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Archival description
Black (Davidson) Family fonds Series
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Diaries

Series consists of Adena Black's diaries from 1913-1918, from the time of her marriage to Davidson Black through the First World War.

Film

This series consists of five films made by Dr. Black. Four are home movies documenting his children, Davy and Nevitt; one is of the Summer Palace and Elliott Smith in Peking in 1930.

Publications and addresses

This series documents only one of Davidson Black’s publications, but more of his addresses, in particular some he delivered in 1925 before his discovery of Peking Man, and the Croonian Lecture in December 1932 that cemented the acceptance of his research.

Employment

Except for photographs, this series contains little documentation on Davidson Black’s employment before 1917 when he enlisted with the Canadian Army Medical Corps and went overseas. The bulk of this series relates to his work in China at the Peking Union Medical College, his anthropological research including his discovery of "Peking man", and his travels within China and to Mongolia, India, Siam, and elsewhere.

The files contain correspondence, photographs, addresses, and publications (including some drafts), and memorabilia. Most of the photographs were taken by Dr. Black himself, though some were taken by Adena and others (especially presentation copies) by friends and colleagues. Dr. Black carefully annotated many of the photos he took, often in considerable detail even to the time of day and the shutter speed used. Included are a few glass-plate negatives and about 50 lantern slides. The negatives are usually dated and were kept except if they were in good condition. On his travels, Dr. Black collected autographed photographs of many of the scientists and academics he met; these are included in this series.

Education

This series contains certificates and diplomas, correspondence, course and lab notes, term papers and memorabilia documenting aspects of Davidson Black’s education, running from the Wellesley School through Harbord Collegiate and the Faculties of Medicine and Arts at the University of Toronto. There is also a file on Davidson’s summer project in 1907 to earn money for his Bachelor of Arts program, prospecting in the Temagami Forest Reserve.

Correspondence

There are two correspondents with Davidson Black in this series: his mother, Margaret, and, especially, his wife, Adena. There are large gaps in the letters received from his mother. There are scattered letters for the years 1905, 1908, 1912 and 1920. A substantial number exist only for the years 1921 to 1927.

More of Adena’s letters to Davidson have survived. In the early years of their relationship, she numbered her letters; 95 numbered ones (along with several unnumbered ones and postcards) were written between 24 July 1912 and the end of 1913. Only one, #80, is missing here. After their marriage, the number of letters Adena wrote to Davidson fell off sharply, but not as sharply as the gaps in this series would indicate. There are only four letters for 1914, all written in January (they were together for most of the year, including their trip to Europe), and none thereafter until 1920. This means there are no letters for the period when Davidson was on active service during World War I (June 1917 to January 1919). There is only one letter present for 1920, none for 1921, and five for 1922. For the next, decade, until August 1933, there are a good number of letters, as the Blacks were often separated for weeks or months at a time.

The remainder of this series contains letters sent to and/or received from relatives and friends, including Professor J. J. R. Macleod; his file also contains one his hand-painted Christmas cards.

Personal

Davidson Black kept a diary throughout much of his adult life. There are 28 volumes in this series. The earliest is for 1902, the year he entered medicine at the University of Toronto; it includes a tally of monthly expenses. The last diary is for 1934, the final entry being for 9 March, six days before his death. For each of the years 1922 and 1925, there are two volumes of diaries. There are no diaries present for the years 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911, and 1912. The diary Davidson kept while on active service during World War I is filed with his service records in Series 4. Most of the entries are brief as the diaries, except for 1902, are small. Some of the loose entries with the diaries are longer.

A number of items document his personal activities. The earliest is a small well-thumbed copy of 'The Book of Common Prayer', presented to him by his mother on his 9th birthday in 1893. A notebook, a journal, and permits document his early interest in ornithology. Finally, there are files of memorabilia, poems and sketches, and on honours bestowed on him later in life, along with twelve diplomas and certificates.