Home Archives & Manuscripts Archive Contents PRESIDENCY COMMITTEE (A124)

Correspondence and papers. 1943-63, 1975.

The Presidency Committee consisted of the Officers, past Presidents and senior members of Council, usually two. It met every two years and reported to Council its recommendations on the President and elected Vice-Presidents; no minutes were kept. All retiring Presidents became permanent Vice-Presidents. One of the three elected Vice-Presidents retired each year. See Council minutes, 9 Apr. 1959, minute 5a, f. 73 for pictures of past Presidents and 1 Mar. 1962, minute 4a, f. 149 and the amendment to the latter, 5 Apr. 1962, minute 1, f. 150 for the proposal that on retiring the President should be a Vice-President for one year and then become eligible for re-election to Council this proposal failed to take effect. Following the Strategic Review, Feb. 2003, Council provisionally decided on 26 Mar. 2003 that the Committee should continue as it is but that it should seek to make its recommendations on the President and elected Vice-President a year in advance. This was confirmed at the Council meeting of 17 Sep. 2003.


WBF    William Buller Fagg, CMG (1914-92), Keeper, Dep. of Ethnography, British Museum, 1969-74; RAI Hon. Secretary, 1939-56; Acting Hon. Secretary while AHC was in hospital in 1962; Hon. Editor of Man 1947-66; Council, 1956-69 passim, 1973-5; Vice-President, 1969-72; Hon. Librarian, 1977-92

1/    1943

1    Dr W.L. Hildburgh to WBF, 31 Mar. 1943 – approves the nomination of Prof. J.H. Hutton for the Presidency and Dr G. Caton-Thompson for the vacant Vice-Presidency (autogr.); see Council minutes, 23 Mar. 1943, minute 6, f. 413 and 25 May, minute 5a, f. 417

2    Harold J.E. Peake to Miss F. Stallman, 12 June – will do his best to record important events from his election to the RAI to his Presidency (1926-8); ‘will be scrappy and very indiscreet’ (autogr.); FS’s reply, 17 June not retained

2/    1947

1    WBF to Miss Gertrude Caton-Thompson, c. 21 Mar. 1947 – urges her to accept the Presidency (autogr. draft); see Council minutes, 11 Mar. 1947, minute 6a, f. 496 on the appointment of the Committee and 15 Apr. 1947 minute 6a, f. 499 for the recommendation of Prof. Forde for the Presidency and Dr Lindgren as Vice-President

2    Prof. C. Daryll Forde to Miss F. Stallman, c. 21 Mar. – will be in the country; proposes Prof. W.E. Le Gros Clark as Vice-President (autogr.)

3    Prof. J.H. Hutton to WBF, c. 23 Mar. – cannot attend meeting; would support either Mrs B.Z. Seligman or Miss Caton-Thompson; refers to Prof. Childe; makes objections known; makes other suggestions (autogr.)

4    Agenda for Committee, 25 Mar. (tpc. draft)

5    Amended notification of the meeting, 25 Mar. (tpc.)

6    Miss G. Caton-Thompson to Prof. H.J. Fleure, 28 Mar. – has reconsidered her decision not to accept the Presidency; has come to the same conclusion which must be final (autogr.)

7    Prof. J.H. Hutton to Prof. H.J. Fleure, 29 Mar. – had a telephone talk with Miss Caton-Thompson; she is adamant in her refusal to accept the Presidency; mentions Mrs Seligman, Prof. R.W. Firth, Dr E.J. Lindgren and Prof. Le Gros Clark for the Vice-Presidency; will support whoever the Committee decides on (tp.)

8    Miss G. Caton-Thompson to WBF, 29 Mar. – sorry her decision not to accept the Presidency is a disappointment to him and others; mentions Prof. Firth and Mrs Seligman; refers to plates for her article in Man (autogr.)

9    Prof. H.J. Fleure to WBF, 15 Apr. – Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s letter arrived too late to reply; willing to go on for one more year if it would really be helpful to the RAI and Council wanted it (autogr.); Prof. Fleure’s Presidency was not extended beyond 1947; see Council minutes, 15 Apr. 1947, minute 6a, f. 499 for Prof. Forde’s nomination as President

3/    1948-9

1    Prof. C. Daryll Forde to WBF, 23 Dec. 1948 – surprised to learn from The Times that Prof. Fleure was named as President; given no function in the J.C. Prichard Centenary meeting; happy to regularise the position by resigning at the next Council (autogr.)

