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Frank Spencer Papers

Creator:
Spencer, Frank, 1941-1999  Search this
Langham, Ian, 1942-1984  Search this
Names:
Dawson, Charles, 1864-1916  Search this
Hrdlička, Aleš, 1869-1943  Search this
Hrdlička, Aleš, 1869-1943  Search this
Keith, Arthur, Sir, 1866-1955  Search this
Extent:
40 Linear feet (94 boxes, 1 oversized box)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Place:
Piltdown (England) -- early man site
Date:
1836-1999
bulk 1970-1999
Summary:
Frank Spencer was a historian of biological anthropology who began his career as a medical laboratory technician. His papers include correspondence, manuscripts, notes, research files, teaching materials, photographs, and audiotapes. Spencer's research on the Piltdown hoax as well as the Piltdown research of Ian Langham, whose work Spencer continued after his death in 1984, and Spencer's research on the life and career of Aleš Hrdlička for his dissertation are both represented in the collection.
Scope and Contents:
This collection documents the research and professional activities of anthropologist Frank Spencer through his correspondence, manuscripts, notes, research files, teaching materials, photographs, and audiotapes. As a historian of physical anthropology, Spencer did a great deal of archival research. Well-represented in the collection is Spencer's research on the Piltdown hoax as well as the Piltdown research of Ian Langham, whose work Spencer continued after Langham's death in 1984. Among the materials collected are negatives of Piltdown-related papers and negatives of Sir Arthur Keith's papers held at the Royal College of Surgeons. Spencer, who theorized that Keith was behind the Piltdown hoax, had organized his papers with a grant from Wenner-Gren. Also represented in the collection is Spencer's research on the life and career of Aleš Hrdlička for his dissertation. Although most of Hrdlička's papers and photos that Spencer collected are copies of materials held at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA), the collection does contain original correspondence between Hrdlička and his first wife, Marie Strickler; his childhood report card from 1869; and copies of family photos obtained from Lucy Miller, Hrdlička's niece. The collection also contains an audio recording of Hrdlička speaking at Wistar Institute. Spencer's 1975 taped interviews with Henry Collins, Harry Shapiro, Ashley Montagu, and Lucille St. Hoyme can also be found in the collection. Other projects represented in the collection include A History of Physical Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, The Origins of Modern Humans: A World Survey of the Fossil Evidence, and Fallen Idols, Spencer's unpublished book on the history of scientific attitudes towards human origins. In addition, the collection contains copies of Physical Anthropology News, which Spencer co-founded and edited. Photos in the collection include images of Frank Spencer as well as of the 1981 and 1988 annual meetings of the Association of American Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) and the 1980 symposium Spencer and Noel T. Boaz organized on the history of American physical anthropology.

Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged in 15 series: (1) Correspondence, 1864, 1910, 1920, 1972-1999 (bulk 1972-1999); (2) Piltdown, 1836-1997; (3) Ales Hrdlicka, 1866-1867, 1893-1942, 1971-1981, 1994-1999; (4) Encyclopedia, 1881-1891, 1911-1999 (bulk 1991-1998); (5) Projects, 1858-1884, 1897-1909, 1919-1929, 1939-1999 (bulk 1982-1995); (6) Human Antiquity Research, 1960-1980, 1991-1998; (7) Subject Files, 1863-1999 (bulk 1970-1998); (8) Coded Files, 1836-1983 (bulk 1970-1983); (9) University Material, 1959, 1973-1998; (10) Personal Papers, 1966-1975, 1985-1994; (11) Notebooks, 1976-1999; (12) Card Files, undated; (13) Photographs, 1885-1990 (bulk 1980-1990); (14) Audiotapes, 1942, 1961, 1975-1976, 1998 (bulk 1975); (15) Realia, undated
Biographical Note:
Frank Spencer was born in Chatham, England, on May 1, 1941. Best known as a historian of biological anthropology and for his book Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery (1990), Spencer began his career as a medical laboratory technician, publishing two books on medical laboratory procedures in 1970 and 1972. He immigrated to Canada, where he earned his BA in anthropology at the University of Windsor in Ontario in 1973. The following year, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with C. Loring Brace as his advisor. Spencer wrote his dissertation on the life and career of Aleš Hrdlička and was awarded his PhD in biological anthropology in 1979. That same year he joined the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Queens College as an assistant professor and was soon promoted to department chair in 1984. Over the course of his career, he wrote and edited several books on the history of physical anthropology including A History of Physical Anthropology, 1930-1980 (1992), The Origins of Modern Humans: A World Survey of the Fossil Evidence (1984), Ecce Homo: An Annotated Bibliographic History of Physical Anthropology (1986), and History of Physical Anthropology: An Encyclopedia (1997). Spencer was also a co-founder and editor of the Physical Anthropology News bulletins. It was his book Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery, however, that garnered him the most attention. In this book, he theorized that the well-respected Sir Arthur Keith master-minded the Piltdown hoax. On May 30, 1999 Frank Spencer died of cancer at the age of 58.

