth”.

7 September 1899. Sending the (Edinburgh) Museum’s thanks for Spencer’s presentations.

Lang’s letters to Spencer stop here, for 3 months, but the envelope also contains 3 letters from Lang to G.A. Macmillan of Macmillan and Co., which must have been passed to Spencer. (see No. 12).

5 November 1899. From Lang (South Kensington) to Macmillan. Thanks him for proof sheets of Spencer’s book, up to p. 544. His theory about the parallel between Australian tywerrenge and objects just found in Scotland. Could a note and sketch be added at the end of the book?

10 16 November 1899. From Lang (St. Andrews) to Macmillan. More details of the Scottish discoveries. Are they fakes? No, although the “official antiquaries” will say so.

11 2 December 1899. From Lang (St. Andrews) to Macmillan. More about the discoveries. Spencer ought to come and see them for himself.

12 16 December 1899. From Lang to Spencer. Telling Spencer that Macmillans have let him see the proofs of the book. Again urging the correspondence between tywerrenge and the Scottish discoveries. Asks for information about the spirit whose voice is represented by the bull-roarer.

13 From Lang to Spencer. Miscellaneous.


Spencer papers Box 4

Correspondence with Henry Balfour

Find out more about Henry Balfour here. These letters are available here in transcription [pdf]

10 May 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has just written to Tylor about his own and Gillen’s work, following the Horn expedition. Description of the material assembled. Tylor has been asked to help; if he cannot, would Balfour do so? “Oxford is, to me, a most depressing place to live in, despite its great attractions”. A query about the “concentric circle of ornamentation” of Central Australian natives.

20 September 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Thanks Balfour for his letter and offer of help. (NOTE: this letter is missing). Difficulties of finding a publisher. Spencer's views on the comparative stature of leading anthropologists. Criticism of John Ferguson McLennan. The difficulties facing a woman anthropologist, men will not reveal secrets to her. The poverty of Australian collections in “art” material. A reference to W.E. Roth [q.v.] and his work in the far north.

2 December 1897. (Continued on two dates in Jan. 1898) From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Praise and criticism of Roth and his work in Queensland. Spencer is working on the book with Gillen, Macmillans have offered to publish it. Spencer's collection of Central Australian objects. Haddon has returned to New Guinea. An admirable address by Howitt, and his range of knowledge. Fison and his way of dealing with “rare old philological cranks”. Comments on the Pitt Rivers Museum and its collection of Australian things.

18 August 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has not heard from Balfour for ages, and asks for news of Oxford, and in particular of Tylor. Is he ill? He has not replied to letters from Howitt and Spencer. Progress of the book. Praise of Frazer and the help he has given in revising proofs. Gillen’s important contribution. Criticism of Roth’s ideas about totems. Spencer has had a cable to say that Lankester’s former Chair at Oxford is vacant. He thought of applying but decided against it. Howitt has started writing a new book.

28 September 1898. From Balfour (University Museum, Oxford) to Spencer. Balfour's reply to No. 4 above. News of Oxford and the question of Lankester’s successor. The requirements for the post, and various candidates. His regret that Spencer has not applied. Views on Roth’s book. Balfour's delight with the specimens obtained from the Horn expedition. Has Spencer got information about Louis De Rougemont? Tylor is getting old and may forget things. “Tylor really is wonderful in a way”. The Museum’s need for photographs. The dangers of forming theories. “I prefer to collect and collate”. Anson of All Souls is to be the next Vice-Chancellor, but Balfour doubts if science means much to him. The British Association meeting at Bristol, and some “No. 1 size cranks”.

30 May 1902. From Balfour (Oxford) to Spencer. Congratulates Spencer on safe return from his trans-Australian journey, and its noteworthy achievements. “The Pitt Rivers Museum progresses favourably in spite of its meagre funds, but one badly wants information at first hand…”. Tylor is resigning the keepership of the University Museum, and that office will probably be abolished. 

28 August 1902. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Reply to No. 6 above. Spencer's account of his journey. The wide spread of “the reincarnation theory”. Roth has changed his former views on totemism, but is unwilling to state this: his great opportunities for ethnological work, and comparatively minor results. The range of objects Spencer has succeeded in collecting. Economic troubles in Australia caused by drought. The University of Melbourne accountant has embezzled £30,000. Spencer may be looking for another post.

6 January 1903 (continued 3 February 1903). From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has sent two boxes of specimens to Balfour, including a sacred pole. The difficulties of work in the Northern Territory. Critical remarks about Roth’s work. Spencer and Gillen have been busy on the final stages of their second book. Nostalgic memories of the Oxford “Science Club” of 1885 and 1886.

7 July 1913. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer modestly thanks Balfour for “the honour” proposed to be done to him. (A pencilled marginal note by Balfour explains that this refers to the incorporation of Spencer's name in the design of a stained glass window to be presented to Exeter College in commemoration of Exeter scientists). The major influences on Spencer are named: Moseley, Tylor and, Pater Frazer [sic]. The progress of Spencer’s work in Australia. His collection of stone implements. The possibility of a visit to the UK.

10 7 January 1914. From Spencer (Morleys Hotel, London) to Balfour. Inviting Balfour to come to the Royal Society for lunch and a discussion.

11 3 February 1914. From Spencer (The Athenaeum, London) to Mrs Balfour. Thanking the Balfours for a two days’ stay at their house in Headington. Spencer has been to Manchester, where they gave him a degree and a most gorgeous gown.

12 22 April 1914. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Arrangements for Balfour's trip to Australia, he is to stay with Spencer (Balfour was going to attend the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Melbourne).

13 30 August 1914. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has been packing prints etc. for return to Balfour, after he had left Australia. Problems of the British Association meeting. “The war news is not altogether reassuring”. Recollections of Spencer's stay in Balfour’s house at Headington.

14 2 January 1915. From Balfour (Oxford) to Spencer. Balfour has been doing “Admiralty” work in France as well as his Museum work. “One doesn’t yet see daylight in the War… but in the long run we are bound to win”. Balfour is anxious about his material sent off from Australia, it may be lost. A collection of Australian implements has been put together for presentation to the Pitt Rivers Museum.

