Thomas Dale Stewart was a physical and forensic anthropologist and worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History from 1931 until his death in 1997. He worked under Ales Hrdlicka until 1943, became the head curator in 1960, director of the museum in 1962, and retired in 1971. Stewart's research interests included physical and forensic anthropology and archaeology, mostly in North and South America. He also worked with the F.B.I. frequently to aid in homicide investigations, and worked extensively with the U.S. Army to identify skeletal remains from the Korean War in Operation Glory. The Thomas Dale Stewart Papers primarily deal with his life and career at the Smithsonian, particularly his research projects and publications between 1931 and 1991. Materials consist mainly of correspondence, photographic material, dossiers based on writings and research projects, and administrative files.
Scope and Contents:
The Thomas Dale Stewart Papers document his research and professional activities from 1931 to 1991 and primarily deal with his anthropological and archaeological research in North and South America. There is also significant material related to ancient human skeletal remains found in Egypt and the Middle East, Stewart's work identifying skeletal remains for the U.S. Army (Operation Glory), and the history of physical and forensic anthropology. Material documenting Stewart's work with Ales Hrdlicka and other colleagues are also represented in this collection. The collection consists of correspondence, writings and research files, project data, skeletal data punch cards, photographic and illustration materials, and administrative and financial papers.
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 As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today.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.
This collection is arranged in 9 series: Series 1. Biographical and Background, 1937-1983; Series 2. Correspondence, 1931-1990; Series 3. Writings and Research, 1875, 1902-1990; Series 4. Operation Glory, 1954-1957; Series 5. Professional Organizations, 1930-1990; Series 6. Trip Files, 1945-1985; Series 7. Teaching and Lectures, 1950-1970; Series 8. Exhibit Material, 1961-1969; Series 9. Photographs, 1928-1979.
Thomas Dale Stewart was a curator of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian specializing in anthropometry, early man, and forensic anthropology. He worked in the Department of Anthropology for over seventy years. Born in Delta, Pennsylvania in 1901, Stewart moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue a degree at George Washington University. While attending school, he also began working at the Smithsonian in 1924 as a temporary substitute for John Baer, a family friend from Delta. After Baer died during conducting research in Panama, Stewart was invited to stay on as assistant to Ales Hrdlicka, curator of physical anthropology. Hrdlicka was impressed by Stewart's abilities and quickly took him on as a student. Promised that he would succeed Hrdlicka one day if he obtained an M.D., Stewart enrolled at The Johns Hopkins University and graduated in 1931. After graduating, Stewart was rehired by the Smithsonian as an assistant curator.
Stewart rose through the ranks of the Department of Anthropology quickly, being promoted to associate curator in 1939 and curator in 1943 after the death of his mentor Hrdlicka. Stewart was appointed head curator of the department in 1960 and director of the Natural History Museum in 1962. He continued to work at the Smithsonian well after he retired in 1971, conducting research and producing a stream of publications well into his 90s. He died in 1997 at the age of 96.
Many of Stewart's early research interests matched those of his mentor: a focus on dental caries, separate neural arch and spondylolisthesis, ossuary excavation, cranial deformations, and other examinations of archaeological remains throughout North America. While Hrdlicka was alive, Stewart provided support for many of his research projects and publications. After Hrdlicka died, Stewart expanded his interests to include forensic topics and analysis of other archaeological remains.
Anthropometry was prominent in a great deal of his work. He was the first to describe Tepexpan Man from Mexico and Midland Man from Texas. He also studied the remains of Neanderthal specimens that Ralph S. Solecki, of the Bureau of American Ethnology, had uncovered at Shanidar Cave in Iraq. In forensic work, as Hrdlicka's heir, Stewart assumed work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement officials. Moreover, Stewart devised new methods and published books and articles concerning forensic analysis, including his Essentials of Forensic Anthropology. In closely related work during 1954-1955, the United States Army engaged Stewart to go to Japan to examine skeletal remains repatriated after the Korean War in a project called "Operation Glory."
