Perry Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of notes, letters, draft articles and research papers. Also included are papers of Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, Professor of Anatomy at University College London 1919-1936, who worked with Perry on Diffusionist theories and together they led the Diffusionist School controversy of the 1920s and 1930s. There are also some papers of W.H.R.Rivers, Fellow of the Royal Society and President of the Royal Anthropological Institute (1864-1922).

Administrative / Biographical History

William Perry was educated the City of London School and Selwyn College Cambridge. From 1919 to 1923 he was Reader in Comparative Religion in the University of Manchester. In 1924 he was appointed Upton Lecturer in the History of Religions at Manchester College Oxford, and stayed there until 1927. From 1928 to 1948 he was Reader in Cultural Anthropology at University College London. He married Gwynllyan Lilian in 1915 and had one daughter. Perry published 'The Megalithic Culture of Indonesia' in 1918; 'The Children of the Sun' in 1923; 'The Origin of Magic and Religion' in 1923; 'The Growth of Civilisation' in 1924; 'Gods and Men' in 1927, and 'The Primordial Ocean' in 1935. Perry died on 29 April 1949.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Presented in September 1981, via C.E.Joel, one of the editors of the review 'Historical Diffusionism', who inherited the papers with Perry's books in 1949.

Other Finding Aids

A draft list is available. Please contact Special Collections for further information

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.