2    WBF to The Times, c. 24 Dec. – encloses letter which explains the misunderstanding (autogr.)

3    Ibid., 24 Dec. – ibid. (tpc.)

4    Ibid., 24 Dec. – refers to the ‘kindly notice’ of J.C. Prichard Centenary meeting; explains the misunderstanding in referring to Prof. Fleure as President instead of Prof. Forde (tpc.)

5    WBF to Prof. C. Daryll Forde, 27 Dec. – expresses regret that The Times made a mistake in spite of the care to supply them with correct data; explains the situation further; glad he treated the matter as a joke (autogr. draft)

6    Clipping from The Times, 8 Jan. 1949 recording Prof. Forde as RAI President (printed)

7    Prof. J.H. Hutton to WBF, 10 Feb. – considers Presidency should be offered to Mrs Seligman; if she refuses then either Prof. R.W. Firth or Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard; refers to Prof. Childe (tp.)

8    Notice of Presidency Committee, 18 Mar. (tpc.); see Council minutes, 8 Mar. 1949, minute 9a, f. 558 for the appointment of Mrs Seligman as Vice-President and of the Committee and 5 Apr. 1949, minute 7a, f. 563 for the nomination of Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard as President

4/    1951-2

1    Notice of Presidency Committee, 6 Mar. 1951 (tpc.)

2    J.P. Mills to Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 9 Mar. – felt great surprise and honour in being offered the Presidency; if the Committee feels he can be useful then will accept (autogr.); J.P. Mills was President, 1951-3; see Council minutes, 6 Feb. 1951, minute 7, f. 624 for the appointment of the Committee and 3 Apr. 1951, minute 8, f. 630 for the nomination of the President

3    H.S. Harrison to J.P. Mills, President, 17 Dec. 1952 – thanks him for Council’s good wishes and congratulations; many Council members are old and valued friends; regrets he has not been able to attend meetings but reads the agenda and minutes with great interest (autogr.); see Council minutes, 13 Nov. 1952, minute 5b, f. 674 on H.S. Harrison’s 80th birthday

5/    1953

1    Prof. J.H. Hutton to WBF, 6 Jan. 1953 – refers to WBF’s Christmas card and to book review; would endorse Dr E.J. Lindgren as President; mentions strong claim of Prof. Firth (autogr.)

2    Notice of Presidency Committee, 13 Mar. for 20 Apr. (tpc.); see Council minutes, 12 Mar. 1953, minute 7i, f. 687 for the Committee

3    Mrs A.C. Bowe, Secretary to the Officers, to Presidency Committee members, 13 Mar. – asks them if they are able to serve (tp.)

4    Dr E.R. Leach to WBF, 14 Mar. – hopes to attend meeting; strongly recommends Prof. Firth (tp.)

5    Prof. J.H. Hutton to Mrs Bowe, 17 Mar. – accepts appointment to the Committee (autogr.)

6    Prof. Meyer Fortes to Mrs Bowe, 18 Mar. – unable to attend meeting; suggests Prof. Firth and Prof. Childe (tp.)

7    Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard to WBF, 23 Mar. – does not recall discussing Sir Robert Hyde though he thought Lord Raglan might be a good choice; will not vote against Prof. Firth if his name is proposed (autogr.)

8    Ibid., Easter Monday [i.e. 6 Apr.] – thanks him for his letter; will vote for Prof. Firth if proposed; prepared to serve on the Henry Myers Committee (autogr.)

9    J.P. Mills to WBF, 7 Apr. – suggests Sir Robert Hyde or Lord Raglan (autogr.)

10    Ibid., 8 Apr. – refers to people who might support Sir Robert Hyde; mentions Dr Leach (autogr.)

11    Ibid., 15 Apr. – if he sent out a letter about Sir Robert Hyde it should have some effect on Prof. Hutton; he thinks Prof. Firth has a strong claim (autogr.)

