The first meeting of the Congrès was held in London and Oxford in 1934 (see A62). There after the intention was to hold it every four years. Following the second meeting in 1938 the third, due in 1942 could not be held, was then to be held in 1947 in Prague but the invitation was withdrawn. The third meeting finally took place in 1948 in Brussels and Tervuren and has been held subsequently every four years as originally planned. See also A93, Conseil Permanent.


KB-S    Prof. Kaj Birket-Smith, Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen; Secretary-General, Second Session, Congrès International, Member of Permanent Council

WBF    W.B. Fagg, CMG (1914-92), Keeper, Dept. of Ethnography, British Museum (1969-74); RAI Hon. Secretary, 1939-56, Hon. Editor of Man, 1939-65

HJF    H.J. Fleure, FRS (1877-1969), Prof. of Geography, Univ. of Manchester; RAI President, 1945-7

JLM    Sir John Myers, OBE (1869-1954), Wykeham Prof. of Ancient History, Univ. of Oxford; RAI Hon. Secretary, 1900-3, President, 1928-31, founder and Editor of Man

FMO    Prof. Frans M. Olbrechts, University of Ghent; Secretary-General, Third Session, Congrès International

1/    1938. Second meeting, Copenhagen

1    Secretary-General, Copenhagen, Prof. Kaj Birket-Smith to RAI, [Feb. 1938] – official invitation (in French; tp.)

2    RAI to Secretary-General, 15 Feb. – nominates representatives; sends expressions of goodwill (tpc.)

3    British National Secretaries to RAI Fellows, 23 May – reminder of Congress; hopes for a large British representation (mimeo.)

4    Bulletin d’adhesion (in French; printed)

5    Brochure (in French; printed)

see ‘International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Second Session, Copenhagen, 1-6 August 1938’ by JLM, Man, No. 174, Sep. 1938

2/    1947. Prague

No arrangements were made in 1938 for the 1942 Congress though invitations were received from Portugal, Czechoslovakia, and Germany, and later from the USA. Congress authorised the Bureau to accept one of these but, due to a German request, not to decide until 1940. Owing to the 1939-45 War, no meeting took place in 1942. The matter was considered by the Permanent Council at their meeting in Oxford in 1946. The votes gave first place to Prague, the second to Brussels, the third to Portugal, and then Mexico. The 1947 meeting was vetoed by the Czechoslovak Department of Education after the change of government and the invitation withdrawn. Belgium then renewed its invitation to hold the third meeting in 1948 and the invitation was accepted (see /3 below)

1    JLM to WBF, 22 Dec. 1946 – has heard from Dr J.A. Valšik that the Prague meeting will be 4-9 Aug. with excursion of 5-6 days; makes possible the Americanist Congress in Paris in late Aug. (autogr.)

2    Ibid., 24 Jan. 1947 – uneasy about Prague congress; asks him to inquire informally whether the Foreign Office has had any announcement from the Czechoslovak Government or the Czech Embassy as to the position in Prague; British membership of the Permanent Council needs revision; suggests someone should go to Prague soon (autogr.)

3    HJF to WBF, c. 24 Jan. – note on Foreign Office, Royal Society, and Czechoslovak Embassy (autogr.)

4    WBF to KB-S, 26 Jan. – expresses much concern about lack of news from Prague and on the political situation; asks if he has any further news (autogr. draft)

5    JLM to HJF, 6 Feb. – has written to Royal Society; will write to Foreign Office about Prague invitation and British Delegation (autogr. pc.)

6    KB-S to WBF, 7 Feb. – has received no information from Prague since Dec. (tp.)

7    Royal Institute of International Affairs to WBF, 7 Feb. – sends address of journalist in Prague (tp.)

8    JLM to WBF, 10 Feb. – thinks Dr Valšik was not supported by any staff; mentions RAI meetings (autogr. note)

9    WBF to FMO, 27 Feb. – personal and confidential information on the withdrawal of the Prague invitation by the Czech Dept. of Education; desires to give him an opportunity of considering possible renewal of Belgium’s invitation (autogr.)

10    FMO and Prof. Ed. de Jonghe to HJF, 6 Mar. – regrets to hear of Czech withdrawal; have discussed matter with Belgian Secretary of Education; feel sure an official invitation will result; asks for an official invitation to Belgium to organize the 3rd Congress (tp.)

11    FMO to WBF, 7 Mar. – much interested in his letter (/9 above); enabled him to make preliminary inquiries before HJF’s letter arrived; every chance of a Belgian invitation (autogr.)

12    JLM to HJF, 13 Mar. – considers the Belgian letter (/10 above) very satisfactory; thinks it would be courteous to inform Portugal and Mexico; encloses draft letter to Dr Valšik (/16 below); Belgians should be encouraged to issue a firm invitation; thinks facilities for Permanent Council in Paris during Americanist Congress week in Aug. could be requested now; comments on signatures for official Belgian invitation (autogr.)

13    KB-S to HJF, 13 Mar. – sorry to hear of the Prague withdrawal; surprised Dr Valšik did not inform him; agrees about Paris meeting of Permanent Council; proposes Belgian invitation for 1948 should be accepted; comments on affiliation with ICSU (International Council of Scientific Unions)(tp.)

14    Prof. Eusébio Tamagnini, Museu e Laboratório Antropológico, Universidale de Coimbra to RAI, 17 Mar. – has just heard from Gôa that the next Congress meets in Portugal this year; expects it to be in Prague; requests information urgently (tp.); see /23 below

15    HJF to KB-S, 18 Mar. – agreed Prague meeting cannot take place; should proceed with Belgian invitation for 1948 meeting (tpc.)

16    JLM to Dr Valšik, [18 Mar.] dated 13 Mar. – on Czech withdrawal; facts to be reported to the Permanent Council; Belgian invitation to be accepted provisionally and confirmed by Permanent Council; hopes he will join in proposed course; mentions Czech invitation for 1949; suggests he may wish to address the Permanent Council; requests telegraphed reply (autogr. draft with amendments)

17    Ibid., 18 Mar. – ibid. (tpc.)

18    WBF to Dr Jaroslav Císar, Chargé d’Affaires, Czechoslovak Embassy, 19 Mar. – much regrets cancellation of 1947 meeting; Dr Valšik in his letter received 22 Feb. (not held) wrote that notices would be sent to the Permanent Council from the Czechoslovak Embassy; on possibility of Belgian invitation; encloses copy of letter to Dr Valšik and asks for his help in ensuring delivery (autogr.)

19    WBF to KB-S, 19 Mar. (on verso of /18 above) – encloses copy of JLM’s letter to Dr Valšik; if no reply is received the latter’s consent to Belgian invitation will be assumed (autogr.)

20    Dr Císar to WBF, 20 Mar. – regrets cancellation of 1947 meeting; will send copy of letter to Dr Valšik by radio (tp.)

21    omitted

22    KB-S to HJF, 22 Mar. – has had no word from Dr Valšik; considers it better not to include him among officers of the Congress; has written to Prof. Rivet over Paris meeting of the Permanent Council; willing to write to Portugal and Mexico but wishes advice on the contents (tp.)

23    WBF to Prof. Tamagnini, 26 Mar. – confirms telegram sent on the cancellation of the Prague Congress; suggests possible reason for the report from Gôa (see /14 above); realises impracticality of a meeting in Portugal; probable Belgian invitation for 1948; letter not official as he, WBF, is not an officer of the Congress (autogr.) see /14 above

24    JLM to HJF, 28 Mar. – thinks it unnecessary to do more than inform Portugal and Mexico of cancellation and of the Belgian invitation; suggests Dr Valšik’s name should be omitted from any circular letter; encloses draft letter to the Permanent Council; refers to Paris meeting (autogr.)

25    Drafts of letters to Prof. de Jonghe and Prof. Olbrechts and the Permanent Council on the withdrawal of the Czech invitation and that an official Belgian invitation would be welcome, 31 Mar. (autogr. by HJF and WBF); see /31-2 below

26    Dr Císar to WBF, 1 Apr. – confirms telegram cancelling Congress due to unforeseen difficulties; prefer to postpone date to 1949 or holding Congress elsewhere; sends Dr Valšik’s apologies; he fully supports the Belgian invitation (tp.); slip on cancellation inserted in Mar. 1947 issue of Man of which no copy survives in the RAI sets or those of the Museum of Mankind; there is no copy in the Editor’s files

27    JLM to WBF, 3 Apr. – circulars to be sent from London and signed by JLM; will pay for the cost of the circulars (autogr.)

