Originally Published in 1914

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At a meeting of the Board of Managers, held January 16th, Mr. S. W. Colton, Jr. and Mr. T. Broom Belfield were elected members of the Board to fill the vacancies caused by the resignations of Mr. Daniel Baugh and Mr. Morris L. Clothier.

At a meeting held in February Mr. Pierre S. duPont, of Wilmington, was elected to fill the place on the Board of Managers made vacant by the death of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell.

The lecture course ended on March 28th. On that day Prof. James H. Breasted, of Chicago, delivered a highly interesting lecture on Egyptian Art. The three following lectures were added to the course since the last number of the JOURNAL went to press.

February 21. Prof. George Grant MacCurdy, of Yale University, The Dawn of Art.
February 28. Dr. A. B. Lewis, of the Field Museum of Natural History, Four Years Among the Islands of the South Seas.
March 14. Prof. Masaharu Anesaki, of the Imperial University, Tokyo, Japanese Art.

The Museum has received from the South American expedition two collections shipped about the first November. One of these collections came by the way of Para and was assembled on the Uraracuera River in Northern Brazil. The other collection which came by the way of Georgetown, was procured in the extreme south of British Guiana. The bulk of these collections consists of objects at present in use among the Indians, such as feather garments and ornaments and household utensils. Of special interest are several urn burials, which must be of considerable antiquity since the Macusis, in whose territory the discoveries were made, have no tradition that their ancestors used this method of burial.

Letters were received from Dr. Farabee dated September 3rd and November 11th. The earlier letter was written at Boa Vista in Brazil on the upper waters of the Rio Branco and the later ones were written from Dadanawa in the extreme south of British Guiana. This is a frontier post of the British colonial government, where the resident, Mr. H. P. C. Melville, is magistrate and protector of the Indians for the whole of Southern British Guiana.

In the first letter Dr. Farabee writes as follows.

“In British Guiana I secured some valuable material concerning three little known tribes, the Wapisiana, Atterois and Turumas. I got also a small collection there on the way. I shall return later to continue the work.

“I took a hurried horseback ride across country and visited Mr. John Ogilvie, who has just returned from the Waiwai country. Mr. Ogilvie lives with Mr. H. P. C. Melville. . . .”

In the letters dated November 11th, Dr. Farabee wrote as follows:

“I arrived here last night and find that a boat has been held three days to take mail for me. The men are now at the landing ready to go and I must be brief as possible. For the past twenty days we have been on foot with carriers in southern British Guiana among the Macusi Indians living in the foot-hills of the Kanaku and Pakari ranges. As to health and physical fitness, let me say that in spite of a vertical sun I can make twenty-five miles a day without weariness. From Jupikari to St. Ignatius is fifty-four miles; we had to make it in two days on account of water. The second day, which was the sixteenth of our journey, we walked twenty-eight miles and got in at 4.30. The next morning at daybreak I was arranging packs for the next journey.

“We made collections among the Macusi and packed them at Jupikari. They will go down with this boat. You will notice a scarcity of packing material. You will also condemn the packing of a bundle of bones, but I had just time to hide them in the bag and there was no opportunity to pack them—the Indians are afraid to handle them and wouldn’t carry them if they knew it.

“We shall start in a few days with thirty or forty carriers for the Waiwai country and beyond. We cannot tell how far we can go or how long it will take, for the region is unknown as you are aware.

“We find it very difficult to follow any definite program. The rivers are too low, the horses won’t pack, the Indians are sick, etc., and we make shift with opportunities. When we went to Tirka we could get no horses or bulls to ride or pack, the Indians in two villages were all sick, so we got an ox cart for fifteen miles and got carriers there.

“The collections sent home are not large, but contain many good things. I have a great deal of new information concerning little known tribes and shall send copies of notes home from Para. There is a very good creation myth, a flood myth and various animal and constellation myths from the Atterois which are very interesting indeed.

“Probably our best work was in finding urn burials on Mt. Tirka in the Pacaraima Range in lat. 4° N. and long. 59° 30′ W. Two urns are on their way to the Museum. I am inclosing with this, copies of the photos and am sending under separate cover to the Museum a number of films. I begged paper for these prints from Mr. Melville. He had very little to spare, so I could not make copies of all the films. This `find’ is interesting because the Macusis who now inhabit this region have no tradition that their ancestors buried in urns, but they have a tradition that they burned the dead. Now they always bury either under the floor or nearby.”

At the end of March, at the time of going to press, no further news had been heard from Dr. Farabee. His intention evidently had been to penetrate as far as possible into the unexplored country lying along the borders of British Guiana and Brazil. He was joined at Melville’s by Mr. John Ogilvie, a man who had long resided among the Indians, spoke their language and had great experience of the country. Further letters may be expected in April or May, when the party has returned from the trip on which they were starting at last report.

In January a temporary exhibit was made of baskets in the private collections of Mrs. Richard Waln Meirs and Mr. John W. Brock. A special feature of the exhibit, and one which afforded visitors to the Museum an unusual opportunity of seeing some of the best work of the surviving Indian basket makers was a series of Washoe baskets made by a woman of that tribe whose work exhibits great artistic and technical perfection.

