Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/102

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tunities}} for leading the young into correct methods of study, and every leisure moment out of the classroom for perfecting himself in those original investigations that were his life work. Mason's interest in anthropology began in his boyhood days, and his inspiration may be traced directly to the enthusiasm with which he read a copy of Guyot's "Earth and Man" that accidentally came into his hands. Following Guyot, the writings of Maury, Guizot, Lane Fox, Klemm, Lubbock, Tylor and Evans were devoured, and his text for life became "thoughts in things, or human history written in human inventions." Ever a devout churchman and a leader in Sunday school work, he equipped himself with a knowledge of Biblical archeology, which subject he pursued assiduously whenever opportunity afforded. His deep and growing interest in this and kindred studies attracted, in 1873, the attention of Professor Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, through whose influence Mason's studies became diverted to the American field at a time when but few students were aware of the fruitfulness and the possibilities of the western continent for ethnological and archeological research. In the same year he was made a collaborator of the Smithsonian Institution, and commenced to compile the synonymy of the North American tribes—the inception of what has developed into the "Handbook of American Indians," now in process of publication by the Bureau of American Ethnology. He also prepared schemes for anthropological exhibits at the Centennial Exposition in 1876, and became the editor of the anthropological summaries that appeared in "Harper's Annual Record of Science and Industry" (1874-8), in the American Naturalist (1876-87), and in the Smithsonian Reports (1875-93). Professor Mason was appointed curator of anthropology in the United States National Museum in 1884, and head curator of its department of anthropology in 1902.

Otis Tufton Mason was the most charming of men. Kind, generous, considerate, patient beyond measure, with a fount of humor that bubbled forth on every occasion, one would never suspect from outward appearance that the best years of his life had been blighted by mental anguish. Paralyzed after having passed his sixtieth year, he began life anew, as years before he had begun again, after years of application, when Henry advised him to drop the eastern Mediterranean field and adopt America as the subject of his labors. His right hand being practically dead, in a few weeks he learned to write as well with the left, and planned further work with bravery worthy of a young man in prime physical condition.

Being essentially a worker among collections. Mason's activities were devoted chiefly to the material culture of primitive peoples. This is exemplified by his writings on the "Latimer Collection of Antiquities from Porto Rico" (1876); "Basket-work of the North American Indians" (1884); "Throwing-sticks in the National Museum" (1884); "Cradles of the American Aborigines" (1887); "North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers" (1893); "Origins of Inventions" (1895); "Aboriginal American Zootechny" (1889); "Aboriginal American Basketry" (1902), and many others. He insisted that the most rigid methods of the naturalist should be applied to the investigation of human problems, and that every human act and invention be subjected to this close scrutiny. His long experience in the training of youth made him ever a willing guide and instructor of those in search of the knowledge that he possessed, and many a young student received his first impetus in the study of ethnology through Mason's friendly aid. His scientific papers, numbering many score, are written largely in popular vein, as if designed for the benefit of youth rather than for his fellow