12    WBF to Presidency Committee, c. 15 Apr. – on Sir Robert Hyde (draft autogr.)

13    WBF and others to Presidency Committee, 16 Apr. – ibid. (mimeo.); signed H.J. Fleure, Douglas H.F. Wilson, W.B. Fagg, J.C. Trevor

14    Prof. Meyer Fortes to WBF, 18 Apr. – has just received proposals to support Sir Robert Hyde and Prof. Firth; wrote earlier to suggest Prof. Firth and Prof. Childe (/6 above); gives reasons for supporting Prof. Firth rather than Sir Robert Hyde (tp.)

15    WBF to Lord Raglan, 21 Apr. – private note about the difficulty of the Presidency Committee over the number of names suggested; Council will have to resolve the matter (autogr. draft)

16    WBF to Dr E.R. Leach, 22 Apr. – gives his reasons for preferring Sir Robert Hyde as President now rather than Prof. Firth (autogr. draft)

17    Agenda amendments for Council, 23 Apr. (WBF autogr. draft)

18    Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard to WBF, 23 Apr. – regrets he is unable to attend Council; also the same for Prof. Gluckman (telegram)

19    WBF to Prof. R.W. Firth, 24 Apr. – congratulates him on his nomination for the Presidency; looks forward to working with him; asks him for a paper on his field trip; refers to Ena Noël and Roland Penrose (autogr. draft)

20    Prof. R.W. Firth to J.P. Mills, 30 Apr. – thanks him for his letter; appreciates the honour in being elected to succeed him as President (tp.); see Council minutes, 23 Apr. 1953, minute 9, f. 690 for the nomination of Prof. Firth as President

21    Prof. R.W. Firth to WBF, 30 Apr. – thanks him for his letter and congratulations on his nomination; mentions activities in the next few months which preclude a paper on his last field trip; refers to Paul Radin and Ena Noël (tp.)

22    Dr E.R. Leach to WBF, 30 Apr. – thanks him for his letters; differences of opinion over the Presidency relate ‘merely’ to what is best for the RAI; the discussion in Council brought out deeply held convictions on both sides (see Council minutes, 23 Apr. 1953, minute 9, f. 690); refers to review of Ségy’s book on African sculpture (see Man, Aug. 1953, Item 193)(autogr.)

6/    1955

1    Prof. H.J. Fleure to WBF, 23 Feb. 1955 – supports his suggestion Dr Fraser Roberts should be offered the Presidency; gives reasons; mentions Sir Robert Hyde, I.M. Sieff and Dr Caton Thompson; refers to the Keith resolution (autogr.)

2    Dr J.C. Trevor to WBF, 23 Feb. – not well enough to attend [Presidency] Committee; desirable to have a President on the biological side; mentions Miss Tildesley and Dr Fraser Roberts as possible candidates; gives reasons (tp.)

3    Ibid., 23 Feb. – personal letter; considers the occasion important; wishes those in the provinces could be given more notice of meetings; mentions again Dr Fraser Roberts and importance of Miss Tildesley being considered; note on S. Davis’s paper, ‘Diving bowls’ (see Man, Sep. 1955, Item 142)(autogr.)

4    Prof. Meyer Fortes to WBF, 23 Feb. – regrets cannot attend [Presidency] Committee; suggests alternative dates; understands both Prof. Gordon Childe and Prof. Sir Wilfred Le Gros Clark are being considered; would support either of them (tp.); see Council minutes, 3 Mar. 1955, minute 6, f. 749 the Committee to report to the next Council

5    WBF to Dr A.E. Mourant, 4 Mar. – consults him on Dr Fraser Roberts as President (autogr. draft)

6    Dr A.E. Mourant to WBF, 7 Mar. – stresses Dr Fraser Roberts as the leading authority on blood-group anthropology in the UK; his generosity to others in the UK and overseas. 3 ff. (autogr.; annotation by WBF)

7    Dr G. Caton-Thompson to WBF, Syracuse, 16 Mar. – honoured and surprised to receive Prof. Firth’s suggestion she should be considered for the Presidency; cannot accept; gives reasons for refusal (autogr.)

8    Ibid., 16 Mar. – personal note suggesting Prof. Le Gros Clark and among those giving long service Lord Raglan and Dr Lindgren (autogr.)

9    Ibid., 1 Apr. – sorry to disappoint him; decision final (telegram)

10    Dr J.C. Trevor to WBF, 5 Apr. – hopes to attend Committee to-morrow; if an impasse is reached suggests again Miss Tildesley (autogr.)

