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Davidson Black - William Diller Matthew collection

Identifier: GTM-931227
The Black-Matthew Collection consists of 19 transcribed letters between Davidson Black and William Diller Matthew, with 1 letter from Black to Herbert M. Evans regarding the above letters, from 1929 to 1932. The letters are arranged in 20 folders and contained in one box.

Much of the correspondence between Black and Matthew regards contemporary theories surround Java Man, Sinanthropus, and Piltdown man, including Matthew's theores of how climate may have affected early man's development and the possibility of "sub-Himalayan" origins of humans. References are made to many noted anthropologists of the day, including Roy Chapman Andrews, Birgir Bohlin, Ales Hrdlicka, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Rev. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., and Grafton Elliot Smith.


  • 1929-31


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Biographical notes

Davidson Black was born in Toronto in 1884 and attended the University of Toronto from which he received an M.A. in 1903 and an m.D. in 1906. Having a preference for academia rather than the practice of medicine and a keen interest in anatomy, Black became a lecturer in anatomy at Western Reserve University 1909. taking a year of sabbatical in 1914, Black went to Manchester University in England, where he worked with Grafton Elliot Smith, a noted archaeologist who had done extensive work with Piltdown Man. At this time Black met many noted figures involved in the search for human origins, including Charles Darwin and Rev. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. In 1917 Black entered the Army Medical Corps of Canada in Toronto, and in 1918 he accepted a professorship in Neurology and Embryology at Peking Union Medical College in China. In November of 1928, Birgir Bohlin found half a lower jaw of a Sinanthropus during an excavation with Black at Chou Kou Tien, still one of the most important finds of Peking Man. Black went on to publish numerous theories regarding the new find, estbalishimg himself as one of the foremost anthropologists of his day. Davidson Black died in March, 1934 in Peking.

William Diller Matthew, noted geologist and anthropologist, was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada on February 19, 1871, the son of George F. Matthew, an amateur geologist who worked with Sr William Dawson in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. He received an A.B. from the University of New Brunswick in 1889, and from Columbia University he received a Ph.B (1893), an A.M. (1894), and a Ph.D. (1895). In 1898 Matthew began his lifelong career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he served as an assistant curator until 1902, associate curator from 1902 to 1910, curator from 1911 to 1925, and curator-in-chief of Division I from 1922 to his death in 1930. Matthew's work in the study of fossils and climate was a great inspiration of Davidson Black in his own study of paleontology.
Davidson Black - William Diller Matthew collection
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository