Carl V. Hartman and the Costa Rica Collections

Letters: February 20, 1903

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127 West, 83 rd St.
New York
Febr. 20 th 1903.

Doctor W. J. Holland.

Dear Sir.

In reply to your valued letter of the 10 th of Febr. I was only able the other day to write you a few lines. Allow me now to answer your questions, to give you a short sketch of my early training and some information about my knowledge of museum work.

I was born in Örebro in Sweden [in] 1862. My father Doctor Carl Hartman was a professor of natural history, author of the "Flora of Sweden and Norway." Having finished my seven years course at the college I first spent two years as a bookkeeper and student at an agricultural school. I then entered into the service of the Academy of Agriculture and devoted myself to various branches of applied botany. Having obtained a stipend of the Academy of Science for the pursuit of studies at some of the foremost botanic gardens of Western Europe, I spent six years in Copenhagen, London, Paris, Erfurt, Berlin, Amsterdam, etc.

When Dr. Carl Lumholtz (who is a Norwegian) organized his expedition for the exploration of Sierra Madre he engaged my services as a botanist. Soon however I became greatly interested in the archaeological and ethnological features and as Dr. Lumholtz needed a special assistant, I turned my attentions wholly to this line of investigation. After the conclusion of Dr. Lumholtz' first expedition I went with him to the Columbian Exhibition at Chicago, where I remained six months in the Anthropological Department, arranging exhibitions and assisting in the purchase and packing of ethnological collections.

Returning to Sweden I received a favorable offer to carry out explorations of my own in Central-America under the auspices of the Anthrop. Geogr. Society. This position I accepted and carried on explorations, which extended over a period of three years. On my way back I spent six months in the principal museums of the United States studying the archaeological collections.

In Stockholm I undertook new training in the various duties of a museum worker under the immediate supervision of Professor Hjalmar Stolpe. I classified, arranged and labelled anew my collections and wrote descriptive catalogues. At the same time I had the opportunity day after day of following in detail the work Dr. Stolpe was doing in the different departments, at that time especially valuable and instructive, on account of the complete reorganization of the institution then going on, according to thorough scientific and systematic plan.

Although the experience thus gained during these three years of daily intercourse with Professor Stolpe does not seem to cover a very long time I consider the same really valuable, because my instructor is undoubtedly one of the foremost museum men of Europe, having worked some 30 years inside the walls of the National Museum in Stockholm in association with Prof. Montelius and Hildebrand and having studied nearly all the museums of Europe, North & South America and Asia. Although the great life work of Stolpe has been principally in the domain of Scandinavian archaeological research, he is known in Europe as an authority on general ethnology also. During a tour around the world with one of the Swedish Princes he made extensive collections, especially in Japan, China, India and South-America. His principal study however has been that of the peoples of the Pacific Islands, particularly their ornamental art.

[Not reproduced here are three paragraphs in which Hartman includes quotations about Stolpe's eminent status in the museum field. They include comments about Stolpe's work by Prof. Brinton (from Science), Prof. A. B. Meyer (in German from Globus), and Prof. Alfred Haddon (in Evolution of Art). They were included to bolster Hartman's arguments about his training under Stolpe.]

These quotations I have given only for the reason, that you may understand, that although as said my training inside the museum walls has been somewhat short, I have however had the opportunity of getting the best instruction possible. Even during the three months, which I passed last fall in the museums of the United States in the company of Dr. Stolpe, I learned a good deal. I am also assured of the most hearty cooperation by my former superior in anything I undertake. He will always be glad to give me advice and information.

As I have only today been offered definitely still another position from the [American ?] Museum of Natural History to go into the field and I am desireous [sic] of coming to a decision, I must beg of you a speedy reply, if I am to consider a position in the Carnegie Museum, with a definite offer on your part as to time, salary, opportunities etc.

Hoping that you will favor me in this I remain

very sincerely yours

C. V. Hartman

[Letter, February 20, 1903, C. V. Hartman to W. J. Holland, Holland Archives, Box 8, file 53]