Alfred Cort Haddon: Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 12 MS.Haddon
  • Dates of Creation
      c. 1857-1940
  • Name of Creator
  • Physical Description
      138 boxes, 5 volumes, 4 rolls, 4 bundles, 4 sketches, 1 box-file, 1 envelope and 1 map

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence, diaries and other papers relating to Haddon's early and personal life; correspondence, field notes and records of the expeditions to the Torres Straits, Sarawak and New Guinea; notes and correspondence concerning publications; lectures and miscellaneous notes; and offprints, not by Haddon, but belonging to him, including newspaper cuttings. The collection also contains further papers of important contemporaries: James Hornell, Northcote Whitridge Thomas, William Halse Rivers Rivers, William Ridgeway, Baron Von Hugel and Arthur Bernard Deacon.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alfred Cort Haddon (1855-1940), ethnologist, was born in London on 24 May 1855. He was educated at schools in London, and attended evening classes at King's College, London. He entered Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1875, and took the natural sciences tripos (B.A., 1878). In 1880 Haddon was appointed professor of zoology at the Royal College of Sciences and assistant naturalist to the Science and Art Museum in Dublin.

During 1888-1889 Haddon visited the Torres Straits to study marine biology and to record the lives of the people before contact with Europeans brought the end of native customs. Following this visit Haddon organised the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits, which took place during 1898-1899. The expedition was the first anthropological investigation to be directed and carried out by scientists, and helped to develop the basic techniques of modern anthropology. Haddon himself was a pioneer in the use of film in anthropological research.

In 1900 Haddon became a lecturer in ethnology at Cambridge University, a position he held until 1925. He was elected a fellow of Christ's College in 1901. He attended the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Australia in 1914, and during his time there revisited the Torres Straits. On his return Haddon continued to work on his Torres Straits Reports and organised his South Seas collections at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

The Report of the Cambridge anthropology expedition to the Torres Straits was published between 1901 and 1912, with the final volume appearing in 1935. Haddon wrote, with James Hornell, Canoes of Oceania (1936-1938), and, on his own, Smoking and tobacco pipes in New Guinea (1946), a study of cultural diffusion. He died at Cambridge on 20 April 1940.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge University, 1968.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue to the collection is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room. This is accompanied by a detailed description of the parts of the collection that have been microfilmed.

Alternative Form Available

Parts of the collection, indicated in the catalogue, have been microfilmed.