28    A.H. Brodrick, Secretary-General (with KB-S and JLM), Congrès International to JLM, 4 Apr. – not surprised at Prague cancellation; has talked with Prof. Rivet who cannot undertake Permanent Council meeting as well as the Americanist Congress; comments on Belgian invitation (tp. copy)

29    JLM to WBF, 7 Apr. – encloses Brodrick’s letter; will wait for Prof. Rivet’s own reply; thinks the Officers have authority to accept Belgium’s invitation especially with support from the Permanent Council (autogr.)

30    WBF to KB-S, 8 Apr. – encloses letter to the Belgians drafted by HJF and agreed by JLM, hopes he will sign it, and draft to Permanent Council (see /25 above); reports Dr Valšik’s support of Belgian invitation and Prof. Tamagnini confusion over the Portuguese invitation (see /14, 23 above)(autogr.); see also /31-2 below

31    KB-S to Profs. de Jonghe and Olbrechts, [10 Apr.] – on the withdrawal of the Czech invitation and on the acceptance of a Belgian invitation (tpc.); see also /25 above

32    Draft letter to the Permanent Council on the Czech withdrawal, the authority vested in the Officers in an emergency, and the invitation from Belgium (tpc.); see also /25 above

33    KB-S to WBF, 10 Apr. – has sent letter to Belgium; agrees with draft to the Permanent Council and procedures suggested; members list with Dr Valšik; forwarding printed list (tp.)

34    Henry Field (d. 1985) to WBF, 16 Apr. – thanks him for information on Prague withdrawal and Belgium’s invitation; comments on his Mexican excavations (autogr.)

35    JLM to WBF, 18 Apr. [or 15 Apr.] – comments on Dr Valšik’s letter (not held); suggests the Czech Embassy should be asked to secure the return of the address lists; mentions RAI Presidency (autogr.)

36    Prof. W. Koppers, Institut für Völkerkunde, Universität Wien to JLM, 22 Apr. – comments on Prague meeting, next venue and the Congress due in 1942, promised to Austria in Paris, May 1937 (i.e. before the German annexation); hope to renew their invitation for 1948 (tp.); see also /48 below

37    Note by JLM attached to above – has replied; Vienna offer not forgotten (autogr. dated 9 May)

38    WBF to Dr Valšik, 30 Apr. – expresses regret at the Czech withdrawal; asks for the urgent return of the Congress files and the address list; outlines Dr Císar’s proposals for their return (autogr.)

39    Ibid. (tpc.)

40    HJF to A.H. Brodrick, 8 May – thinks Permanent Council’s approval of Belgium’s invitation unnecessary; is writing to Prof. Rivet to thank him for his offer of a Permanent Council meeting in Paris (tpc.)

41    HJF to Prof. Paul Rivet, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, 8 May – thanks him for his offer; thinks it unnecessary for Permanent Council to meet in Aug. (in French; tpc.)

42    HJF to Profs. de Jonghe and Olbrechts, 8 May – confirms a government office’s authorisation of offer will be acceptable (tpc.)

43    HJF to KB-S, 8 May – JLM considers Officers of the Congress can act without a meeting of the Permanent Council; agrees a formal request should be made to Belgium,; trying to obtain the return of Congress papers and address lists through the Czech Embassy (tpc.)

44    HJF to Profs. de Jonghe and Olbrechts, 8 May – thanks them for their help in plans for the next Congress; invites them to ask their government if the next Congress could be held in Belgium in 1948 (in French; tpc.)

45    Drafts of /40-4 above by HJF (autogr. with 2 notes on the typing and signatures required)

46    Dr Valšik to WBF, 9 May – arrangements made for papers to go by air mail; much regrets next Congress will not be in Prague; sends his best wishes for the next session (tp.)

47    KB-S to WBF, 14 May – thanks him for HJF’s letters; agrees with proposals; glad Congress papers are now in London (tp.)

