Additional material in the National Anthropological Archives relating to Aleš Hrdlička can be found in the papers of William Louis Abbott, Henry Bascom Collins, Herbert William Krieger, and Frank Spencer; records of the American Anthropological Association, Bureau of American Ethnology, Department of Anthropology of the United States National Museum (National Museum of Natural History), Science Service, Anthropological Society of Washington, and the United States Army Medical Museum (anatomical section, records relating to specimens transferred to the Smithsonian Institution); and glass negatives of Indians collected by the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution illustrations. Other photographs are in photographic lots 8, Division of Physical Anthropology collection; 9, photographs of Indians for the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego; 24, Bureau of American Ethnology, United States National Museum photographs of American Indians; 70, Department of Anthropology portrait file; 78, miscellaneous negatives; 97, Division of Ethnology collection ("USNM" Collection); 73-26B, Aleš Hrdlička photographs; 73-26G, miscellany; 77-48, group portraits of International Congress; 79-38, Division of World Archeology collection; 83-41, Division of Physical Anthropology collection of photographs of human bones; and 92-46, anthropology lantern slides. Portraits of Hrdlička are in numbered collections, Photo Lot 4822, physical anthropologists, portraits. See MS 4271, J. N. B. Hewitt, Box 3, "Beaver" correspondence, for Hewitt's opinion of some of Hrdlička's views. There are materials, including obituaries, in the non-archival reference file maintained by the National Anthropological Archives. Additional material, including Hrdlička's extensive collection of reprints, is maintained in the Division of Physical Anthropology. Further material may be found in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Ales Hrdlicka was born in Bohemia and came to America when he was thirteen. As a young man, he was trained in medicine at New York's Eclectic Medical College and the New York Homeopathic Medical College, receiving degrees from each. His first professional work was as a private practitioner, but he gave that up in 1894 when he joined the staff of the New York State Hospital for the Insane at Middletown. There, in addition to other duties, he began studies of the physical characteristics of inmates. This set in motion developments that would eventually lead him to become one of the world's most prominent anthropologists who has sometimes been referred to as "the founder of physical anthropology in America."
In 1896, in preparation for a research appointment with the Department of Anthropology in the Pathological Institute of the New York State hospitals, Hrdlicka went to Paris and studied with Leon Manouvrier. After his return to America, he worked for a short period with the Pathological Institute and came into contact with G.S. Huntington, of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Hrdlicka arranged and studied Huntington's large collection of skeletal material, thus gaining knowledge of a well-documented collection representing largely normal persons of European ancestry. He furthermore came to the attention of Frederic Ward Putnam, of the American Museum of Natural History, who arranged for his first anthropological field studies.
It was thus that Hrdlicka became a member of the Hyde Expeditions to the American Southwest and northern Mexico. In 1898, he traveled to Mexico with Carl Lumholtz to study the Tarahumaras, Huichols, and neighboring tribes. In subsequent years, he returned to Mexico and the Southwest alone and studied physical characteristics and medical conditions of several American Indian tribes. With this experience and examinations of the Trenton and Lansing skeletal material for Putnam, Hrdlicka came fully into the world of anthropology. In 1903, he was appointed head of the newly formed Division of Physical Anthropology in the United States National Museum.
In his position at the Smithsonian, Hrdlicka's contributions to American physical anthropology were great. His travels and field studies alone were impressive and important in his growth as an authority on the migration of man to the New World, human evolution, and the variations of man's physical form. In 1905, he returned to the Southwest for studies of Pima and Apache children and, in the following year, traveled to Florida to examine allegedly ancient remains of man. In 1908, he worked among a number of Indian tribes, including the Menominee, Oglala Dakota, Quinailt, Hupa, and Mohave, in a study of tuberculosis among them. In 1909, he traveled to Egypt with an expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in order to study living Egyptians and to examine remains of Egypt's past population. The following year took him to Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. In the first of these, he again examined allegedly ancient remains of man. In Peru, he made a large collection of skeletal material near Trujillo, at Pachamac, and in the Chicama Valley.
