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CHAPTER XVI

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR CONDUCTING ETHNOGRAPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS

IN THE BRITISH ISLANDS

A N influential committee was appointed by the British A Association in 1892 to conduct an ethnographical sur. vey of the United Kingdom.

COPY OF FIRST CIRCULAR “Sir,—The above-named Committee, in pursuance of the object for which they have been delegated by the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Folk-lore Society, the Dialect Society, and the Anthropological Institute, and appointed by the British Association, propose to record for certain typical villages and the neighbouring districts :

“ (1) Physical types of the inhabitants.

(2) Current traditions and beliefs.
(3) Peculiarities of dialect.
(4) Monuments and other remains of ancient culture ; and

(5) Historical evidence as to the continuity of race. “As a first step the Committee desire to form a list of such villages in the United Kingdom as appear especially to deserve ethnographic study, out of which a selection might afterwards be made for the survey. The villages or districts suitable for entry on the list are such as contain not less than a hundred adults, the large majority of whose forefathers have lived there as far back as can be traced, and of whom the desired physical measurements, with photographs, might be obtained.

"It is believed by the Committee that such villages may exist in the districts with which you are acquainted, and as you are eminently capable of affording help in this preliminary search, we have to request that you will do so by kindly furnishing the names of any that may occur to you, with a brief account of their several characteristics, mentioning at the same time the addresses of such of their residents as would be likely to support the Committee in pursuing their inquiry.

“ They would also be glad to be favoured with the names of any persons known to you in other districts to whom this circular letter might with propriety be addressed.”

In January, 1894, another circular was issued from which the following is extracted:

“They are sure you will excuse their urging what may at first sight appear to be trivial details, but which are in reality of great practical importance to those who have to arrange and consult a large collection of communications from different persons. These are, that the communications should all be written on foolscap paper, and that the writing should be on one side only of the page, and should never run so near the margin as to be an obstacle to future binding.

“ The Committee are satisfied that the value of the returns will be much reduced if they do not give information under all the several heads. If it should happen, therefore, that your own pursuits or means of information do not enable you to fill up the whole of the forms desired, they would take it as a particular favour if you could induce friends to supply the missing details, and thus to render the information complete.

“ The Committee, in addressing you individually, wish to disclaim any idea of interfering with the action of local societies, from many of which, on the contrary, they have reason to expect very valuable assistance. If it should suit your convenience to present to your local society an even fuller account of your observations than may be necessary to comply with the requirements of this Committee, such a course would be highly desirable, and it is hoped that the local societies will, on the other hand, give to the observers in their several districts all the encouragement and moral assistance that may be found practicable.

"All communications should be addressed to ‘THE SECRETARY OF THE ETHNOGRAPHIC SURVEY, British Association, Burlington House, London, W.'"

The work done by this committee will be found in the reports of the Association, but as yet no systematic survey of the British Islands has been attempted. The ethnographical survey of Ireland has been undertaken by a Dublin committee, which is supported by the Royal Irish Academy, and four comprehensive reports' have been published by that body. These reports are drawn up on the following lines:

1. Physiography of the district investigated. II. Anthropography.—1. Methods; 2. Physical characters with lists of measurements; 3. Vital statistics (general and economic), (A) Population, (B) Acreage and Rental, (C) Language and Education, (D) Health; 4. Psychology; 5. Folk Names. III. Sociology.-1. Occupations; 2. Family Life and Customs; 3. Food; 4. Clothing; 5. Dwellings; 6. Transport. IV. Folk-lore.-1. Customs and Beliefs; 2. Legends and Traditions; 3. Leechcraft. V. Archæology.-1. Survivals; 2. Antiquities. VI. History. VII. Ethnology. VIII. Bibliography.

?" The Ethnography of the Aran Islands, County Galway." by Prof. A. C. Haddon and Dr. C. R. Browne, Proc. Roy. Irish Acad. (3rd ser.), ii., 1893, pp. 768–830, pls. xxii.-xxiv. ; “ The Ethnography of Inishbofin and Inishshark, County Galway," by Dr. C. R. Browne, loc. cit., iii., 1894, pp. 317-370, pls. viii., ix. ; “ The Ethnography of the Mullet, Inishkea Islands and Portacloy, County Mayo," by Dr. C. R. Browne, loc. cit., iii., 1895, pp. 587-649, pls. xv.-xvii. ; “The Ethnography of Ballycroy, County Mayo,” by Dr. C. R. Browne, loc cit., iv., 1897, pp. 74-011, pls. iii., iv. ; “ The Ethnography of Clare Island and Inishturk, County Mayo," by C. R. Browne, loc. cit., iv., 1898.

It will be evident that this is a somewhat ambitious programme, and although in many instances the information given on a particular subject is meagre, owing to the very limited time available for work in the field, it was considered best to keep to the general scheme in order to emphasise the fact that in all investigations of this kind the widest possible outlook must be maintained.

1.-INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING CERTAIN SOMATOLOGICAL

OBSERVATIONS

1. Hair and Eye Colours

I have already (pp. 23–26) given an account of Dr. Beddoe's methods of recording the colours of the hair and eyes; it only remains to add a few practical hints which I also cull from The Races of Britain (p. 4):

“When unable to decide in which of two columns (e. g., B or D) an individual ought to be inscribed, I divide him between the two, by a Solomonian judgment, and set down 1, or .5, in each of them.

“When engaged in this work, I set down in his proper place on my card of observation every person (with the exceptions to be mentioned presently) whom I meet, or who passes me within a short distance, say from one to three yards. As a rule I take no note of persons who apparently belong to the upper classes, as these are more migratory and more often mixed in blood. I neglect those whom I suppose to be under age-fixing the point roughly at eighteen or twenty for men, seventeen or eighteen for women-as well as all those whose hair has begun to grizzle. Thus I get a fairly uniform material to work upon, though doubtless the hair of most people does darken considerably between twenty and forty or fifty. In order to preserve perfect fairness, I always examine first, out of any group of persons, the one who is nearest, rather than the one to whom my attention is most drawn. Certain colours of the hair, such as red, certain shades of the eye, such as light grey, can be discerned at a very considerable distance; but I take no note of anyone who does not approach me so nearly that I can recognise the more obscure colours. Much allowance needs to be made for the varying effects of light. Direct sunlight is better avoided when possible; I always choose the shady side of a street on a sunny day. Considerable difficulties are created by the freaks of fashion. I once visited Friesland, in order to study the physical type of that region. Conceive my disappointment when I found myself surrounded by comely damsels and buxom matrons, not one of whom suffered a single yellow hair to stray beyond her lace cap or silver-gilt head-plate. When I began to work in England dark hair was in fashion among women; and light and reddish hues were dulled with greasy unguents. In later years fair hair has been more in vogue; and golden shades, sometimes unknown to nature, are produced by art. Among men, on the other hand, the close cropping of the head, borrowed from the French, makes comparisons difficult. Fortunately, most vagaries of this kind are little prevalent in the classes among whom I seek my material.

“ It may be objected that there is no security that many of the persons observed may not be aliens to the place or neighbourhood wherein they are encountered. Certainly; there is no such security. But if a sufficient number of observations be secured, and the upper and other notoriously migratory classes (who are mostly easy of recognition) be excluded, the probability is immense that the great majority of the remainder have been born within a moderate radius of the centre of observation; and the majority will determine the position of the community in my chromatic scale.”

Personally I am rather inclined to think it would be a good plan, when marking the “ niger" column, to make a slightly different mark for those cases in which the hair is known to be absolutely black, i. e., when it shows black under all conditions of light and when quite dry.

Many opportunities present themselves for collecting

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