Review of Source Book for Social Origins
N. D. W.
Source Book for Social Origins : Ethnological Materials, Psychological Standpoint, Classed and Annotated Bibliographies for the Interpretation of Savage Society. By William J. Thomas. Chicago and London, 1909. Pp. (including indices) 932.
This is, so far as we know, the first attempt in anthropology to embody in one volume extracts from various periodicals and books that will bring before the reader the sections deemed best on the topics which the Editor wishes to present. At the end of each of these sections a brief discussion follows, summarising the section or criticising the procedure of the various writers represented. In the main, the selections seem to us the best that could be made, and the appended bibliographies are excellent. A most commendable thing about these latter is that they are more than a mere list of books and articles treating of the topic in question. The more important have been indicated by a star, and there are further guides, such as "admirable paper," "excellent," &c. At the end of one bibliography (p. 331), however, is the bracketed statement in small print " [Hall's Adolescence is omitted by " no oversight]." We are glad to know this. There is an ailment known as shortsightedness, and some suffer from a peripheral blindness that limits their field of vision. Not to mention the work lay within the discretion of the author, but to call attention to its absence in this way, whatever the theories of the editor may be, seems inexcusable to say the least. Discrimination and criticism we would have, and more of it, but not gratuitous insult. Suffice it to say that the monumental work on Adolescence by President Hall will probably not sink into innocuous desuetude because of a "no oversight" on the part of the editor.
Dr. Thomas's attitude is throughout safe and sane, and his own contribution to the volume is valuable. His studies, published in Sex and Society, have already made him known to anthropologists as a lucid and cautious thinker, and he has undoubtedly made a further contribution to the science of anthropology by placing before those students who have not access to a good anthropological library excellent selections from the sources not accessible to them.
The scope of the volume may be best indicated by giving the titles of the various parts :—Part I, The Relation of Society to Geographic and Economic Environment ; Part II, Mental Life and Education ; Part III, Invention and Technology ; Part IV, Sex and Marriage ; Part V, Art, Ornament, and Decoration ; Part VI, Magic, Religion, Myth ; Part VII, Social Organisation, Morals, the State ; Supplementary Bibliographies.
N. D. W.