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About this collection

Arthur de Carle Sowerby (1885-1954), naturalist, explorer, artist, and editor was born in Tai-yuan Fu, Shansi province, China, where his father served as a Baptist missionary. After a brief stay at Bristol University, England, Sowerby returned to China and began collecting specimens for the Natural History Museum in Tai-yuan Fu. In 1906, he was appointed to the staff of the Anglo-Chinese College at Tientsin as lecturer and curator of the Natural History Museum. He was a member of an expedition to the Ordos Desert in southern Mongolia in 1907, where he collected mammals for the British Museum (Natural History).

 

 

In 1908 Sowerby joined Robert Sterling Clark on an expedition into Shansi and Kansu provinces of north China. This began a long association with Clark, who financed several collecting trips by Sowerby. Many of the specimens collected by the Clark-Sowerby expeditions were deposited in the United States National Museum. A complete documentation of their journey, Through Shen-kan: The Account of the Clark Expedition in North China, 1908-9, was published in 1912. During the Chinese Revolution of 1911, Sowerby led a relief mission to evacuate foreign missionaries in Shansi and Sianfu provinces. During World War I, Sowerby served in France as Technical Officer in the Chinese Labour Corps. After the war, he settled in Shanghai and established The China Journal of Science and Arts, which he edited until the outbreak of World War II in 1941. During the war, Sowerby was interned by the Japanese army in Shanghai. He came to the United States in 1949 and spent the remainder of his life in Washington, D.C., pursuing genealogical research that resulted in a family history, The Sowerby saga, being a brief account of the origin and genealogy of the Sowerby family...


The bulk of the Clark-Sowerby correspondence dates from 1923 through 1930, with letters through 1953, the year before the death of Sowerby. Most of the letters are from Sowerby, with some carbon copies of brief notes sent by Robert Sterling Clark. The letters concern the often dire state of his finances as well as updates on his scientific pursuits and analyses of the tumultuous political and economic situation in China.

 

 

 

 
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