48    Prof. W. Koppers to JLM, 18 May – outlines Austria’s position after the German annexation in Mar. 1938; not then in a position to issue an invitation for 1942; hopes a meeting in Vienna will be soon (tp.); no Austrian Delegation is listed in the Compte rendu de la deuxième session, Copenhague, 1938; several Austrians are listed in the Comité d’Honneur including Prof. Koppers; see also /36 above

49    HJF to WBF, 23 July – asks him to look at record of the Oxford meeting; records his clear recollection of the voting (autogr.)

50    JLM to WBF, 29 July – thanks him for Prof. Tamagnini’s correspondence; will reply in accordance with HJF’s letter (/49 above); comments on Prof. Hatt’s position; matter for the Danes (autogr.)

3/    1948. Third meeting, Brussels and Tervuren

1    FMO to WBF, 25 July 1947 – comments on his visit to London; looking forward to the Congress (tp.)

2    Ibid., 21 Sep. – comments on exchange material and his Ife publication; anxious to receive names of British members attending Congress (tp.)

3    Ibid., 8 Oct. – sends draft of second circular; asks for the English to be checked; hopes to obtain subsidy for Congress (tp.)

4    JLM to HJF, 5 May 1948 – agrees with letter to Prof. Ed. de Jonghe (President; Organising Committee); has signed it; asks for copy to go to P.W. Schmidt; invitations received in Cambridge (autogr. pc.)

5    Draft by WBF of intention to attend Congress (autogr.)

6    Ibid. on exchange control regulations, 10 May (autogr.)

7    List of British proposing to attend Congress, 3 June (tpc.)

8    Exchange control regulations sent to RAI members, 14 June (mimeo.)

9    Robert Kerr, Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh to WBF, 15 July – asks if he will represent the Museum (tp.); letter, 22 July acknowledging WBF’s acceptance not retained

10    FOM to WBF, 30 July – expresses pleasure at his forthcoming visit (tp., pc.)

11    WBF to FOM, [c. 31 July] – asks for special invitation to be cabled to Prof. Helmut Petri, Frobenius Institut to assist visa; all his arrangements made (autogr. cable)

12    FOM to WBF, [-Aug.] – acknowledges cable (autogr. pc.)

13    Prof. Daryll Forde to WBF, [26 Aug.] – on omission to settle dinner bill (autogr. pc.)

14    RAI to Organising Committee of Congress, 1 Sep. – expresses gratitude for a successful Congress (in French; tpc.)

Official Publications

15    Première circulaire, Juin 1947 (in French and English; printed)

16    English draft of Second circular. [7] leaves (tpc. with correction by WBF)

17    Seconde circulaire, Oct. 1947 (printed)

18    Ibid. English text (printed; slip inserted)

19    Circular with final details, 15 June 1948 (mimeo.)

20    Circular, 25 June (mimeo.)

21    Circular on acting as Vice-President of a section (mimeo.)

22    Membership card (in French; printed)

23    Carte d’invitation (in French and English; printed)

24    Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire – description of the ethnography collection (mimeo.)

25    Ville de Malines – notice of a carillon recital presented to the Congress (in Flemish, French, and English; mimeo.)

26    La tour et le carillon à Malines – illus. brochure (in Flemish and French; printed)

4/    1952. Fourth meeting, Vienna

1    Second circular, Jan. 1952 (printed)

2    Membership form (in German, French, and English; printed)

3    Prof. Robert Heine-Geldern (Vice President) to WBF, 6 Mar. – on arrangements for payment through London travel agent (tp.)

4    Notes on Permanent Council deliberations: British delegation revised as proposed. 3 pp. (autogr. by WBF); acid-free copy attached

Abstracts of papers. 69 pp. (mimeo.); not retained, see Actes du IVe Congrès

5/    1956. Fifth meeting, Philadelphia

1    First announcement, Aug. 1955 (in English and French; printed)

6/    1960. Sixth meeting, Paris

1    Secrétaire exécutive, VIème Congrès to RAI, 27 Apr. 1960 – expresses surprise that neither the first nor the second circular has been received; both enclosed (in French; tp.)