1941 -- Born on May 1 in Chatham, Kent, England

1964 -- Obtained Associate diploma in Clinical Microbiology, [Britain], Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences

1966 -- Fellowship diploma in Clinical Parasitology

1971 -- Advanced diploma in Clinical Biochemistry & Microbiology, Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Technology

1973 -- BA (Anthropology) University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada

1974 -- MA (Biological Anthropology) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1976-1977 -- Adjunct Lecturer, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor

1979 -- PhD, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, "Biological Anthropology, Aleš Hrdlička, MD (1869-1943): A Chronicle of the Life and Work of an American Physical Anthropologist"

1979-1982 -- Hired as Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Queens College

1982 -- Published A History of American Physical Anthropology, 1930-1980

1983 -- Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Queens College

1984 -- Published The Origins of Modern Humans: A World Survey of the Fossil Evidence

1986 -- Full professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Queens College Published Ecce Homo: An Annotated Bibliographic History of Physical Anthropology

1990 -- Published Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery Published The Piltdown Papers 1908-1955: The Correspondence and Other Documents Relating to the Forgery

1997 -- Published The History of Physical Anthropology: An Encyclopedia

1999 -- Passed away on May 30 of cancer
Related Materials:
Aleš Hrdlička papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Provenance:
Donated in 2002 by Elena Peters-Spencer, wife of Frank Spencer.
Restrictions:
To protect the privacy of individuals, some materials have been separated and access to them has been restricted.

Access to the Frank Spencer papers requires and appointment.
Rights:
Contact repository for terms of use.
Topic:
Physical anthropology -- History  Search this
Physical anthropology -- frauds  Search this
Crohn's disease  Search this
Piltdown forgery  Search this
anthropometry  Search this
Language and languages -- Documentation  Search this
Citation:
Frank Spencer papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NAA.2002-21
See more items in:
Frank Spencer Papers
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-naa-2002-21

Supplementary note on the discovery of a paleolithic human skull and mandible at Piltdown (Sussex) / by Charles Dawson and Arthur Smith Woodward ; with an appendix by Grafton Elliot Smith

Author:
Dawson, Charles 1864-1916  Search this
Woodward, Arthur Smith 1864-1944  Search this
Smith, Grafton Elliot 1871-1937  Search this
Physical description:
p. [81]-99 : ill. ; 30 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1914
Topic:
Piltdown forgery  Search this
Call number:
GN282.5 .D39 1914
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_682984

The Piltdown forgery

Author:
Weiner, J. S (Joseph Sidney) 1915-  Search this
Subject:
Dawson, Charles 1864-1916  Search this
Physical description:
xxi, 214 p. illus., plates 20 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1955
Topic:
Piltdown forgery  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_470040

The Piltdown fantasy

Author:
Vere, Francis  Search this
Subject:
Dawson, Charles 1864-1916  Search this
Woodward, Arthur Smith 1864-1944  Search this
Physical description:
xvii, 120 p. map. 19 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1955
[1955]
Topic:
Piltdown forgery  Search this
Call number:
GN75.P5 V48
GN75.P5V48
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_120387

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