Records of The Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The records of The Scottish Anthropological Society and of the Edinburgh and Lothians Branch of the Royal Anthropological Institute include, at Gen. 34-35, the General Minutes of the Branch, 1922-1933, and the Committee Minutes of the Branch, 1923-1933. At Gen. 36-39 are Minute Books for 1932-1935, 1935-1937, 1937-1949, and 1949-1960. At Gen. 40 is a volume of Minutes of the Standing Committee of Anthropological Teaching, 1934-1938, and at Gen. 40* are some papers said to relate to the winding up of the Society.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society appeared to have its origins in the Edinburgh and Lothians Branch of the Royal Anthropological Institute which had been set up in 1922. At a meeting of the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute in London on 24 October 1922, an application by twelve Fellows of the Institute to found a local branch in Edinburgh had been accepted. A meeting to set up the branch was called at Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, on 2 November 1922. Among those present were Lord Abercromby and Sir P. Hamilton-Grierson. Abercromby was asked to Chair the meeting and he was subsequently elected Local President with Sir Everard im Thurn, formerly Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, as Vice-President, and Captain A. G. Pape as Secretary, and David MacRitchie as Treasurer. The inaugural meeting of the Edinburgh and Lothians branch was held in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society Meeting Rooms, Synod Hall, Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, on Tuesday 6 February 1923. A lecture was given by Sir Everard on The practical application of anthropology. Meetings continued throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s. Then, with a fresh impetus, on 15 June 1932, a meeting took place at the Royal Scottish Museum of a group of individuals interested in setting up a Scottish Anthropological Society. A committee met on 18 June deciding on the aim of furthering the study of anthropology generally but with special emphasis on the anthropology of Scotland. In October 1932 came the death of Sir Everard, still a prominent member of the local Branch of the Institute, and that same month at a subsequent meeting of enthusiasts a new society was constituted. Its provisional council met on 8 November chaired by Lt. Col. L. M. Davies. The Scottish Anthropological Society agreed to set up committees to deal with: an anthropometric survey of Scotland; folklore; dialect; comparative religion; general ethnology; and, propaganda. The President of the Society was Professor H. J. Rose, and the Vice-Presidents were Dr. William Grant and Archibald Henry Sayce, Professor of Assyriology, Oxford, and whose participation provided a link with the Edinburgh and Lothians Branch of the Institute. In February 1933, Professor Sayce died, and in March 1933, The Scotsman reported the final meeting of the local Branch of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Meetings of The Scottish Anthropological Society were held at the old Branch venue of the Synod Hall and talks were given on a variety of topics including: Finland; Scottish dialects and some methods of analysing and recording their pronunciation; the Leningrad Exhibition of Iranian Art, 1935, and its ethnographical aspect; Scottish placenames; Maya civilisation of Yucatan; a moslem community in Britain; and, nursery rhymes. By 1936, the Society came to be known as The Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society. Into the late-1950s, the membership of the Society had begun to dwindle and it was wound up in early-1960. The bulk of the library that had been acquired by The Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society was transferred, at the time, to the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Records of The Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society were received in October 1960, Accession no. E60.29.

Note

The administrative history was compiled using the records of the Society.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.