Between 1912-1914, Hrdlicka undertook a physical anthropological exhibit for the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego and, for this, traveled to eastern Siberia, Mongolia, Peru, and Florida. He also examined fossil remains of man in Europe and directed field work of other anthropologists in South and East Africa, St. Lawrence Island in Alaska, the Philippines, eastern Siberia, and the Ukraine. In 1915, for the Department of Justice, he assessed the racial makeup of Chippewas on the Leech Lake and White Earth reservations in Minnesota and also studied Dakota Indians. In 1917, his field work was directed toward white American families with longtime residence in the United States. In 1918, he carried out a survey of ancient sites in eastern Florida for the Bureau of American Ethnology. In 1920, he traveled to Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Manchuria in connection with an appointment to lecture at the Peking Union Medical College. As director of the American School for Prehistoric Studies in France, he again studied fossil remains of man in Europe in 1922 and 1923. In 1925, he carried out work in India, Ceylon, Java, Australia, South Africa, and Europe. In 1927, he was again in Europe to deliver the Huxley Memorial Lecture before the Royal Anthropological Society in Great Britain. Between 1929 and 1938, he traveled frequently to Alaska to carry on an anthropological survey. In 1939, he traveled to Russia and Siberia.
Beginning with much of the skeletal collection of the Army Medical Museum, which had been transferred to the Smithsonian in 1898 before he was appointed there, Hrdlicka amassed a bone collection that included, among many other specimens, the Huntington collection, casts of fossil remains of man, and a large and diverse North American collection. He also gathered a large collection of human brains. Over three hundred publications resulted from his study of this material, his field work, and his study of specimens in other museums. In addition, he was involved in many other activities. For United States government agencies, he provided services ranging from examinations of human remains for law enforcement officials to providing information and opinions concerning national origins and traits that were needed to interpret laws and form foreign policy. During World War II, he also advised government officials on policies to be pursued with certain national groups following the war.
In 1918, Hrdlicka founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and remained its editor until 1942. In 1928, he was the major force behind the organization of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and served as its president in 1928-1932. He was also president of the Anthropological Society of Washington in 1907, the American Anthroplogical Association in 1925-1927, and the Washington Academy of Sciences in 1928-1929. He was chairman of Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1918 and secretary of the Committee on Anthropology of the National Research Council in 1917. In addition, Hrdlicka was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. He represented the Smithsonian at several international gatherings of scholars, including meetings of the International Congress of Americanists.
Electronic finding aid available via the website of the National Anthropological Archives.
Addl. KW Subjects:
Pima (Akimel O'odham)
Pima (Akimel O'odham)
Tarahumara (Rar muri)
(1) Miscellaneous personal papers, 1889-1940; (2) personal correspondence, 1883-1917; (3) correspondence, 1888-1966; (4) news clippings and printed matter, 1893-1953; (5) financial papers, 1910-1943; (6) southwestern United States and Mexican Indians, 1898-1935; (7) anthropometric measurements on American Indians, 1904-1905; (8) Dakota, Chippewa, and Shawnee, 1916-1917; (9) Florida, 1918-1927; (10) Alaska, 1907-1938 (most 1926-1938); (11) bone studies, 1890s-1940s; (12) Panama-California Exposition expeditions, 1912-1914; (13) Egypt, Europe, and Russia, 1909; (14) South America, 1910-1911; (15) Far East, 1915-1930; (16) Australia, Java, India, South Africa, and Europe, 1925; (17) old Americans, 1914-1930; (18) children who run on all fours, 1925-1935; (19) early man studies, 1906-1930; (20) European ethnic history, 1908-1938; (21) miscellaneous research notes, 1887-1942; (22) manuscripts of writings, 1901-1944; (23) writings by other authors, 1877-1942; (24) anthropometry, 1882-1947; (25) My Journeys, 1898-1938; (26) American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1917-1942; (27) American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1924-1930; (28) International Congress of Americanists, 1900-1928; (29) Institute of Population, 1942; (30) Department of Anthropology, 1913-1943; (31) lecture notes, 1920-1932; (32) maps and charts, 1900-1932; (33) miscellany, 1890s-1970s; (34) index cards, 1899-1948; (35) bibliographic index, to 1942; (36) physical anthropology folios, n.d.; (37) photographs, 1887-1944
Hrdlicka's papers comprise a wide variety of materials but consist largely of correspondence, manuscripts of writings, physical anthropological tables and notes, and photographs. The material reflects his many professional interests and activities except for the earliest, for which the documents were destroyed by fire. Since he apparently made little distinction between his official and private activities, the papers incorporate many official records of the of the Smithsonian's Division of Physical Anthropology. This and other material show his wide-range of contacts with anthroplogists, especially physical anthropologists, and with many scholars in related sciences. Yet other material is personal and includes such documents as those relating to Hrdlicka's private property and correspondence with members of his family. Notably present is correspondence with his first wife, Marie Strickler. There are also documents that concern Hrdlicka's continued ties with Czechoslovakia (much of it in Czech) and his interests in Czech-American organizations, scientific development of Czechoslovakia, and his concern for its political fate, especially during World War II.
Ales Hrdlicka Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland