Negro entry in 1911 encyclopedia

So, years ago, some company OCRs the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica and puts it online. Hilarity ensues:
The 1911 Encyclopedia, or the LoveToKnow Free Online Encyclopedia, is advertised as "what many consider to be the best encyclopedia ever written. As a research tool, this 1911 encyclopedia edition is unparalleled - even today." But what about the definition for Negro? It reads in part: "A dark skin, varying from dark brown, reddish-brown, or chocolate to nearly black; dark tightly curled hair, flat in transverse section,1 of the 'woolly' or the 'frizzly' type; a greater or less tendency to prognathism; eyes dark brown with yellowish cornea; nose more or less broad and flat; and large teeth." Can an encyclopedia with definitions like these be considered useful at all?
posted by josephtate (40 comments total)

Yes, it's now objectionable to point out negroes have dark skin, nappy hair, and so forth (or so believes the eunuch above). Later (and perhaps not in direct response to the post I've cited), 1911encyclopedia excise their "Negro" entry. For those who may be interested, I reproduce the entry below. It's cleaned up a bit compared to what appeared on, but no doubt errors remain. Scans of the actual pages may be viewed here. See also "Negro Race" in a Catholic encyclopedia of the same era.
NEGRO (from Lat. niger, black), in anthropology, the designation of the distinctly dark-skinned, as opposed to the fair, yellow, and brown variations of mankind. In its widest sense it embraces all the dark races, whose original home is the intertropical and sub-tropical regions of the eastern hemisphere, stretching roughly from Senegambia, West Africa, to the Fijian Islands in the Pacific, between the extreme parallels of the Philippines and Tasmania. It is most convenient, however, to refer to the dark-skinned inhabitants of this zone by the collective term of Negroids, and to reserve the word Negro for the tribes which are considered to exhibit in the highest degree the characteristics taken as typical of the variety.

These tribes are found in Africa; their home, being south of the Sahara and north of a not very well-defined line running roughly from the Gulf of Biafra with a south-easterly trend across the equator to the mouth of the Tana. In this tract are found the true negroes; and their nearest relatives, the Bantu-negroids, are found to the south of the last-mentioned line. The relation of the yellowish-brown Bushman and Hottentot peoples of the southern extremity of Africa to the negro is uncertain; they possess certain negroid characters, the tightly curled hair, the broad nose, the tendency towards prognathism; but their color and a number of psychological and cultural differences would seem to show that the relation is not close. Between the two a certain affinity seems to exist, and the Hottentot is probably the product of an early intermixture of the first Hamito-Bantu immigrants with the Bushman aborigines (see AFRICA: Ethnology). The relation of the negroids of Africa to those of Asia (southern India and Malaysia) and Australasia cannot be discussed with profit owing to lack of evidence; still less the theories which have been put forward to account for the wide dispersal from what seems to be a single stock. It will be sufficient to say that the two groups have in common a number of well-defined characteristics of which the following are the chief: A dark skin, varying from dark brown, reddish-brown, or chocolate to nearly black; dark tightly curled hair, flat in transverse section,1 of the "woolly" or the "frizzly" type; a greater or less tendency to prognathism; eyes dark brown with yellowish cornea; nose more or less broad and flat; and large teeth.

Sharing these characteristics, but distinguished by short stature and brachycephaly, is a group to which the name Negrito (q.v.) has been given; with this exception the tendency among the negroids appears to be towards tall stature and dolichoce-phaly in proportion as they approach the pure negro type. As the most typical representatives of the variety are found in Africa, the Asiatic and Australasian negroids may be dismissed with this introduction. The negro and negroid population of America, the descendants of the slaves imported from West Africa, and in a less degree, from the Mozambique coast, before the abolition of the. slave-trade, are treated separately below.

In Africa three races have intermingled to a certain extent with the negro; the Libyans (Berbers: q.v.) in the Western Sudan-; and the Hamitic races (q.v.) and Arabs (q.v.) in the east. The identity of the people who have amalgamated with the negro to form the Bantu-speaking peoples in the southern portion of the continent is not certain, but as the latter appear to approach the Hamites in those characteristics in which they differ from the true negroes, it seems probable that they are infusec with a proportion of Hamitic blood. The true negroes show greal similarity of physical characteristics; besides those already mentioned they are distinguished by length of arm, especially of fore arm, length of leg, smallness of calf and projection of heel characteristics which frequently fail to appear to the same degree among the Bantu, who are also as a rule less tall, less prognathous, less platyrrhine and less dark. A few tribes in the heart of the negro domain (the Welle district of Belgian Congo) show a endency to round head, shorter stature and fairer complexion; mt there seems reason to suppose that they have received an nfusion of Libyan (or less probably Hamitic) or Negrito blood.

