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Davidson Black - William Diller Matthew collection

Identifier: GTM-931227

Scope and Contents note

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 surrounding 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

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical notes

Davidson Black was born in Toronto on July 25, 1884. He 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, establishimg himself as one of the foremost anthropologists of his day. Davidson Black died on March 15, 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. William Diller Matthew died September 24, 1930 in San Francisco, California.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased by Georgetown University Library from Wilder Books, Elmhurst, IL, 1993.

Davidson Black - William Diller Matthew collection
Michael North, Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057