Correspondence and papers. 1932-60.

At its meeting in New York in Aug. 1932, the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations (IFEO) invited four anthropologists to form a standardization committee under IFEO with Prof. Th. Mollison, Prof. J. Czekanowski, and Miss M.L. Tildesley (MLT), (the fourth was unable to accept nomination), who became the nucleus of the committee with the latter as Convener-Chairman. With 24 foundation members from different countries, a general statement of its aims and methods was published in Man, June 1934, Item 109 and elsewhere in English, French, German and Russian. The international committee known as the Comité de Standardization de la Technique anthropologique (CSTA) was transferred to the Congrès international des Sciences anthropologiques et ethnologiques in July-Aug. 1934 and became a permanent committee with MLT as Chairman and Prof. H.V. Vallois as Secretary.

In Nov. 1931 Council appointed a sub-committee to consider research sections and resolved to establish, among other matters, a section on physical anthropology with MLT as Convener; the Human Biology Research Committee was set up at the same time with MLT again as Convener (Council minutes, 24 Nov. 1931, f. 187). As a result the British Committee for the Standardization of the Techniques of Physical Anthropology was appointed by Council to cooperate with CSTA in Oct. 1933; MLT was Chairman-Convener (Council minutes, 24 Oct. 1933, f. 227). No reference to the British Committee was made in the Report of the Council until 1938-9. However, regular reports of the committee, 1934-54 were made by MLT to the Permanent Council of the CSTA (see A93/7/1-10). In the Report of the Council, 1939-40 it was reported that a Committee for the Anthropological Measurements of Army Recruits had been appointed in 1939 and in the Report, 1947-8 the new title, British Committee for the Standardization of Anthropometric Techniques was used; no reference to the change of title is made in Council minutes. Since MLT wished to resign as Chairman in Oct. 1954 Council reappointed the committee pending a report; possible changes were to be made after consultation with committee members and others. Dr J.S. Weiner had proposed a Working Party to work if possible with the Medical Research Council. Council agreed to a Working Party with powers to co-opt; Drs J.M. Tanner, J.C. Trevor, J.S. Weiner and MLT were appointed (Council minutes, 3 Feb. and 6 Oct., 1955, CM/84/5/1b and CM/85/1/7b). Dr Weiner was appointed Convener in Oct. 1957 and remained so until 1961 when the Standing Committee recommended that it should cease; Council accepted (Standing Committee minutes, 9 Nov. 1961, Item 5; Council minutes, 7 Dec. 1961, CM/91/3). See ‘Racial anthropometry: a plan to obtain international uniformity of method’ by MLT, JRAI, Vol. 58, 1928, pp. 351-62; and among other articles see, ‘Standardization of the technique of physical anthropology’ by G.M. Morant, M.L. Tildesley and L.H. Dudley Buxton, Man, July 1932, No. 193; ‘The essential craniological technique’ by L.H. Dudley Buxton and G.M. Morant, JRAI, Vol. 63, 1933, pp. 19-47; ‘Observations and results of a European tour in the interests of standardization’ by M.L. Tildesley, Man, Apr. 1936, No. 84; and Miriam L. Tildesley collection, MS 294/6/30, 294/18/1-4, 294/20/11-13 for a letter from L.H. Dudley Buxton on the committee and correspondence with Franz Boas, Ales Hrdlicka and Frank Spencer.


WBF        W.B. Fagg, CMG (1914-92), Hon. Secretary, 1939-56, Hon. Editor of Man, 1947-66

MWS        Dr Marion W. Smith (1907-61), Hon. Secretary, 1956-61

MLT        Miss M.L. Tildesley (1883-1976), Council 1933-59 passim, Hon. Secretary Treasurer, Dining Club 1952-7, and of the Sherry Club 1957-63

JSW        Dr J.S. Weiner (1915-82), Reader in Physical Anthropology, University of Oxford, President, 1963-5

1/    General Correspondence


1    Circular from MLT drawing attention to articles in Man, 1932, Nos. 193, 201 on the standardization of the techniques of physical anthropology and inviting a reply from all interested, 15 July 1932 – addressed to British anthropologists (mimeo., annotated)


2    MLT, Convener to members of the Committee, 4 Jan. 1934 – on consultation by letter and Committee meetings if points need discussion (tpc.)

3    Ibid., 4 Jan. – encloses draft of the statement (not present) that the International Committee ‘should make as regards its basis, aims and proposals’; outlines present position; invites opinions (tpc.)

4    Ibid., Mar. – ‘International Standardization of the Technique of Physical Anthropology’; announces formation of an international committee to assist standardization; proposed technique, ‘The essential craniological technique’ by L.H. Dudley Buxton and G.M. Morant published in JRAI, Vol. 63, 1933, pp. 19-47; proposals will be discussed at the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences to be held in London; asks for testing and criticism (mimeo.)

5    Ibid., 23 Mar. – lists names of International Committee; asks for suggestions and names from countries not represented (tp.)


6    Ibid., 8 May 1935 – hopes members will attend Human Biology Research Committee meeting, 3 May; Dr R.J.A. Berry will speak; has sent copies of his 1920 publication (with Dr Porteus); asks for criticism (tpc.)

7    MLT, Kilchberg bei Zürich to H.S. Harrison, President, 3 Oct. – reports on travels in Europe to meet as many members of the International Committee as possible; working on a draft agreement on Standard measurements; will send detailed report to Council later (tp.); see Man, Apr. 1936, No. 84


8    H.S. Harrison, President, to H.E. The Russian Ambassador, London, 28 July – writes in support of MLT’s request for an interview (tpc.)

9    MLT to members of the Committee, 24 Sep. – on the difficulty of reaching decisions by correspondence; refers to discussion of three major head measurements and contributions to it by Dr R.J.A. Berry, Dr G.M. Morant and herself; further research and testing of techniques required before a decision is reached; suggests voting on an amendment; encloses voting paper; need to develop satisfactory discussions; draft statement of constitution and aims and Prof. H.V. Vallois’ documents not present as indicated. 2 pp. (tpc.)

10    Voting paper enclosed in (/9) above (tpc.)


11    ‘Report to the British Association on the work of the … Committee’ by MLT, 19 Aug. 1938. 4 leaves (tp.)

12    British Association to MLT, Oct. – notification of a grant (printed)


13    ‘Report to the British Association, 1939, on the work of standardization of anthropometric techniques, for which a grant … was made … in 1938’ by MLT, 10 Aug. 3 leaves (autogr.)

14    List of techniques with ‘Promise to do tests and when’ with names of participants, 1939 (tp.)


15    Anthropometric instruments by MLT, late 1950 or early 1951 (tpc.)


16    E.H. Ashton, University of Birmingham to MLT, 1 Nov. 1954 – importance of committee in general anthropology; warrants reappointment; suggests exchange of correspondence supplemented by collective discussion (tp.); all following letters are to MLT unless recorded otherwise; for /16-28 see Council minutes, 7 Oct. 1954-6 Jan. 1955, CM/84/1-4

17    D.F. Roberts, University Museum, Oxford, 1 Nov. – suggests change in terms of reference would be advantageous (tp.)

18    Prof. G.A.G. Mitchell, University of Manchester, 2 Nov. – believes Committee should be reappointed; lack of those interested in subject limits progress (tp.)

19    G.I. Boyd, 2 Nov. – glad to act as Secretary if appointed; suggests a Committee meeting would be advantageous; discussion of work only by correspondence unsatisfactory (tp.)

20    B.F. Hamilton for Prof. R.D. Lockhart, University of Aberdeen, 3 Nov. – thinks Committee should be reappointed; functions of a more active nature desirable (tp.)

21    E.M.B. Clements, 3 Nov. – resigns from Committee; no longer associated with a University department; gives his views on anthropometry (autogr.)

22    J.S. Weiner, University Museum, Oxford to WBF, 3 Nov. – unable to attend Council; asks for two points to be reported for him; minutes of last meeting records MLT as Associate Editor, JRAI; thought he had been appointed; MLT asks for views on Committee; thinks it should be abolished; suggests a consultative panel in its place; makes further suggestions (tp.)

23    J.M. Tanner, St Thomas’s Hospital, London, 8 Nov. – thinks Committee serves ‘some useful purpose’; suggests terms of reference (tp.)

24    Circular from MLT to members of the Committee, 25 Nov. – Council informed of replies to her letter; old Committee remains until a decision is made; gives views of Committee members; gives her own views; makes suggestions; asks whether Committee members would recommend JSW’s views to Council. 4 pp. (mimeo.)

25    W.C. Osman Hill, Zoological Society of London, 26 Nov. – gives views; Committee should be reappointed, terms of reference unaltered and some formal meetings held (tp.)

26    J.M. Tanner, 3 Dec. – in reply to circular (/24 above) agrees with views of JSW and D.F. Roberts; doubtful about her suggestion of a large consultative committee (tp.)

27    G.I. Boyd, 4 Dec. – suggests cooperation with the Medical Research Council (MRC); possible agreement on techniques among British anthropologists; would like to see meeting of present committee; refers to Scarborough skeletons (tp., autogr.)

28    D.F. Roberts, 16 Dec. – agrees with proposal for a small working party; does not see the need for a larger consultative group (tp.)


29    Prof. R.D. Lockhart, 21 Jan. 1955 – considers programme of consultative group and working party ‘very good’ (tp.)

30    Prof. G.A.G. Mitchell, 28 Jan. – likes proposals in theory; wonders if they can be implemented; experience of physical anthropology and good knowledge of human anatomy essential; most with this expertise heavily committed already (autogr., annotated by MLT)

31    E.H. Ashton, 28 Jan. – feels he can contribute little; concerned with specific morphological problems; thinks proposals form a good basis; glad to contribute when possible (tp.)