15 13 December 1915. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has still had no news from Balfour, whose box has still not been sent off. Australia is suffering from a very severe drought. A big drive for enlistment in the Forces. (Letter continued on 16 December 1915). A letter from Balfour has now arrived. Spencer has made additions to the collections to be sent to Balfour.

16 26 February 1915. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has been able to get Alfred Stephen Kenyon to visit his Museum. Kenyon has been in charge of the distribution of wheat in drought-stricken areas. Arrangements are in hand to send collections to the Pitt Rivers and other U.K. museums. Spencer's comments on the war. Spencer has nightmares about the Zeppelins dropping bombs on Oxford. He hopes to be “home” again within a year or two. (continued on 16 March 1915)

17 7 June 1915. From Balfour (Oxford) to Spencer. Correspondence has gone astray. Balfour is keenly awaiting the collections, which Spencer and Kenyon are sending. There is a type of stone axe Balfour particularly wants, “Stone implements fascinate me”. News of the war. “Oxford has a bare third of its full complement of undergrads, and these are largely physically unfit, Americans, or other non-combatants”. News of Oxford casualties. Balfour’s interest in fishing kites.

18 10 June 1915. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer has at last contacted Kenyon. His collection, and Spencer’s own collection are now being sent to the Pitt Rivers Museum. News of the Gallipolli casualties. The gloomy outlook. Australians and their attitude to “joining up”. The Australian Federal Government and its “labour policy”. Strikes and their effects.

19 28 January 1920. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Spencer refers to the long gap in correspondence, and asks if the box of collections sent on 4 January 1917 ever arrived. He has resigned from the University (of Melbourne) and hopes to devote himself to Museum work and ethnology. He is moving house out of Melbourne to the country. He doubts if he will see England again. Other Australian institutions have received large benefactions, but Melbourne has got nothing. 

20 4 August 1920. From Balfour to Spencer. Letters have evidently gone astray. Balfour acknowledges receipt of the collections. Kenyon’s series of Australian stone implements are particularly valuable. Another request for a particular type of stone axe. Balfour gives an account of his time at Oxford where “one never gets any credit for one’s labours unless one perpetually thumps a big drum and makes oneself generally unpleasant by blaring away on a trumpet”. News of Balfour’s health. He had damaged his heart when on war work. Meetings with Nina Stirling and Malinowski (who were informally engaged). “Oxford has returned to normal…and has now again the semblance of a University”.

21 24 September 1920. From Spencer to Balfour. The reply to No. 19 above. Details of Spencer’s resignation and the reasons for it. Details of his new country bungalow. News of his two daughters (Dorothy Young and Alline Rowan) and their marriages. Nostalgic recollections of the old “Pitt-Rivers collection, which gave him his first interest in anthropology. Memories of Moseley and Tylor. “Tylor … simply fascinated me.”

22 30 August [1923][date provided from internal evidence as Balfour returned from India in January 1923] From Balfour (Oxford) to Spencer. Balfour has made a trip to India so his correspondence has been neglected. His regrets at Spencer’s retirement, but pleasure that he has begun “a general account of Australian Aborigines”. Some suggestions for points to be included. “Things have been coming in to the Museum and I want another building badly”. Details of his trip to Nagaland with Hutton and Mills. The Nagas are “excellent savages”. Head hunting. Methods of fire-making. Balfour has written to George Pitt-Rivers to say how glad he would be to have his collection. Pitt-Rivers is “inclined to think that no one else can do decent work, but he may grow out of that”.

23 28 March 1924. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Balfour. Postcard in which Spencer says that he will write soon, and is sorry not to have been asked to sign Balfour’s nomination form for the Royal Society. The back of the postcard is a photograph of Spencer’s former house at Armadale, Melbourne.

24 6 December 1927. From Spencer (London) to Balfour. Spencer has sent Balfour a copy of The Arunta. His future plans for producing books. He will be returning to Australia in February. Balfour has been on a trip up the Amazon. (Note: This folder contains also: A cutting from a letter, which does not survive, from Spencer to Balfour, referring to a lunch with Edge-Partington and their joint appreciation of Balfour and his work).

25 18 January 1929. From Spencer (London) to Balfour. Spencer has got his Wanderings in Wild Australia through the press. His low opinion of British Association meetings, which seem to be “necessary evils”. His plans for his trip to Tierra del Fuego towards the end of February.

26 24 April 1929 (continued on 27 April 1929). From Spencer (Magallanes, Chile) to Balfour. Spencer’s account of his voyage out to Chile. Some discoveries on a rubbish tip in Descado. Drawings of arrow-heads and throwing stones. The local menus. A planned expedition in a small schooner to a little settlement.

27 16 July 1929. Balfour (en route to South Africa) to Spencer. Balfour's reply to No. 23, on which he has noted in his own hand. “This reply to Spencer’s last letter failed to reach him before he died on July 14 1929, and was returned to me”. Discussion of Spencer's finds near Magallanes. Plans for a meeting in Oxford after they both return from their trips.

28 (letter written between December 1900 and March 1900 from contents, but undated). From Balfour (Oxford) to Spencer. An undated letter in which Balfour wishes Spencer and Gillen well in their forthcoming expedition to central and northern Australia [1901-2 expedition]. (Black-edged writing paper may give a clue to dating). Suggestions as to points they should investigate. News of the University: Acland, Müller and Conroy have all died, new appointments and new buildings. “The Museum is becoming the most heterogeneous medley of architectural horrors that can be imagined”. “The Pitt-Rivers [Museum] jogs along gaily and I have had a fine year for accessions.” “Tylor and Thomson would send greetings if they were here”.

Letters from Patrick 'Paddy' Cahill

See here for biographical information about Cahill (1863-1923) (external source). Find transcriptions of these letters here

27 April 1913. Replying to a letter dated 23.03.1913 from Spencer. Cahill has heard of his “most successful” lecture in Melbourne. Sending specimens including bird skins, spears and other weapons. Specimens of black kangaroo were not in good enough conditions to send.