The color of the skin, which is also distinguished by a velvety surface and a characteristic odour, is due not to the presence of any special pigment, but to the greater abundance of the coloring matter in the Malpighian mucous membrane between the inner or true skin and the epidermis or scarf skin.2 This coloring matter is not distributed equally over the body, and does not reach its fullest development until some weeks after birth; so that new-born babies are a reddish chocolate or copper color. But excess of pigmentation is not confined to the skin; spots of pigment are often found in some of the internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, &c. Other characteristics appear to be a liypertrophy of the organs of excretion, a more developed venous system, and a less voluminous brain, as compared with the white races.

In certain of the characteristics mentioned above the negro would appear to stand on a lower evolutionary plane than the white man, and to be more closely related to the highest anthropoids. The characteristics are length of arm, prognathism, a heavy massive cranium with large zygomatic arches, flat nose depressed at base, &c. But in one important respect, the character of the hair, the white man stands in closer relation to the higher apes than does the Negro.

Mentally the negro is inferior to the white. The remark of F. Manetta, made after a long study of the negro in America, may be taken as generally true of the whole race: "the negro children were sharp, intelligent and full of vivacity, but on approaching the adult period a gradual change set in. The intellect seemed to become clouded, animation giving place to a sort of lethargy, briskness yielding to indolence. We must necessarily suppose that the development of the negro and white proceeds on different lines. While with the latter the volume of the brain grows with the expansion of the brainpan, in the former the growth of the brain is on the contrary arrested by the premature closing of the cranial sutures and lateral pressure of the frontal bone.3 This explanation is reasonable and even probable as a contributing cause; but evidence is lacking on the subject and the arrest or even deterioration in mental development is no doubt very largely due to the fact that after puberty sexual matters take the first place in the negro's life and thoughts. At the same time his environment has not been such as would tend to produce in him the restless energy which has led to the progress of the white race; and the easy conditions of tropical life and the fertility of the soil have reduced the struggle for existence to a minimum. But though the mental inferiority of the negro to the white or yellow races is a fact, it has often been exaggerated; the negro is largely the creature of his environment,
1 This point has been fully determined by P. A. Brown (Classification of Mankind by the Hair, &c.), who shows conclusively that unlike true hair and like true wool, the negro hair is flat, issues from the epidermis at a right angle, is spirally twisted or crisped, has no central duct, the coloring matter being disseminated through the cortex and intermediate fibres, while the cortex itself is covered with numerous rough, pointed filaments adhering loosely to the shaft lastly, the negro pile will felt, like wool, whereas true hair cannot be felted.

2 It is also noteworthy that the dark color seems to depend neither on geographical position, the isothermals of greatest heat, nor even altogether on racial purity. The extremes of the chromatic scale are found in juxtaposition throughout the whole negro domain, in Senegambia, the Gabun, upper Nile basin, lower Congo, Shari valley, Mozambique. In the last region M de Froberville determined the presence of thirty-one different shades from dusky or yellow-brown to sooty black. Some of the sub-negroid and mixed races, such as many Abyssinians, Galla, Jolof and Mandingo, are quite as black as the darkest full-blood negro. A general similarity in the outward conditions of soil, atmosphere, climate, food charged with an excess of carbon, such as the fruit of the butter-tree, and other undetermined causes have tended to develop a tendency towards dark shades everywhere in the negro domain apart from the bias mainly due to an original stain of black blood. Perhaps the most satisfactory theory explains the excessive development of pigment in the dark-skinned races as a natural protection against the ultra-violet rays in which tropical light is so rich and which are destructive of protoplasm (see C. E. Woodruff, Tropical Light, London, 1905). The expression " jet black " is applied by Schweinfurth to the upper-Nilotic Shilluk, Nuer and Dinka, while the neighboring Bongo and Mittu are described as of a "red-brown" color "like the soil upon which they reside" (Heart of Africa, vol. i. ch. iv.).

3 La Razza Negra nel suo stato selvaggio, &c. (Turin, 1864), p.

and it is not fair to judge of his mental capacity by tests taken directly from the environment of the white man, as for instance tests in mental arithmetic; skill in reckoning is necessary to the white race, and it has cultivated this faculty; but it is not necessary to the negro.

On the other hand negroes far surpass white men in acuteness of vision, hearing, sense of direction and topography. A native who has once visited a particular locality will rarely fail to recognize it again. For the rest, the mental constitution of the negro is very similar to that of a child, normally good-natured and cheerful, but subject to sudden fits of emotion and passion during which he is capable of performing acts of singular atrocity, impressionable, vain, but often exhibiting in the capacity of servant a dog-like fidelity which has stood the supreme test. Given suitable training, the negro is capable of becoming a craftsman of considerable skill, particularly in metal work, carpentry and carving. The bronze castings by the cire perdue process, and the cups and horns of ivory elaborately carved, which were produced by the natives of Guinea after their intercourse with the Portuguese of the i6th century, bear ample witness to this. But the rapid decline and practical evanescence of both industries, when that intercourse was interrupted, shows that the native craftsman was raised for the moment above his normal level by direct foreign inspiration, and was unable to sustain the high quality of his work when that inspiration failed.

In speaking of the form or forms of culture found among negro and negroid tribes, the dependence of the native upon his environment must be kept in mind, particularly in Africa, where interchange of customs is continually taking place among neighbors.

Thus the forest regions are distinguished by a particular form of culture which differs from that prevailing in the more open country (see AFRICA: Ethnology). But it may be said generally that the negro is first and foremost an agriculturist.

The negritos are on a lower cultural plane; they are nomadic hunters who do no cultivation whatever. Next in importance to agriculture come hunting and fishing and, locally, cattle-keeping. The last is not strictly typical of negro culture at all; nearly all the tribes by whom it is practised are of mixed origin, and their devotion to cattle seems to vary inversely with the purity of race. The most striking exception to this statement is the Dinka of the upper Nile, the whole of whose existence centres round the cattle pen. Of the other tribes where pastoral habits obtain to a greater or less extent, the Masai have a large percentage of Hamitic blood, the eastern and southern Bantu-speaking negroids are also of mixed descent, &c.

The social conditions are usually primitive, especially among the negroes proper, being based on the village community ruled by a chief. Where the country is open, or where the forest is not so thick as to present any great obstacle to communication, it has often happened that a chief has extended his rule over several villages and has ultimately built up a kingdom administered by sub-chiefs of various grades, and has ven established a court with a regular hierarchy of officials. Benin and Dahomey are instances of this. But the region where this "empire-building" has reached its greatest proportions lies to the south of the forest belt in the territory of the Bantu negroids, where arose the states of Lunda, Cazembe, &c.

The domestic life of the negro is based upon polygyny, and marriage is almost always by purchase. So vital is polygyny to the native social system that the attempts made by missionaries to abolish plurality of wives would, if successful (a contingency unthinkable under present conditions), result in the most serious social disorder. Not only would an enormous section of the population be deprived of all means of support, but the native wife would be infinitely harder worked; agriculture, the task of the women, would be at a standstill; and infanticide would probably assume dangerous proportions.

Descent in the negro world is on the whole more often reckoned through the female, though many tribes with a patriarchal system are found. Traces of totemism are found sporadically but are rare.

Of the highest importance socially are the secret societies, which are found in their highest development among the negroes of the west coast, and in a far less significant form among'Some of the Bantu negroids of the western forest district. In their lighest form these societies transcend the tribal divisions, and the tie which binds the individual to the society takes precedence of all others. But the secret society cannot be called a definitely negro institution, since it is found in the west only.

As an agriculturist the negro is principally a vegetarian, but this form of diet is not the result of direct choice; meat is everywhere regarded as a great delicacy, and no opportunity of obtaining it is ever neglected, with one exception-that the cattle-keeping tribes rarely slaughter for food, because cattle are a form of currency. Fish is also an important article of diet in the neighborhood of large rivers, especially the Nile and Congo. It is worthy of note that the two cultivated plants which form the mainstay of native life, manioc in the west and centre and mealies in the south and east, are neither of African origin.

Cannibalism is found in its simplest form in Africa. In that continent the majority of cannibal tribes eat human flesh because they like it, and not from any magical motive or from lack of other animal food. In fact it is noticeable that the tribes most addicted to this practice inhabit just those districts where game is most plentiful. Among the true negroes it is confined mainly to the Welle and Ubangi districts, though found sporadically (and due to magical motives) on the west coast, and among the Bantu negroids in the south-western part of Belgian Congo and-the Gabun.