32    Draft letter, [Feb.] to MRC by MLT with E.M.B. Clements’s suggested amendments attached. [5] leaves. (tpc., autogr. amendments; annotated by MLT)

33    WBF to Sir Harold Himsworth, Secretary, MRC, 3 Mar. – outlines need for standardization of techniques; working party formed; RAI invites the MRC to be associated (tpc.); see Council minutes, 3 Feb., 3 Mar., 9 June and 6 Oct. 1955, CM/84/5/1b, CM/84/6/4d, CM/84/9/4c, and CM/85/1/2c respectively


34    MLT to MWS, c. 8 Apr. 1956 – encloses report; hopes JSW will supplement it at Council, 2 May (tpc., annotated by MLT); MLT sent the MRC reply, a copy of her letter to JSW and her report to MWS, 25 Apr.

35    MLT to MWS, 25 Apr. 1957 i.e. 1956 – agrees to serve on Council if elected and to remain on the Horniman Committee; considers further developments of the standardization committee now rests with JSW; suggests committee should be suspended until JSW’s proposed committee is completed; unwilling to continue as Chairman; refers to her interviews at the MRC (tpc.); see also /34 above and Council minutes, 2 May 1957, CM/86/8/4d, inviting JSW to be Chairman


36    MWS to JSW, 25 Sep. 1958 – asks if he wishes to make a statement as Convener of the committee (tpc.)

37    Secretary to JSW to MWS, 29 Sep. – regrets JSW will not return from South Africa until Dec. (tp.)


38    JSW to MWS, 28 Sep. 1960 – short notice given to deal with possible termination of committee; personally has no wish to see it continue; must consult other members (tp.)

39    Ibid., 17 Oct. – has had replies from all Committee members except MLT; majority in favour of discontinuing committee; submits resignation as Convener; leaves decision to Council (tp.)

40    MWS to JSW, 18 Oct. – understands uncompleted work of committee not reason for its continuance; sure Council will wish to receive further information (tpc.)

41    JSW to MWS, 19 Oct. – MLT looked after the committee ‘until a year or so ago’; committee has not met ‘for many years’; not aware the committee had some definite projects; only MLT can help Council (tp.)

2/    Council matters

1    Minute of Council, 24 Oct. 1933 on the appointment of a Committee to cooperate with the International Standardization Committee (autogr. by MLT)

2    MLT to R.W. Firth, Hon. Secretary (later Prof. Sir Raymond W. Firth, President 1953-5), 16 Dec. 1935 – regrets cannot attend Council; lists matters she would like him to report; reports on Human Biology Group, Prof. Sir Grafton Elliot Smith as Chairman and his illness (tp.)

3    R.W. Firth to MLT, 18 Dec. – reports on appointments to Committee and Sir Grafton Elliot Smith’s resignation; Council suggests Prof. Le Gros Clark should be asked to be chairman at next meeting; chairman and convener to be appointed annually (tpc.)

4    MLT to President, 8 June 1937 – reports on history of committee from Oct. 1933 and its members; committee not reappointed since 1933; proposes it should be terminated and a successor appointed with a wider membership and a more specific function; encloses draft constitution (not present but see /5 below) (tpc.)

5    Constitution and aims of the British Committee … 1937-8 (tp.)

6    Proposed modifications for 1938-9 (tp.)

7    MLT to R.W. Firth, 14 Oct. 1938 – provides information for his consideration before Council appoints members to the committee (tp.)

8    Ibid., 22 Oct. – thinks letter of 14 Oct. did not arrive; repeats information including report for inclusion in Report to the Council on proposed modifications to constitution (/6 above) (tp.)

9    Views of radiometer measurements of auricular height on the living (tpc.)

10    Constitution and function, 1938-9

11    Minute of the Council, 13 June 1955 on MLT still awaiting a reply from the MRC (/1/33 and /35 above); reports on her interviews with MRC (autogr., by MLT)

12    ‘Expenses of work on techniques since … 1935-(41)’ – sums received (tp.)

3/    Reports to Council and lists of members of the committee

1    Members of the Committee, 1935 (tpc.)

2    Report, 1936 (tpc.)

3    Members of the Committee, 1937 and Constitution and aims, 1937-8 adopted Oct. 1937 (tpc.); copy also at 23/2/12

4    Report, 1938 (tpc.); copy also at 23/2/13

5    Membership of the Committee, 1938-9 (tp.)

6    Report, 1939 (tpc.)

7    Report, 1940 (tpc.)

8    Report, 1948-50 (tp.)

9    Members of the Committee, 1949-50 (tp., annotated by MLT)

10    Ibid., 1948-52 (tp.)

11    Report, 1954 (tp.)

12    MLT to Committee members, 19 Oct. 1954 – apologises for failure to discharge duties as secretary; encloses final report (/11 above); reports Council’s wish for members’ views on reappointment and terms of reference; considers conclusions on technique sufficient to justify international acceptance (tp.)