Mr. George G. Heye has added a number of specimens to his North American ethnological collection in the Museum. Some of these were obtained by him in Europe during a journey which he made in the summer of 1913. Among these objects are a fine old painted buffalo hide war shield protected by its buckskin cover. This is a first-rate example of the war shield of the Plains Indians. A number of pieces of quill work also deserve special mention as well as several pairs of leggins of the Naskapi Indians with characteristic decorations in fine style and workmanship.

The Heye collections have further been enriched by a number of wampum belts which, added to those already on exhibition, make this collection of wampum now the largest and most notable in existence. Among the Indian tribes represented by these wampum belts are the Penobscot, the Passamaquoddy, the Micmac, the Ojibway, the Delaware, the Huron and the Iroquois. Besides the belts which have historical associations, having been identified with treaty obligations, there are a number of ornaments and strings of wampum, such as served for ceremonial use.

The Museum has acquired from Captain George Comer a collection of Eskimo ethnology obtained on Southampton Island and the adjoining mainland. The acquisition of this collection was a very timely one, since Southampton Island is now practically deserted. The collection adds an important link to those already in the Museum, illustrating the culture of the Eskimo from Greenland to Alaska.

A collection of Chukchee and Eskimo ethnology has been presented to the Museum by Mr. E. Marshall Scull, who obtained these articles during a hunting expedition which he made with a group of companions in the summer of 1913 along the Asiatic coast of Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

The Museum has received from the Rev. Frederick J. Paton, of Malekula, New Hebrides, and the Rev. H. A. Robertson, D.D., of Sydney, Australia, a collection of implements and articles of clothing made by the natives of the New Hebrides.

Letters have been received from Mr. Robert Burkitt giving an account of a journey which he made into northern Guatemala for the purpose of studying the archaeology and ethnology of that region. Mr. Burkitt’s report, which is illustrated by photographs, contains much interesting information regarding the present state of the natives and the evidences which he found of past civilization.

In the last number of the JOURNAL announcement was made of the purchase of a small collection of rare objects from a Tibetan monastery. These are more fully described in another place in this JOURNAL. It gives us satisfaction to announce that the Museum has since been enriched by a larger collection from Tibet consisting of three hundred and twenty-five pieces. This is the notable ALEXANDER SCOTT COLLECTION, which was assembled by Mr. Scott during a residence of twenty-five years in Darjeeling. This collection is now being catalogued and prepared for exhibition. It will be described and illustrated in a later number of the JOURNAL.

The collection of Chinese bronzes has been increased by the purchase of four antique incense burners and vases.

A collection of about four hundred palaaolithic implements from the Dordogne Valley has recently been purchased from Mr. L. Didon.

A second collection of palæolithic implements from La Quina, together with a cast of the La Quina skull, has been acquired through exchange from Mr. Henri Martin.

The Mediterranean Section has been enriched by the purchase of a Roman portrait head in marble. This sculpture is described in detail on other pages of the JOURNAL.

The excavations of the last ten years in Crete have revealed the importance of the Minoan culture in relation to Mediterranean civilization. The most striking objects that have been discovered in this connection are the painted terra cotta reliefs and frescoes, terra cotta figurines, stone lamps and other sculptures. The Ashmolean Museum at Oxford has for some years exhibited a series of reproductions of these objects. This Museum is now fortunate in having secured a similar set of reproductions which have been purchased through the Lucy Wharton Drexel Fund for casts.

The collections in the Mediterranean Section have recently been further improved by six pieces of Cypriote pottery obtained by exchange through the Metropolitan Museum.

Since the last JOURNAL went to press Dr. Hall’s report on the excavations at Vrokastro in Eastern Crete has been published and distributed to subscribers.

Prof. Arthur Ungnad, of the University of Jena, has finished a volume of Babylonian letters on which he has been engaged since his arrival at the Museum in October. There are one hundred and thirty-three texts in the volume, all of them found in the Museum’s collection. Some were procured from the excavations at Nippur and some purchased from dealers.

Although the building operations had to be suspended during the cold weather, work was resumed early in the spring, and since then steady progress has been made in the construction of the walls and of the eight interior arches which will support the dome. The outer walls have nearly been finished. During the spring and summer the roof will be placed in position and the work of finishing the interior will be in progress.

The number of visitors during 1913 was 74,493. During the first three months of that year the number recorded was 26,543. During the same three months of 1914 the number of visitors recorded was 17,980.

The numbers recorded for the first three months of each of the six years beginning in 1909 were as follows.

Jan. to Mar., 1909 12,330
1910 12,508
1911 11,504
1912 26,865
1913 26,543
1914 17,980

Two facts of interest are brought out by these figures. During the years 1912 and 1913 an experiment was tried to measure the effect of conveying information to the public through some of the regular channels. Notices giving information about the Museum were placed where they would be likely to do the most good. The result is shown in the figures for 1912 and 1913.

By the beginning of 1914 all of these notices had been removed. The second point of interest brought out by the figures is that while the removal of the notices has been accompanied by a falling off in the number of visitors, this number still remains at a much higher level than had been reached before this method of conveying information to the public had been tried.

Cite This Article

"Notes." The Museum Journal V, no. 1 (March, 1914): 43-48. Accessed February 21, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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