11    WBF to Prof. R.W. Firth, c. 6 Apr. – on Dr Caton Thompson’s refusal despite pressure; Committee proposes to invite Lord Raglan; Miss Tildesley second (autogr. for telegram to Univ. of Chicago)

12    Prof. R.W. Firth to WBF, 7 Apr. – does not understand the committee’s proposal (telegram); see 11/ above

13    Prof. R.W. Firth, University of Chicago to WBF, 12 Apr. – advises him to consult Profs. Forde and Fortes before deciding (telegram)

14    Ibid., 12 Apr. – trusts he received cable; gives reasons for proposing further consultation; important that the Committee comes to a unanimous decision (tp.); see Council minutes, 14 Apr. 1955, minute 6, f. 752 for Council’s decision recommending the name of Lord Raglan

15    WBF to Prof. C. Daryll Forde, c. 12 Apr. – ‘consultation suggested’ the Committee should meet today; lists reasons for considering various names; decided Lord Raglan’s name should go forward with Miss Tildesley second (autogr. draft; annotated by WBF: ‘Not sent as Forde inaccessible’)

16    WBF to Prof. R.W. Firth, c. 12 Apr. – explains decision to suggest Lord Raglan (autogr. for telegram); see Council minutes, 14 Apr. 1955, minute 6, f. 752 on decision to nominate Lord Raglan as President

17    Lord Raglan to WBF, 17 Apr. – after consideration decided to accept the Presidency; discusses the difficulty of attending Executive Committee (tp.)

18    WBF to Prof. R.W. Firth, University of Chicago, 25 Apr. – thanks him for his letter (/14 above) which arrived on 15 Apr.; explains at length reasons for proposing Lord Raglan as President. 6 pp. (autogr.)

19    Prof. R.W. Firth, London School of Economics to WBF, 3 June – thanks him for his letter (/18 above) which explained the position clearly; mentions Lord Raglan’s faithful service to the RAI; refers to the Royal Society application; considers the RAI has ‘a very good case for increased assistance’ (tp.)

20    Prof. R.W. Firth to WBF, 13 June – thanks him for his letter of appreciation of his role as President; ‘all worked together amicably’ to get work done; thanks him and D.H.F. Wilson for invitation to have a meal; suggests lunch dates (autogr.)

7/    1957

1    Dr Caton-Thompson to Dr E.J. Lindgren, 7 Jan. [1957] – glad to get her letter about last Council; though ready to leave the fog made the train 2 hours late; refers to Dr Dorothy Garrod; mentions her reference to Prof. Fortes’ ‘fury with WBF’; suggests Prof. Le Gros Clark would be good as President (autogr.); see Council minutes, 3 Jan. 1957, minute 6, f. 809 on the Committee to nominate the next President

2    WBF to Prof. H.J. Fleure, [c. 29 Jan.] – refers to a North Nigerian use of a word and to Prof. Ruggles Gates; mentions the Presidency; hopes to see Dr Fraser Roberts recommended; mentions Prof. Forde’s view; should be a ‘physical specialist’; only other is Prof. Le Gros Clark; mentions Prof. Fortes and other names; will remind Dr M.W. Smith [Hon. Secretary] of the election of Vice-Presidents (autogr. draft); Prof. Fleure’s postcard on B.E.B. Fagg’s help on Nigerian word, 16 Feb. not retained

3    Prof. H.J. Fleure to WBF, 1 Feb. – congratulates him on the delivery of Man; refers to Prof. Ruggles Gates; has discussed the Presidency with Dr G. Caton-Thompson and written to Dr Smith; as 1958-9 is the centenary of the Origin of the species among other things needs a President who could play an adequate part; suggests Prof. Le Gros Clark and Dr Fraser Roberts among other names; agrees with him when a social anthropologist’s turn comes, Dr Audrey Richards ‘is indicated and we ought to have a female President soon’ (autogr.)

4    Memo from Dr M.W. Smith to members of the Presidency Committee; names first meeting of the Committee as 7 Feb. (tpc.)

5    Dr A.I. Richards to Dr M.W. Smith, 5 Feb. – much regrets she cannot attend the Committee, 7 Feb. or Council on the same day; suggests Dr Phyllis Kaberry as her deputy; mentions Prof. Schapera and Prof. Fortes for the Presidency (tp.)

