These papers document the multi-faceted career of Arthur deC. Sowerby, especially his work as a naturalist and expedition member. They include correspondence, including a large amount with Robert Sterling Clark; fiscal records; material relating to his genealogical research and "The Sowerby Saga;" manuscripts, newspaper articles, and research notes, written by Sowerby; photographs and lantern slides; the papers of his third wife, Alice Muriel Cowans Sowerby; paintings, sketches, and poetry; and a notebook, a diary, and an autobiographical memoir.
Arthur deC. Sowerby (1885-1954), naturalist, explorer, artist, and editor was born in Tai-yuan Fu, Shansi province, China, where his father served as a British 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 American millionaire 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. During the Chinese Revolution of 1911, Sowerby led a relief mission to evacuate foreign missionaries in Shensi 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 which resulted in a family history, "The Sowerby Saga."
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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