13 August 1913. Cahill has had two letters from Spencer. There has been an influenza epidemic in the Oenpelli region, Cahill has had to provide people with food and medicine. Cahill's building achievements, and plans for his own house. Difficulties of communication, “The boat is a month overdue”. Visits from a survey party and “The Royal Commission” to the Region. Cahill hopes for another visit from Spencer. 

9 October 1913. Thanking Spencer for 3 letters and for having sent two books on birds. Answers two questions put in writing by Spencer (Spencer manuscript attached). Sending black kangaroo specimens. News of mutual acquaintances. “A Survey Party is running a survey line along the river bank, right down to Aller-Wangii-Wan, with a view to putting settlers on the reserve at the lower end”. Elsie Masson has visited Oenpelli and was the first white woman Mrs Cahill had seen for nearly a year. A sumptuous meal given to the natives. Vegetables in the Cahills' garden. 

19 October 1913. Thanking Spencer for two letters and three pounds sent to buy things for the Aborigines. Advises him on the spelling to be used for certain native words. Cahill has gone to Darwin to get his wet season’s supplies and further instructions. Problems of mail and other communications. Troubles with the survey people. Cahill intends building houses for the local Aborigines. “If they give me a free hand, I am not afraid of the future of the natives in my district”. A school is opening in the village. Cahill has sent Spencer specimens. Details of a ceremony connected with the death of a man’s mother (Letter annotated in Spencer's hand).

30 October 1913. Sending answers to questions from Spencer. An encounter with two friendly natives from Bathurst Island, who asked after Spencer. Another encounter in a hospital. Cahill is indignant with Beckett who has visited Oenpelli and tried to get “underhand information” from the Aborigines. He is hoping to be the next Chief Protector. Cahill is building more houses and hopes to get everything ready for “Schooling”. Cahill believes Spencer is “the only one I know who thoroughly understands the natives and the right way to treat them”.

Spencer’s own handwritten list of this correspondence.

20 March 1914. Cahill has not been able to get or send mail to Darwin since October (1913). He cannot get recordings of Corroborees for Spencer, but has some specimens. He has distributed the gifts bought with Spencer's money. More building achievements. Natives and their weakness (laziness). News of personalities. A new plantation estate is being opened up. “It will help to keep the natives away from Burrundii and the Chinese there”. Details of the life of the local Aborigines. Cahill's work for their health and his plans for a school and other developments. Rainfall for “this wet season” was 50 inches, 22 inches less than the previous season. Note: p. 5 of this letter (no. 7) speaks of sending details of a death on separate page of this letter. This is not attached. However, there are attached: 7A Details in 4 pages of the Yam ceremony (Kul-Lor-Ree or Kul-Lore-Ri) and 7B  A paper in 3 pages headed Muraian and Kul-Lor-Ee boys. At the end of this paper, Cahill speaks of his suspicion that a letter of his has been opened.

23 March 1914. Sending some notes about the Muraian. The fate that overtakes those who break the Komali laws.

12 June 1914. Sending information about Muraian totems, and copies of rock drawings. A rare species of kangaroo. Cahill has had a successful interview and is to be allotted money and cattle for Oenpelli. Spencer has written a letter describing his trip to London, and Cahill compares life there with that in Oenpelli. He is planning a trip to Melbourne. He will welcome some lady visitors Spencer is sending. News of Cahill's fruit and vegetable gardens. Cahill has treated 27 patients in one day.

10 7 August 1914. The Cahill family has made a trip to Darwin. Difficulties of the journey. Mrs Cahill and her daughter had not left Oenpelli for 4 and a half years. Cahill is planning a 2 months buffalo shooting trip. Deaths among the Aborigines.

11 11 March 1915. Cahill has received Spencer's letter dated 3 October 1914 and a copy of his new book. Spencer's gift of £3 will be spent as he wishes (on the natives). Disappearance of an old native – a case which will interest Spencer. Mistakes made while Cahill was away. Visits from Aborigines, “each year takes a few of the oldest natives, and the worst of it is, so few children”. Cahill needs more power in order to protect the Aborigines. Parliament has at last given full powers to Dr Gilruth. Exceptionally low rainfall this year.

12 30 April 1915. Cahill has sent some recordings and specimens of birds. A rough trip to Burrundi. He has had success with dairy cows, which he brought to Oenpelli. The natives’ reaction to Spencer's present of money. Their first experience of milking cows. Cahill thinks very little of the Northern Territory.

13 26 March 1916. Cahill has had a visit from the Administrator and Judge, who brought his mail, the first he has had since November. Difficulties met in getting to Oenpelli. Spencer has shown kindness to Mrs Cahill who has been to Adelaide. Cahill is going to Burrundi to meet her. Many of the oldest natives have died. “In a few more years, there will be no chance of writing any reliable story of the Kakadoo tribes. There will be no old men left”. Details of Spencer's gifts of money to the natives. They have plenty and he ought not to send more. Cahill has done a lot of building, including a good house. He will try to collect information and will make notes for Spencer. (Continued from Darwin on 28 April 1916) A rough trip to Burrundi which took 58 hours in the saddle. Mrs Cahill is still in Sydney. Deaths among whites in Darwin.

14 24 May 1916. Cahill has returned to Oenpelli and found 250 Aborigines waiting in need of medicine and tobacco. Sending parcels of specimens. Vestey Brothers have completely changed the face of the country at Bullocky Point. “We have four or five motor cars plying for hire in Darwin, and the people think they are getting up to date”. Cahill family news.

15 21 July 1916. Congratulations to Spencer on his knighthood. Cahill is planning on return to Oenpelli to build a “cool room”, having obtained a freezing plant. He hopes to ship butter to Darwin. Details of plots against the Administrator of the Northern Territory. Medical work for the natives. A boy with a stick piercing his thigh.

16 18 November 1916. Sending a list of the Muriain totems, and a photo and details of the Wild Dog or Dingo store tradition. (Note: these are dated in Spencer’s writing “May 1916” but were attached to this letter No. 16). Cahill is busy with the freezing plant and other building work. Details of the diet provided for the natives. A visit from a missionary. His plans for educating the native girls. “ I believe in doing all that I can for the natives, but their future frightens me”. The ignorance of whites about Aboriginal beliefs.