With regard to crafts the most important and typical is that of iron smelting and working. No negro tribe has been found of which the culture is typical of the Stone age; or, indeed, which makes any use of stone implements except to crush ore and hammer metal. Even these are rough pieces of stone of convenient size, not shaped in any way by chipping or grinding. Doubtless the richness of the African soil in metal ores rendered the Stone age in Africa a period of very short duration (see AFRICA: Ethnology). A good deal of aptitude is shown in the forging of iron, considering the primitive nature of the tools. Considerable skill in carving is also found in the west and among the Bantu negroids, especially of Belgian Congo south of the Congo. Weaving is practised to a large extent in the west; the true native material being palm-leaf fibre. The cultivation of cotton, which has become important in West Africa, deals with an exotic material and has been subjected to foreign influences. Among the. Bantu of the Kasai district the art of weaving palm-cloth reaches its highest level, and in the east cotton-weaving is again found. Pottery-making is almost universal, though nowhere has it reached a very advanced stage; the wheel is unknown, though an appliance used on the lower Congo displays the principle in very rudimentary form. The production of fire by means of friction was universal, the method known as "twirling" being in vogue, i.e. the rapid rotation between the palms of a piece of hard wood upon a piece of soft wood. Trading is practised either by direct barter or through the medium of rude forms of currency which vary according to locality. Value is reckoned among the tribes with pastoral tendencies in cattle and goats; among the eastern negroes by hoe-and spear-blades and salt blocks; in the west by cowries, brass rods, and bronze armlets (manilas); in Belgian Congo variously by olivella shells, brass rods, salt, goats and fowls, copper ingots and iron spear-blades, &c.

As regards religion, the question of environment is again important; in the western forests where communities are small the negro is a fetishist, though his fetishism is often combined more or less with nature worship. Where communication is easier the nature worship becomes more systematic, and definite supernatural agencies are recognized, presiding over definite spheres of human life.1 Where feudal kingdoms have been formed, ancestor-worship begins to appear and often assumes paramount
1 The three volumes by Colonel Ellis mentioned in the bibliography form an excellent study of the development of negro religion.

importance. In fact this form of religion is typical of all the eastern and southern portion of the continent (see AFRICA: Ethnology). With the negro, as with most primitive peoples, it is the malignant powers which receive attention from man, with a view to propitiation or coercion. Beneficent agencies require no attention, since, from their very nature, they must continue to do good. The negro attitude towards the supernatural is based frankly on fear; gratitude plays no part in it. A characteristic feature of the western culture area, among both negro and Bantu negroid tribes, is the belief that any form of death except by violence must be due to evil magic exercised by, or through the agency of, some human individual; to discover the guilty party the poison ordeal is freely used. A similar form of ordeal is found in British Central Africa, to discover magicians, and the wholesale "smelling-out" of "witches," often practised for political reasons, is a well-known feature of the culture of the Zulu-Xosa tribes. Everywhere magic, both sympathetic and imitative, is practised, both by the ordinary individual and by professional magicians, and most medical treatment is based on this, although the magician is usually a herbalist of some skill. Where the rainfall is uncertain, the production of rain by magical means is one of the chief duties of the magician, a duty which becomes paramount in the eastern plains among negroes and Bantu negroids alike. But the negroes and negroids have been considerably influenced by exotic religions, chiefly by Mahommedanism along the whole extent of country bordering the Sahara and in the east. Christianity has made less progress, and the reason is not far to seek. Islam is simple, categorical and easily comprehended; it tends far less to upset the native social system, especially in the matter of polygyny, and at the same time discourages indulgence in strong drink. Moreover the number of native missionaries is considerable. Christianity has none of these advantages, but possesses two great drawbacks as far as the negro is concerned. It is not sufficiently categorical, but leaves too much to the individual, and it discountenances polygyny. The fact that it is divided into sects, more or less competitive among themselves, is another disadvantage which can hardly be overrated. This division has not, it is true, as yet had much influence upon the evangelization of Africa, since the various missions have mostly restricted themselves each to a particular sphere; still, it is a defect in Christianity, as compared with Islam, which will probably make itself felt in Africa as it has in China.

As regards language, the Bantu negroids all speak dialects of one tongue (see BANTU LANGUAGES). Among the negroes the most extraordinary linguistic confusion prevails, half a dozen neighboring villages in a small area often speaking each a separate language. All are of the agglutinating order. No absolutely indigenous form of script exists; though the Hausa tongue has been reduced to writing without European assistance.

AUTHORITIES.--T. Deniker, Races of Man (London, 1900); A. H. Keane, Ethnology (London, 1896); Man Past and Present (London, 1900); A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking Peoples (1887); The Ewe-speaking Peoples (1890); The Yoruba-speaking Peoples (1894); B. Ankermann, "Kulturkreise in Afrika," Zeit.f. Eth. (1905), p. 54. See also AFRICA, 3, Ethnology.

(T. A. J.)


Unknown said...

The individuals who put this information together need to have thorougly checked their facts prior to publication. This information is obviously laced with racial bias and is driven by malice and ignorance. I am shocked that this information [which has been proven false] is still available for people [who might or might not know better] to read. Its outrage!

Unknown said...

The individuals who put this information together need to have thorougly checked their facts prior to publication. This information is obviously laced with racial bias and is driven by malice and ignorance. I am shocked that this information [which has been proven false] is still available for people [who might or might not know better] to read. Its outrage!