Papers of Sidney Herbert Ray

Scope and Content

The collection comprises the papers of Sidney Herbert Ray, chiefly relating to the languages and ethnology of the Pacific Islands.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sidney Herbert Ray was born in 1858. He became a schoolmaster in 1882. His interest in Oceanic languages began in about 1887 and he became a Fellow of the Anthropological Institute in 1888. He visited Torres Strait, New Guinea and Borneo 1898-1899 with the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition. In 1907 he received an Honorary M.A. from Cambridge. He became Vice-President of the Anthropological Institute in 1919 and Rivers Medallist at the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1928. He was occasional lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) from 1920s-1936. He died in 1939.

His publications include A Comparative Vocabulary of the Dialects of British New Guinea , (1895); Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits , (1907-1935); Languages of Borneo , (1913); People and Language of Lifu , (1918); Languages of Northern Papua , (1919); Languages of Western Papua , (1919); Comparative Study of the Melanesian Island Languages , (1926); Languages of Central Papua , (1929); Grammar of the Kiwai Language , (1933), and Languages of South-Eastern Papua , (1938).


The material has been arranged by geographical area, and alphabetically by language within each area. The areas covered include: Guam, Fiji, Louisade Islands, Loyalty Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Hebrides, New Ireland and New Britain, Santa Cruz Islands, and Solomon Islands.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in March 1978.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Related Material

Related Collections at SOAS: [ref. MS 68121] Catalogue of printed books and manuscripts relating to languages and the science of language, belonging to S.H. Ray (9 vols.)