16a The attachments referred to under 16 above.

17 10 October 1917. Details of the poisoning case in which Romula, a native, was chief actor. Reasons for the attempt to poison Cahill and his family: the ban on beating women and fighting, native resentment at their treatment by Europeans, even when well-intended.

18 10 October 1917. Cahill thanks Spencer (for having written a letter to The Bulletin in Cahill‘s defence. Mr Beckett and his accusation that Cahill had tried to poison him. Comments on Spencer’s recent trip to England, and on the dangers of sea travel in wartime. General interest in war news. Changes at Oenpelli. Ample supplies of fruit. Cahill has been developing the dairy business. Statistics of the number of natives who have been given medical treatment. Great variety of cases. Cahill has had a severe optical illness. He is sending some bark paintings, but will accept no payment.

19 30 June 1918. Spencer's last letter has taken 5 months to arrive. Native reaction to war news. News of Joe Cooper who has been shooting buffalo for Vestey Brothers. Trouble at local mission station. A visit to Romula (ref. the poisoning case, No. 17). News of other natives: a death and cure. Details of Cahill's medical work: 4,949 doses for influenza in 6 months. Cahill is going on 8 months leave in November.

20 19 September 1918. Cahill is sending specimens and gives details. Developments at Oenpelli. There is nearly a ton of butter in the cool room. “This, I should think, should prove that the N.T. [Northern Territory] can support dairy cattle”. Note: Spencer has noted on this letter “burrowing fish. Butter at Oenpelli”.

21 29 August 1919. Cahill gives an account of his leave. “Sydney struck us as a very dirty place after our visit to Melbourne”. Cahill was boycotted at Darwin for his defence of the late Administrator, Gilruth. Oenpelli had deteriorated in Cahill's absence. W.G. Stretton has been staying at Oenpelli.

22 27 July 1920. Cahill has had troubles at Oenpelli. Discusses the Royal Commission held at Darwin. Efforts to remove Cahill from Oenpelli because he stood by Gilruth during the riot in December 1918. Cahill's sympathy for the natives, an influenza epidemic among them. Sending specimens.

23 29 May 1921. Cahill has been busy moving 800 head of cattle. Criticism of Beckett and his project with sheep on an island at the mouth of the McArthur River. Minister Pointen of Home and Territories is to pay a visit. Strong criticism of S. Smith, the Acting Administrator. His harshness to a native who died. Two boats have come to Oenpelli last year on January 3, the second on November 30. Stagnation in the Northern Territory. A find of gold in the mountains, but unlikely to be large. The train service from Darwin used to be twice weekly, but it is now once a fortnight. News of Joe Cooper.

24 24 November 1921. Cahill and his wife are alone at Oenpelli. Their English stockman has left them. Details of specimens. “I am afraid that the natives are in for a rough time, under the present Administration”. Cahill may have to resign. A planned trip in the bush. A sumptuous meal given to some Aborigines. “The natives between Oenpelli and the Railway are dying and before long very few will be left”. W.G. Stretton has died. Details of the grave and tombstone. “No doubt there is a great deal to like in the natives, when one understand them”.

25 MiscellaneousAttached to these letters is a list in Spencer’s writing. This list does not correspond with the items actually remaining.

The letters should be read together with two from R.J. Cooper (Joe Cooper) and a letter and a telegram from “Solomon”, which are in the same envelope.

Letters from R.J. Cooper and “Solomon”


Find transcriptions of these letters here

27 November 1913. Sending materials which had been asked for by Spencer. 

10 December 1915. Sending a case of materials. Troubles about relations between mainland “boys” and Melville Island women, in which Cooper has become involved.

“Solomon” (head of the Larrakia tribe) to Spencer

16 November 1912. Letter dictated by Solomon to “Godfrey” at Kahlin Compound, Darwin. Thanks Spencer for having sent him a singlet. Asks for a black coat and black trousers. S. has rescued a white man from near drowning, but was given nothing return. “This place better now first time before Mr Godfrey come blackfellows drunk every night”. “I like see you come back quick”.

Telegram reading “Spose You get Thick Fella Blanket Now You Bring Alonga Me”.


Spencer papers Box 5

Correspondence between Spencer and James George Frazer

See here for biographical information about Frazer (1854-1941) (external site)See here for Part 1 (letters 1-40) [pdf] and Part 2 (letters 41 to end) [pdf].

12 July 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer describes how their joint work had begun. Gillen’s great interest in the Central Australian natives. Their expedition to the Arrernte tribe in summer 1896. Their method of working. Answers to particular queries raised by Frazer. The totem and its traditions. Probable origin in cannibalism. The tywerrenge. The three periods of Alcheringa. Spencer’s warm praise of Gillen. The need for much more research. Gillen lacks money. Spencer lacks time. They are looking for a publisher.

19 September 1897. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 1 above. Thanks Spencer for letter and photographs. The importance of the totemic system as described by Spencer. Frazer has been in touch with Macmillans who are willing to publish Spencer’s book.

27 September 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer writes to give further information on the totem questions, which Gillen has sent him. Can a man change his totem? Eating the totem. Association with totems other than one’s own. Mourning.

14 November 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has received No. 2 above and thanks Frazer for his help over finding a publisher. Errors in a pamphlet by “a certain Mr Squires”, describing a festival at which human flesh is eaten. “The book” is nearly ready to send. The ceremonies.

6 December 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer sends Frazer a copy of a letter he has written to Macmillans. Frazer is asked to decide whether any counter-proposal by Macmillans regarding illustrations is acceptable. W.E. Roth’s book “Notes on the North-West Central Australian Aborigines”. Further details of the ceremony in the Kangaroo totem. 5a A further copy of 6 December 1897. From Spencer (Melbourne) to George A. Macmillan.

13 January 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 4 above – Frazer is glad to have helped over publication and offers further help, for example over proof-reading. He asks for further information about blood-pouring ceremonies. Also about the treatment of homicides, the availability of sanctuaries and eating together as constituting friendship.