6    Lord Raglan to Dr M.W. Smith, 14 Mar. – glad to report Dr Fraser Roberts has accepted the Presidency; unlikely to be in London for two meetings; asks her to arrange a chairman (tp.); see Council minutes, 7 Mar. 1957, minute 7a, f. 6 on the nomination of Dr Fraser Roberts for the Presidency

8/    1958-9

1    Dr M.W. Smith to Council, 10 Apr. 1958 – Prof. Schapera feels unable to be a nominee for Vice-President; Council is asked to submit further nominations (mimeo.); the elected Vice-Presidents for 1958-9 were Miss B.M. Blackwood, Prof. M. Fortes and Mrs B.Z. Seligman

2    Memo from Dr M.W. Smith to the Committee, 6 Feb. 1959 – asked to submit names for President and Vice-Presidents (mimeo.); see Council minutes, 5 Feb. 1959, minute 9, f. 68 and 5 Mar. 1959, minute 8a, f. 70 for the decision to nominate Dr Audrey I. Richards for the Presidency and Mr Sieff as Vice-President; the latter was also announced on 9 Apr. 1959, minute 6, f. 73

9/    1961

1    Memo from WBF, Acting Hon. Secretary to the Committee, 6 Feb. 1961 – asked to submit names for President and one elective Vice-President; names members of the Committee (mimeo.); see Council minutes, 2 Feb. 1961, minute 8, f. 123

2    Miss Joan Edwards, Administrative Secretary to Dr K.P. Oakley, 6 Mar. – WBF asked her to write asking whether he would be a nominee as Vice-President; gives duties of Vice-President; Prof. Schapera has accepted nomination for the Presidency, 1961-3 (tpc.); see Council minutes, 2 Mar. 1961, minute 9, f. 126 for nomination of Prof. Schapera

3    Dr K.P. Oakley, Rome to Miss Joan Edwards, 9 Mar. – honoured by the proposal that he should accept nomination for the Vice-Presidency; delighted to hear that Prof. Schapera has accepted nomination to the Presidency (autogr.); see Council minutes, 6 Apr. 1961, minute 7, f. 129 for the nomination and acceptance of Dr Oakley as a Vice-President

10/    1962

1    Dr E.J. Lindgren to WBF, [1 Nov. 1962] – on the Presidency; has written to Dr G. Caton-Thompson; refers to Dr Caton Thompson again. 4 pp. (autogr.)

2    Dr G. Caton-Thompson to WBF, 8 Dec. – refers to speech by Prof. Zeuner and Dr Leach’s absence from the meeting; refers to Dr Waechter’s Council nomination and to ‘his persistence in making himself useful in archaeology’; mentions Howard Ferguson, composer and musicologist and his interest in mediaeval glass and West African art (autogr.)

3    Miss B.M. Blackwood to WBF, 13 Dec. – considers Adrian Digby ‘an excellent choice’ for the next President; mentions H.H. Coghlan, Dr Beattie and Audrey Butt (autogr.); see Council minutes, 7 Feb. 1963, Minute 4, f. 168 for members of an ad hoc Committee to consider the question of the Presidency and 7 Mar. 1963, Minute 4a, f. 170 for the report of the Committee to invite Dr J.S. Weiner to be the next President

4    Dr G. Caton-Thompson to WBF, 14 Dec. – dislikes lobbying ‘but there are occasions when it can’t be avoided’; wonders what the reaction will be; mentions Howard Ferguson; also names of Adrian Digby, A.E. Mourant and H.H. Coghlan as mooted for the Presidency; suggests Dr J.E.S. Thompson; gives her views (autogr.)

11/    1963

1    Dr G. Caton-Thompson to WBF, 6 Feb. 1963 – refers to J.E.S. Thompson as an alternative to Adrian Digby; gives her views on Dr Weiner as President (autogr.); see Council minutes, 7 Mar. 1963, minute 4a, f. 170 for the decision to invite Dr J.S. Weiner to be the next President

12/    1975

1    Memo from Roger Moss, Hon. Treasurer to members of Council and those who served during Prof. E.R. Leach’s Presidency, 9 June 1975 – on Prof. Leach’s retirement as President after two terms and a small personal gift (tp.); see Council minutes, 26 June 1975, f. 103 for a formal version of the memo