In terms of his areal specialization, Stewart was essentially an Americanist. In North America, he worked in Alaska with Henry B. Collins in 1927, and in subsequent years he excavated several ossuaries and other sites in the Washington, D.C., vicinity. These included a site on Potomac Creek in Virginia, Piscataway sites in Maryland, and the Townsend site in Delaware. He also carried out laboratory studies and prepared reports on skeletal remains uncovered by Smithsonian colleagues. In the 1940s and 1950s, Stewart conducted field work at archaeological sites in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru.
He was awarded the Viking Medal in Physical Anthropology in 1953, the Joseph Henry Medal of the Smithsonian Institution in 1967, and an award from the physical anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in 1981.
Ubelaker, Douglas H. "Thomas Dale Stewart, A Biographer Memoir," National Academy of Sciences, 2006.
Pace, Eric. "T. Dale Stewart Dies at 96; Anthropologist at Smithsonian," The New York Times, 1997.
1901 -- Born in Delta, Pennsylvania.
1922-1927 -- Moved to Washington, D.C. and attended George Washington University.
1924 -- Began working at the Smithsonian Institution.
1927 -- Sent by Ales Hrdlicka to Alaska to collect skeletal remains with Henry Collins.
1931 -- Graduated from The Johns Hopkins University with an M.D.
1931 -- Appointed assistant curator at the Smithsonian under Hrdlicka.
1939 -- Promoted to associate curator.
1939 -- Field work in Mexico.
1941 -- Field work in Peru.
1943 -- Taught at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
1943 -- Promoted to curator after Hrdlicka dies.
1943 -- Began working on forensic cases for the F.B.I.
1945 -- Field work in Mexico.
1949 -- Field work in Peru.
1947, 1949 -- Field work in Guatemala.
1954-1955 -- Traveled to Japan to assist in the identification of skeletal remains from the Korean War (Operation Glory).
1957-1967 -- Taught at the George Washington University School of Medicine.
1960-1962 -- Served as head curator of the Department of Anthropology.
1962-1965 -- Served as the director of the National Museum of Natural History.
1964 -- Assisted in the production of Smithsonian exhibits on physical anthropology.
1966 -- Retired from administrative duties and appointed senior scientist.
1971 -- Retired from the Smithsonian.
1997 -- Died in Bethesda, Maryland.
The following manuscripts related to Stewart and his work can be found at the NAA:
NAA MS 1615- Excavations in Mancos Canyon, Colorado September 1943.
NAA MS 4669- The Townsend Site Near Lewes, Delaware 1962 by Henri Omwake.
NAA MS 4843- Report by T. Dale Stewart on Human Skeletal Material Excavated by W.M. Walker at Cedar Grove Cave, Arkansas and Natchitoches, Louisiana.
NAA MS 7025- A Tentative Closing Report on the Willin Site, Eldorado, Maryland September 1, 1952.
NAA MS 7121- "Memories from Half a Century at the Smithsonian January 11, 1978" recording.
NAA MS 7223- The Townsend Site January 1950.
NAA MS 7264- Documents Concerning Preserved Paleolithic Human Remains Found in the Vicinity of Cueva, Spain 1969-1972.
NAA MS 7357- Material Relating to Dermatoglyphics of Mayan Groups ca. 1947-1949.
NAA MS 7358- Personal Identification in Mass Disasters December 9-11 1968.
NAA MS 7359- T. Dale Stewart on the Identification of Human Remains April 6, 1970.
NAA MS 7474- Sketches of Burials at Ossuary 2, Juhle Site ca. 1971-1972.
Additional material T. Dale Stewart created while assisting Ales Hrdlicka is located at the National Anthropological Archives, The Papers of Ales Hrdlicka, ca. 1887-1943.
Many objects and artifact materials collected by T. Dale Stewart throughout his career are also held by the Smithsonian Department of Anthropology. These include skeletal remains and other materials from the Shanidar Cave in Iraq, forensic anthropological material including bone casts from Operation Glory, archaelogical materials from excavations in Maryland and Virginia including the Nanjemoy and Potomac Creek sites, and skeletal remains and other related materials from Stewart's 1927 expedition to Alaska with Henry Collins. Contact Anthropological Collections for more information.
Materials were transferred from T. Dale Stewart to the National Anthropological Archives in multiple accretions between 1975 and 2000 under accessions 1981-52, 1981-59, 1986-04, 1988-15, 1988-33, 1995-04, 1998-61, and 2000-46.The bulk of materials in this collection were transferred to the NAA from the Department of Anthropology in 1994 (1995-04).
The Thomas Dale Stewart papers are open for research.
The papers of Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki, 1904-2017 (bulk 1951-1999) primarily document their archaeological excavations and subsequent analysis of sites in Southwest Asia including Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq; Yabroud, Syria; and Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon primarily during the 1950s-1980s. The papers also include their work at other sites throughout the Near East and North America and files relating to the professional careers at the Smithsonian Institution, Columbia University, and Texas A&M University. The collection consists of field notes, data and analysis, manuscript drafts, publications, correspondence, illustrations and maps, photographic prints, negatives, slides, and recorded film.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki document their archaeological excavations and subsequent analysis of sites in Southwest Asia including Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq; Yabroud, Syria; Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon primarily during the 1950s-1980s. The papers also reflect their academic careers as students and faculty at Columbia University, staff at the Smithsonian Institution, and adjunct faculty at Texas A&M University.
The bulk of the collection consists of materials relating to the Soleckis' archaeological excavations at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq (1951-1960); Yabroud, Syria and locations in Turkey as part of the Columbia University Near East expeditions (or C.U.N.E.) (1963-1965, 1981, 1987-1988); Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon (1969-1973). These materials include field notebooks, excavation catalogs, research notes, data analysis, manuscript drafts, publications, correspondence, illustrations, maps, photographs, slides, sound recordings, and film. Similar materials from other expeditions and projects include aerial photography projects in the 1950s-1960s; expeditions to Alaska in 1949 and 1961; expeditions to Sudan (as part of the Columbia University Nubian Expedition, also abbreviated C.U.N.E.) and Iran in the 1960s-1970s; Rose's work in Peru and Afghanistan in the 1950s; and various archaeological projects elsewhere in North America such as Ralph's work with the River Basin Surveys in the 1940s-1950s contain similar materials.
The papers also contain research and teaching files in the form of annotated publications, course materials, student theses, and other files from their time as students and faculty at Columbia University, staff at the Smithsonian Institution, and adjunct faculty at Texas A&M University. Correspondence and administrative files such as grant applications, daybooks, and departmental forms and files from their professional careers are also within the collection. Personal files, while sparse, are also represented.
Please note that the collection contains images of human remains.
The Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki papers are divided into 7 series:
• Series 1: Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Iraq, 1947-2017 (bulk 1951-1990)
• Series 2: Yabroud, Syria and Other Localities, 1950-2017 (bulk 1964-1988)
• Series 3: Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon, 1968-2008 (bulk 1969-1973)
• Series 4: Other Expeditions and Projects, 1930-1986, 2006
• Series 5: Research and Teaching Files, 1912-2012 (bulk 1950-2000)
• Series 6: Correspondence and Administrative Files, 1937-2020 (bulk: 1950-2000)
• Series 7: Personal Files, 1902-2014 (bulk: 1950-2000)
Biographical / Historical:
Ralph S. Solecki (1917-2019) and Rose L. Solecki (b. 1925) are archaeologists that worked in the Near East at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq (1951-1960); Yabroud, Syria (1963-1965, 1981, 1987); and Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh in Lebanon (1969-1973). Ralph Solecki also conducted archaeological field work in North America at sites in Nebraska, Alaska, and New York as well as with the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Surveys. From 1958-1988, Ralph Solecki was a professor of anthropology at Columbia University. The Soleckis became adjunct faculty at Texas A&M University.