8 March 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Answers No. 6 above. Gratitude to the offer to read the proofs. Problems that will arise. Gives answers to the requests for information made in No. 6.

5 April 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Further details of publication of the book. The manuscript has been sent to Macmillans. Encloses the draft of a footnote to be added to the text.

5 May 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 7 above. Frazer prefers not to undertake the reading of proofs. Other publication details.

10 8 June 1898. From Spencer. (Melbourne) to Frazer. Further publication details. Gratitude for Frazer’s help.

11 30 June 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Publication details. Some proofs have already been sent back.

12 13 July 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 10 above. Praise of “the book”.

13 26 August 1898. From Frazer (Scotland) to Spencer. More details. The need to keep the descriptive side of anthropology entirely separate from the comparative and theoretical side.

14 30 August 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Reply to No. 12 above. More details.

15 15 September 1898. From Frazer (Scotland) to Spencer. Frazer’s hypothetical theory of totemism. If Spencer and others in Australia approve it, he may include it in the new edition of The Golden Bough. His firm rejection of a proposal by Tylor to omit certain passages from the text of Spencer and Gillen's book.

16 21 September 1898. From Frazer (Scotland) to Spencer. A postcard to say that on reconsideration Tylor has withdrawn his proposal for abridgment.

17 6 October 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Reply to No. 13 above. More publication details. Spencer is returning to the U.K. for 3 or 4 weeks and hopes to visit Frazer.

18 19 October 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Reply to No. 15 above. Gratitude for the action taken to resist abridgment. Spencer has heard nothing from Tylor.

19 20 October 1898. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Further reply in detail to No. 15. Spencer’s views on the theories posed by Frazer. Discussion (page 6) of Tylor’s theory that the souls of ancestors animate the totem animals or plants.

20 21 November 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 18 above. Welcomes Spencer to the U.K. and invites him to come and stay in Cambridge for a week-end.

21 28 November 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 19 above. Invitation for a week-end renewed. Frazer wants Spencer to meet Henry Jackson and Professor Ridgway. Suggests that Spencer’s views on totemism and its origins should be published during his stay, perhaps as a paper read to the Anthropological Institute. The importance of Spencer's views not yet seen by Tylor and Lang. Frazer's theory of totemism, its relation to exogamy. The order of evolution of human thought and practice is magic - religion - science.

22 8 December 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Frazer is awaiting Spencer’s visit. The Anthropological Institute has arranged a meeting to hear Spencer. Tylor has expressed the wish to do all he can “to show honour to Spencer”. Lang has confessed himself in a fog.

23 12 December 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Frazer has enjoyed the week-end visit. Lang is still in a fog.

24 16 December 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Frazer pays tribute to Spencer’s pioneering work in the field of totemism. He is content that his notes on the subject should be printed at the end of Spencer’s paper in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute.

25 17 December 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Macmillan (Macmillan & Co.) Enclosing some sheets of Spencer’s book sent to Frazer in error. “We had an interesting meeting at the Anthropological Institute on Wednesday. Spencer spoke very well and his lantern slides were excellent”.


26 28 December 1898. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Frazer states the case for and against his writing an article about Spencer’s book in one of the magazines. An absurd theory of Jevons. If agreed, he asks permission to use some of Spencer’s points.

27 5 January 1899 (erroneously dated 5 January 1898). From Spencer (at sea) to Frazer. Spencer is having a rough trip through the Mediterranean. He has written to Andrew Lang giving the most important points concerned with the totem hypothesis. Spencer has had a letter from Tylor “in which he does not approve of the new hypothesis at all”.

28 5 January 1899 (erroneously dated 5 January 1898). From Spencer (at sea) to Andrew Lang. The letter (presumably a copy) referred to in no. 27 above. “Whirlers” and “bull roarers”. The association of tywerrenge with individuals. The main points of the totemism hypothesis.

29 15 January 1899. From Spencer (at sea) to Frazer. Spencer has separately sent some notes on totemism for possible publication in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute. He now offers some supplementary observations. The views of Grey and Howitt. Spencer makes a modest assessment of his own stock of knowledge.

30 6 February 1899. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Reply to No. 29 above. Frazer is sending on Spencer's notes to the Anthropological Institute. He has written an article on the origin of totemism for The Fortnightly. Sub-totems. The problem of soul-transference. Exogamy. Frazer is glad to hear that Spencer is not standing for the Oxford Chair as his work in Australia is of supreme importance. Problems of finding a publisher for Miss Howitt’s manuscript. Frazer believes Tylor “may be a little sulky about totemism”. He has received a copy of Spencer’s book from Macmillans.

31 10 July 1899. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer apologises for his long silence. His pressure of work. He has succeeded the late Director of the National Museum of Victoria and has had to draw up plans for a new museum. He also has the secretarial work in connection with the meeting of the Australian Association (for the Advancement of Science). Spencer praises Frazer's two articles in The Fortnightly. He maintains his view on reconciliation of the totem, as against Frazer. His views on the origin of totemism are becoming firmer. It has no primary connection with exogamy. 

32 4 June 1900. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Frazer apologises for long delay in replying to No. 30. He has been working on the preparation of memorials to the governments of Victoria and South Australia, asking them to release Spencer and Gillen for a year’s further work among the tribes. Do Spencer and Gillen want to go? This would be “probably the finest piece of anthropological work that could be done in the world just now”.

33 27 July 1900. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Sending copies of the memorials referred to in No. 32. Frazer’s book (a new edition of The Golden Bough) is being printed.

34 4 September 1900. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. The memorials have arrived. The University Council has given Spencer a year’s leave. He and Gillen are most grateful. Problems of finance for the expedition. Plans for its route.

A telegram and letter dated 4 October 1900 from Spencer to Frazer are missing from the correspondence. (Note: the reference may be to 4 September, 1900, i.e. No. 34 above).

35 12 November 1900. From Frazer (Switzerland) to Spencer. Frazer is glad to hear that arrangements for the expedition are progressing well, and sends good wishes. Some suggestions for points to be studied. He is enjoying his holiday in Switzerland and Italy, but finds archaeological remains comparatively uninteresting besides the study of human beliefs and customs.

36 4 February 1901. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Reply to No. 35 above. Spencer thanks Frazer for a copy of the second edition of The Golden Bough. Enthusiastic praise. Points to be investigated on the expedition. The personal as opposed to the group totem. Problems of drought, and financial difficulties.

37 7 April 1901. From Spencer (Charlotte Waters) to Frazer. The expedition left Adelaide on the 15 March and is on its way. “Phonographic” and “cinematographic” records have been taken.

38 17 June 1901. From Spencer (Barrow Creek) to Frazer. Spencer and Gillen are working among the Kaytetye tribe. Important information about the eating of the totem.

39 1 July 1901. From Spencer (Barrow Creek) to Frazer. More information about the eating of the totem.

40 15 July 1901. From Spencer (Barrow Creek) to Frazer. A further progress report. Work is going slowly, but well.

41 6 August 1901. From Spencer (Tennants Creek) to Frazer. Work among the Warumungu tribe, who are conducting ceremonies. Different totemic practices as between them and the Kaytetye.

42 6 September 1901. From Spencer (Tennants Creek) to Frazer. Full details of totemism and ceremonies among the Warumungu. Spencer asks Frazer if he can do anything to get Gillen elected as an honorary fellow of the Anthropological Institute.

43 12 November 1901. From Spencer (Borroloola) to Frazer. The expedition is now a few miles from the Gulf (of Carpentaria). Similarity of tribal organisation and customs all the way from South to North. The idea of re-incarnation. The eating of dead men. No trace of belief in a deity.

44 7 June 1902. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has returned from the expedition and apologises for the long delay in writing. His load of work. Lecturing and supervision of the (National) Museum (of Victoria). Criticism of Crawley’s Mystic Rose. Mr Roscoe’s interesting work. Spencer's belief that the most primitive beliefs in Australia are to be found amongst the central natives, the Kaytetye. Details of ceremonies. Praise of Howitt, who has retired from the public service and is writing his ethnological work, he ought to be given a medal of the Anthropological Institute.

45 14 July 1902. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Replies to No. 44 above. Agrees with Spencer’s criticism of Crawley’s Mystic Rose. Criticism of Westermarck; “Let us try to look to the facts straight in the face, and damn public opinion”. Asks to be allowed to do the proof-reading of Spencer’s book when it appears. He is placing the suggestion of an Anthropological Institute medal for Howitt before the President.

46 23 July 1902. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer replies to a letter from Frazer complaining that he has not heard from him (a letter or letters appear to be missing from this correspondence). More about Spencer's load of work. His opinion of a paper by Cooke and one by Roscoe. Criticism of one of Roth's theory. Spencer believes that Frazer's theory of magic preceding religion is the true one. The problem of belief among the natives in a Supreme Being. Spencer, unlike Lang, can trace no such belief. Criticism of Crawley’s Mystic Rose, and its theory of danger involved in sexual intercourse.

47 19 August 1902. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer replies to No. 45, which has now arrived. More criticism of Crawley and Westermarck. More about the existence of religion among Australian Aborigines. The fallibility of the “All-Father” theory. “Sooner or later people will see that you are in the main right”. Howitt may be in danger of using unreliable evidence for his book. The errors of Powell’s views on totemism and exogamy. The danger of confusion in American ethnologists' terminology. A successful lecture in the Melbourne Town Hall.

48 17 March 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has still been hard at work on preparing the book. Howitt has nearly finished his book, but Fison seems to have given up ethnological work.

49 15 April 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has sent back the manuscript and illustrations of the book to Macmillans (Northern Tribes). He is not entirely satisfied with it. Macmillans have been asked to send Frazer the proofs. Description of the chapters. Frazer's advice is asked about chapter III, which deals with the social organisation, and is relevant to the theories of Crawley and Westermarck. There have been troubles in the University. The accountant has embezzled £55,000, and the professors have been attacked in the Press. Guarded criticism of Australia and its “most inordinate number of public servants”. Howitt’s book and the risks he has run in relying on second-hand accounts. Spencer asks for suggestions for a title for the book.

50 7 June 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer replies to a letter missing from the correspondence. Criticism of Lang and his theories, “We need not take him as seriously as he does himself”. Criticism of Haddon’s theory of the origin of totemism. Remarks on Roth and his work. Weaknesses of Howitt’s book, which partly relies on correspondents for information. Problems of terminology, which will arise if Tylor takes Amerindian totemism as the standard. Spencer invites Frazer’s criticism of their manuscript. Criticism of the search for a federal capital for Australia. Plans for further expeditions. “I like the sunshine here, but it is a woefully monotonous and philistinic land”.

51 13 June 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has been reading Lang’s “Social Organisation” and gives a warning against R.H. Mathews. The weakness of Lang’s theories. The need for Spencer to undertake more expeditions. The financial problems involved.

52 21 June 1903. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Suggestions for alterations to the draft book as a result of reading the proofs. Criticism of Lang’s theories.

53 6 July 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has received the first corrected proof pages. Asks for more corrections. Admires Frazer's style and depreciates his own. Spencer plans a visit to the Arabana tribe, where descent is counted in the female line, in order to disprove Lang’s theory. Frazer has suggested a title for Spencer's book (in a missing letter) and this is agreed.

54 14 July 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer acknowledges a third batch of corrected proofs. His gratitude to Frazer. Some further corrections. More about his planned trip to the 'Urabunna'.

55 24 July 1903 (Sheet 2 dated 27 July). from Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. More details of proof correction. A footnote added dealing with an error by Durkheim. More discussion of the limited knowledge on which Howitt’s work is founded. Discussion of Frazer's corrections.

56 21 August 1903. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Postcard recommending “The Northern Tribes of Central Australia” as the title of the book.

