Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

Ashley Montagu Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: Feb 1968

Biographical History

Ashley Montagu (1905-1999) was a British anthropologist and social biologist, perhaps best known for his critical analysis of the question of race.

Montague Francis Ashley Montagu was born Israel Ehrenberg in London, England on June 28, 1905. He studied at the University of London (1922-1925) and the University of Florence (1928-1929). He came to the United States in 1930, received his Ph.D. in 1937 from Columbia, and was naturalized in 1940.

Montagu's first professional position was as a Research Associate at the British Museum of Natural History (1926-1927). Over his career he was Assistant Professor of Anatomy at New York University (1931-1938), Associate Professor of Anatomy at the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital (1939-1949), Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University (1949-1955), Regents Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1962); and lecturer at Princeton University (1978-1983). Montagu and his wife, Marjorie Helen Peakes, had three children.

Montagu was deeply interested in applying the findings of the social and biological sciences to the improvement of the human condition; Marcus Goldstein of Tel Aviv University remembered him for his "fearless and blunt attack on works and issues that he felt were scientifically wrong, and perhaps more important, were or could be socially harmful." (quoted in Steven Harnad's article "Ashley Montagu: Anthropologist And Social Biologist"). He wrote more than 50 books and many more articles related to the field of anthropology and social biology. Among his best-known books are Coming Into Being Among the Australian Aborigines (1937), Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (1942), The Natural Superiority of Women (1953), The Elephant Man (1971), Race and IQ (1975), The Nature of Human Aggression (1976), and The Dehumanization of Man (1983). He was the producer, author and director of the film "One World or None" (1946).

The deepest defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has in fact become. -- Ashley Montagu

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ashley Montagu Papers include correspondence, subject files, manuscripts, and published material.

Correspondence consists of two incoming letters.

Subject files consists of one photograph of Ashley Montagu signed by the photographer, Editta Sherman, and assorted other photographs, including one of Montagu with Albert Einstein.

Manuscripts includes those of books by Montagu ( Human Heredity; The Biosocial Nature of Man; Anthropology: An Introduction to the Study of Man), and essays (Mothering; What is a Child; and The Role of the Social Sciences), books edited by Montagu ( The Concept of Race; Culture and the Evolution of Man: and Genetic Mechanisms in Human Disease), a discussion series with Virgilia Peterson on "The Nature of Human Nature," and manuscripts of others (Isadore Rubin, Sexual Life After Sixty).

Published material includes bulletins, journals, a news release, magazine articles, pamphlets, programs and reprints containing articles, speeches or book reviews by Montagu or material about him or his activities.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by sender. Montagu's manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by type and within that alphabetically by title. Manuscripts of others are arranged alphabetically by author and one unsigned manuscript appears at the end of the series. Published material is subdivided alphabetically by type; within that, magazine articles are arranged chronologically while reprints are arranged alphabetically by title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Montagu, Ashley, 1905-1999.


Anthropologists -- United States.
British Americans.
Physical anthropology.

Genres and Forms

Book reviews.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Ashley Montagu Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Photographs, except for Sherman one, gift of American Philosophical Society, 2010.

Table of Contents


Subject files


Published material