Stefan Ralph Solecki was born on October 15th, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Newtown High School in 1936, he attended the City College of New York from 1936-1941 and received a B.S. in Geology in 1942. Solecki then served in the US Army and fought in World War II. He was discharged in 1945. In 1946, Solecki enrolled at Columbia University to study Anthropology, and he received a M.A. degree in 1950. During this time, Solecki worked for the River Basin Surveys at the Smithsonian Institution. He also accompanied a geological survey to northern Alaska in 1949 (and later in 1961). In 1951, he became an associate curator of archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution. In that same year, he traveled to Iraq to survey prehistoric sites and began Season I of excavation at Shanidar Cave. Solecki then received a Fulbright fellowship to return to Iraq in 1953-1954 to continue excavations at Shanidar Cave (Season II) and conduct research at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. In 1958, he received his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and accepted a faculty position within the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. Following the final two seasons of excavation at Shanidar Cave (see below for details on Season III and IV), Solecki led a number of Columbia University expeditions to various locations around the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. He also spent three seasons (1963-1964, 1981, 1987) surveying and excavating the site of Yabroud in Syria and three field seasons excavating the sites of Nahr Ibrahim (1969, 1970, 1973) and El Masloukh (1969) in Lebanon. Solecki retired from Columbia University in 1988.
Rose Muriel (née Lilien) Solecki was born on November 18th, 1925 in New York City, New York. She completed her undergraduate studies in Anthropology from Hunter College in 1945, and she went on to receive her M.A. and PhD degrees in Anthropology from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she joined the American Museum of Natural History's 2nd expedition to Afghanistan in 1950. She also studied under William Duncan Strong and joined Strong's excavations in Peru from 1952-1953. Rose Solecki acted as a research associate within the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University until Ralph Solecki's retirement in 1988.
Ralph and Rose met at Columbia University as students and married in 1955. In 1956-1957, both Ralph and Rose Solecki travelled to Iraq, where Ralph conducted a third season of excavation at Shanidar Cave and Rose excavated the nearby Zawi Chemi Shanidar village site. In 1960, the Soleckis returned for a fourth and final field season of excavation at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar, where they were accompanied by Smithsonian Institution curator of Physical Anthropology, T. Dale Stewart. Ralph and Rose Solecki both held positions at Columbia University until Ralph's retirement in 1988. In 1990, Ralph and Rose served as adjunct professors at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. In 2000, they left Texas A&M University and moved to South Orange, New Jersey.
Ralph Solecki died in Livingston, New Jersey on March 20, 2019.
Chronology of the Life of Ralph S. Solecki
1917 October 15 -- Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
1942 -- B.S. in Geology from City College of New York
1942-1945 -- Served in the United States Army during World War II
1948 -- Started working with the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Surveys
1948-1949 -- Accompanied a United States Geological Survey party to the upper Kokpowruk and Kokolik rivers at the Brooks Range in northwestern Alaska
1950 -- M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University
1951 -- First field season at Shanidar Cave, Iraq
1953-1954 -- Fulbright fellowship to conduct fieldwork in Iraq Second field season at Shanidar Cave, Iraq Shanidar Child skeleton discovered
1955 -- Married Rose M. Lilien
1956-1957 -- Third field season at Shanidar Cave, Iraq Shanidar I, II, and III skeletons discovered
1958 -- Appointed Associate Curator of Archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University Accepted post at Columbia University as Associate Professor of Anthropology
1960 -- Fourth field season at Shanidar Cave Shanidar IV, V, VI, VII (or IV-VII), and VIII skeletons discovered
1961-1962 -- Columbia University Nubian Expedition to Sudan
1963 -- Columbia University Near East (C.U.N.E.) Expedition to Seberde, Turkey and Yabroud, Syria
1964-1965 -- Columbia University Near East (C.U.N.E.) Expedition to Yabroud, Syria
1969-1973 -- Three field seasons at Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon
1971 -- Authored Shanidar: The First Flower People
1981 -- Archaeological survey at Yabroud, Syria
1987-1988 -- Field season at Yabroud, Syria
1988 -- Retired from Columbia University
1990-2000 -- Served as Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University
2004 -- Coauthored The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave with Rose L. Solecki and Anagnostis P. Agelarakis
2019 March 20 -- Died in Livingston, New Jersey
Chronology of the Life of Rose L. Solecki
1925 November 18 -- Born in New York City, New York
circa 1945 -- B.S. in Anthropology at Hunter College
1946 -- Enrolled at Columbia University
1950 -- Joined the American Museum of Natural History's Second Archaeological Expedition to Afghanistan
1952-1953 -- Field season in Peru under William Duncan Strong
1956 -- PhD from Columbia University
1956-1957 -- First field season at Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Iraq
1960 -- Second field season at Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Iraq
1990-2000 -- Served as Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University
2004 -- Coauthored The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave with Ralph S. Solecki and Anagnostis P. Agelarakis
The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's Department of Anthropology contains archaeological and ethnological collections relating to the work of Ralph and Rose Solecki including accession numbers 187539, 187542, 189439, 202536, 209544, 217009, 220078, 220920, 224347, 224956, 228740, 232170, 242336, 249217, 356696. Accession 220078 contains archaeological and archaeobiological material excavated by Ralph and Rose Solecki at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar. An accretion transferred in 2016 was cataloged as part of the Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki Papers and Artifacts Project (2017-2019) and cross-references excavation and artifact analysis within the Solecki papers.
The NMNH Department of Anthropology's Collections also holds uncatalogued material from the Yabroud sites as well as material from Turkey potentially excavated during the 1963 field season; the Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh sitesin Lebanon in 1969, 1970, and 1973; Europe including material from France, Poland, England, Denmark, and Belgium in the 1960s; and from Sudan during the Columbia University Nubian Expedition (CUNE) to Sudan and Egypt in 1961.
The Iraq Museum in Baghdad holds archaeolgical material from the Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar sites excavated by Ralph and Rose Solecki.
Archaeological material excavated by Ralph Solecki from the Yabroud sites in Syria is held at the National Museum of Damascus in Syria.
Texas A&M University's Anthropology Research Collections holds material excavated by the Soleckis from the Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh sites and possibly material from Shanidar Cave.
Records relating to the American Museum of Natural History's Expeditions to Afghanistan may be found in the Special Collections of the American Museum of Natural History's Research Library as well as a collection titled "Field diary, Second Afghan Expedition, American Museum of Natural History, 1950-08 - 1951-02" at the Harvard University Library.
Artifacts and archival material excavated and created by the Soleckis from the 1968 field season at the Tepe Seavan site in Iran can be found at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Archaeological and archival material related to the Soleckis work in New York and surrounding localities are housed at the American Museum of Natural History and other local historical societies.
Materials containing personally identifiable information (PII) and born digital materials have been separated, and research access is restricted. In some instances, documents have been copied and redacted; however, in other cases, the entire file has been restricted. Please contact the repository for more information about restricted materials.
Photographs of anthropologists were also separated and added to Photo Lot 92-35.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Ralph and Rose Solecki and their sons, John and William, in 2016, 2018, and 2019.
Reviews the history of the Division of Physical Anthropology and the medical duties of the curators of physical anthropology, and begins a discussion of his Shanidar Neanderthal work, c. 1900-1975, including: history of the Division of Physical Anthrop...
Stewart, T. D. (Thomas Dale), 1901-1997, interviewee Search this
Restricted. Recording of interview 13 may not be reproduced without permission. Contact SIHistory@si.edu for permission.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9521, T. D. Stewart Oral History Interviews