57 27 August 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer reports on his expedition with Gillen to the Arabana tribe. Methods of work. Enquiries into ceremonies and reincarnation. The tribe’s idea of the origin of the different totemic groups. Spencer is afraid of poaching on Howitt’s ground. Criticism of (Protestant) missionaries in so far as they claim to understand the natives; “No missionary, unless he is a Roman Catholic, at least this is true in Australia, ever really understands the natives”. (Continuation dated 31 August 1903). Spencer has received the last slips and hopes to return them all shortly. Regrets the suggestion to include a list of totems. The book will have to come out in 2 volumes, and he fears Macmillans will fight shy of future Australian work. 

58 8 September 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. More about corrections to the proofs. The danger of writing a kind of pidgin English. A possible origin of agriculture in the spitting out of grass seed from the mouth. Criticism of Lang and Durkheim’s views. “There is no such thing as an all-round primitive tribe”. A letter received from Tylor (included in this letter is a small red ink slip making a correction to the paged proof).

59 22 September 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Replies to a letter from Frazer dated 17 August 1903 (?), which is missing. Spencer has written the preface and adopted some of Frazer’s suggestions. More details of the proof corrections. A fundamental error by Lang in considering certain tribes (counting descent in the female line) as more primitive “all around”. Strong criticism of the “incorrigible" R.H. Mathews.

60 2 December 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Some slip proofs have been mislaid. Spencer hopes Frazer has corrected and sent them direct to the printer. A reference to an objection from Tylor, which seems to him to be trivial.

61 9 December 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. More about the missing proof pages. Criticism of an article by Durkheim referred to in a footnote on one of the missing pages. Strong criticism of the work (in anthropology) of “semi-educated German Lutheran missionaries”. A paper by Carl Strehlow only occupies 1.5 pages of. foolscap “but has more utter misleading nonsense packed into a small space than I recollect having come across before”. Andrew Lang has sent this paper to Spencer for perusal and comment before translation and appearance in Folklore. The fallacious idea of native belief in “a High God”.

62 15 (and 16) December 1903. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Again about the missing proof pages. The page proofs of the preface have arrived.

63 23 February 1904. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has just returned from a visit to New Zealand on medical advice. Details of an address on “Totemism in Australia”, which he prepared for the Anthropological Section of the AAAS, which was meeting in New Zealand. The importance of the “dramatic or ceremonial aspect” of totemism as distinct from the magical aspect. Frazer has sent Spencer two lots of manuscripts to look through. Spencer cannot agree with Crawley’s views on the origins of exogamy.

64 18 March 1904. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer apologises for delay in commenting on Frazer’s two manuscripts referred to in no. 63 above. He has become President of the Professorial Board, involving much routine work. He agrees with the paper concerned with religion, save for one or two points. Spencer feels less in agreement with Frazer’s paper on the meaning of certain ceremonies largely because it is supported by little evidence. A number of critical arguments are advanced. (NOTE: Frazer has side-lined in red ink Spencer’s summary of his critical arguments).

65 19 April 1904. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Replies to No. 63 above. Sympathy with Spencer for his excessive load of work, “How I wish you could be set free for anthropology entirely!” Praise of Spencer’s book. Criticism of Lang, who “seems to me to be sinking lower and lower and clutching at any straws that may break his fall”. Frazer is having trouble with the new edition of The Golden Bough. He thanks Spencer for his criticisms of his two papers (see no. 64 above).

66 15 August 1904. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Discussion of the belief in an “All-Father” among the natives, and Howitt’s views on this. Criticism of Lang and his review of Spencer’s book.

67 13 December 1904. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer describes the unfortunate circumstances of Fison and his family, and asks if it would be possible to get a Civil List pension for him. He gives a list of influential persons who would probably help, including Joseph Chamberlain and Professor Goldwin Smith. Would Frazer take it up?

68 5 February 1908. From Frazer (Cambridge) to Spencer. Asking for a copy of a paper by Spencer on exogamy and of any other of his occasional papers. Frazer is shortly moving to Liverpool, after which he means to raise funds to finance a Spencer-Gillen expedition to Western Australia (and to broach a plan for promoting anthropological research). Spencer’s comments and estimates of cost are wanted. Frazer is bringing out a new and much enlarged edition of Totemism, using much of Spencer’s material. Fison has died and Frazer has petitioned the Prime Minister on behalf of his widow and children.

69 14 March 1908. From Frazer (Scotland) to Spencer. Howitt has died and Frazer asks for facts about his early life and work for use in an obituary notice he is writing. Frazer’s petition on behalf of Mrs Fison has failed, and he asks Spencer to try the Government of Victoria. More queries about the possibility of a Spencer-Gillen expedition to Western Australia. Would £2000 suffice? Would Spencer agree that the eventual book should appear as a publication of the University of Liverpool, which would also get the collections and records made? Could Spencer and Gillen go?

70 19 April 1908. From Frazer (Liverpool) to Spencer. Frazer writes of his grief at the death of Fison and Howitt, “You and I, I hope, will try to stick more closely together for the loss…”. Praise of Spencer’s work. Frazer is proposing publication of a collected edition of Fison’s and Howitt’s anthropological papers, half the profits to go to the families of the deceased. He has been able to correct publicly and privately an unwitting injustice done to Howitt. Spencer is asked for his views on the project. Frazer regrets that Spencer and Gillen can not yet undertake the expedition to Western Australia, but has set his heart on this. Details of Frazer’s new book on Totemism. Condemnation of R.H. Mathews. “It is too soon yet to say whether I shall like Liverpool or not”.

71 15 September 1911. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Apologies for long failure to write. The loss of Fison and Howitt. Gillen has also become ill and helpless. Spencer has made an expedition to the Northern Territory, under the auspices of the Commonwealth Government. His main findings. The connection of Intichiuma ceremonies with a precarious food supply. A curious totemic system among certain tribes along the Roper river. Beliefs about the sound of the bull-roarer. No trace of anything like belief in a Supreme Being. “The Commonwealth Government is about to undertake measures for the settlement of the Northern Territory, which means that the Aborigines will very rapidly become “civilised”. Plans for another trip to study a tribe in Melville Island. An interesting analogy between an Aboriginal belief and classical mythology, raised by Professor Tucker of Cambridge.

72 27 July 1913. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Spencer has been on a year’s expedition. He got good results on Melville Island, including traces of Intichiuma ceremonies. Interesting ceremonies of the Kakadu tribe. Spencer may be visiting England at the end of the year.

73 3 October 1913. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Confirmation that he will be coming to England, bringing his “Kinematographic and Phonograph Records”. Critical comment on the work of A.R. Radcliffe Brown and Daisy Bates.

74 15 November 1913. From Spencer (Melbourne) to Frazer. Arrangements for Spencer’s trip to England. He hopes to finish his book on the results of the Northern Territory trip in 1912. He is not entirely satisfied with the results, but “they are, I think, good so far as they go, and probably represent my last contribution to field anthropological work”.

75 15 December 1916. From Frazer (London) to Spencer (London). Proposals for a meeting. Frazer suggests that Spencer should write another anthropological work, “a sort of general view of the social organisation and totemism of the Australian natives”. (NOTE: Lady Frazer has added in her own hand details of arrangement for a meeting)

76 16 December 1916. From Spencer (London) to Frazer (London). Acknowledging no. 75 above. Spencer has been able to do little anthropological work beyond “being, I hope, of some little help to a man named Malinowski”, whose work he commends. Criticism of W.H.R. Rivers' book on “Melanesia”.

77 18 September 1921. From Frazer (London) to Spencer. Frazer has received Spencer’s presidential address to the AAAS. He asks for information about Aboriginal methods of making fire, as he may take up the early history of fire as a subject for investigation. He is collecting material and Henry Balfour has been of help. Frazer is to give three courses of lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge. He asks for news of Spencer. 

78 5 October 1927. From Frazer (London) to Spencer. An enthusiastic letter of thanks for Spencer’s dedication of his book to him. Praise of Spencer’s great achievements. “My dear Spencer, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honour you have done me”.

79 24 December 1928. From Frazer (Paris) to Spencer. Thanks Spencer for his Christmas card and for sending the two volumes of Wanderings in Wild Australia. Praise of Spencer and Gillen’s work. Frazer hopes for a meeting and asks for information about Spencer’s plans. He is working on an edition of Ovid.

80 28 May 1932. A letter from Lady Frazer to T.K. Penniman in which she thanks him for the Spencer – Frazer correspondence, which presumably was loaned to her.

81 4 November 1930. Frazer to T.K. Penniman. Regarding an article on Spencer. His friendship with Spencer. 

82 Big envelop with Spencer–Frazer correspondence envelopes in it. 


Spencer papers Box 6

Black notebook containing Spencer’s pencil journal of his journey to Charlotte Waters, February 1 - 23, 1895. Also contains some rough pencil sketches of specimens, and examples of foliage pressed between pages.

2a Black notebook containing “Field Notes: Trip to Macdonnell Ranges. November 1896 - January 1897”. Entries in this book fall in November 1896. It also contains a handwritten list of shade temperatures in Alice Springs from 5 November - 23 December 1896.

2b Continuation of the above. Black notebook with rough journal from 8 - 25 January 1897. Note added in ink: - “With Cowle from Alice Springs via Undiara to Crown Point”

3 Four black notebooks marked “S & G” (Spencer and Gillen) containing Spencer’s rough journal of his expedition with Gillen to the Northern Territory.

The four books relate respectively to:

a) March 19 - April 17, 1901

b) April 18 - July 10

c) July 12 - November 21

d) November 21 - March 16, 1902

4. Black notebook containing rough journal beginning on July 4, 1911 of Spencer’s trip in the Northern Territory, starting from Darwin. Also contains word lists. Relates to 5A below.

5 Brown folder containing:

a) Spencer’s manuscript diary, from June 1 - July 9, 1911 of his expedition made at the request of the Commonwealth Government to study conditions in the Northern Territory.

b) Similar manuscript diary, from December 30, 1911 - April 7, 1912, starting with departure from Sydney by sea and ending with the words “Here endeth the first book”

(NOTE: on this expedition Spencer saw much of Joe Cooper and Paddy Cahill, two buffalo hunters, letters from whom can be found in the correspondence boxes of the Spencer papers)

c) Handwritten copy of despatch from Captain J.J. Gordon Bremer R.N. to Earl Bathurst, dated 10 November, 1824, reporting on his survey and establishment of a settlement on the North coast of Australia.


Spencer papers Box 7

6  Small black notebook containing “diary of Motor Trip with Gilruth: Pine Creek to Newcastle Water etc. etc.”, dated September-October 1912. Also contains notes on trips made to the Flora River (November), and Bathurst Island (November/December). Also word lists and sketches. 

Black notebook containing journal from June 1 - 20, 1926 of Spencer’s trip to Alice Springs. Also contains word lists and what seems to be subject indexes of “Notes on 1901 - 2”; ii. “Main Diary”; iii. “C.W. [Charlotte Waters] 1895” (see No. 1 above)

Black exercise book containing Spencer’s journal of his expedition to Tierra del Fuego, from leaving London on February 17, 1929 to the entry for June 28, 1929. Reprinted in “Spencer’s Last Journey” edited by Marett and Penniman (Oxford: Clarendon Press: 1931). 

Black notebook in which the contents of part of No. 8 appear to have been roughly entered before transfer to the larger notebook. From Saturday 29 June, 1929 onwards this notebook appears to be the sole source of the diary entries printed in “Spencer’s Last Journey”, of which see footnotes on page 99.

10 Blue exercise book (French origin) containing “Notes of” and “Extracts from” Baldwin Spencer’s “Last Journals” in Sir James Frazer’s hand. Also contains a plan of Tierra del Fuego, and a drawing of the dissection of a Steamer Duck, both by Spencer. Relates to Spencer’s Last Journey ed. Marett and Penniman (1931).

11. Watercolour sketchbook, scenes of Oxford and surrounding area, Scotland, etc. 1880s. Donated by Elizabeth McCormick, 2014.


Listing revised and corrected by J. Rankin/ C. Morton, 2010 and revised again by Alison Petch August - September 2014.

Enquiries:  ms-photo.colls@prm.ox.ac.uk