Twentieth-Century Explorer: The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Spencer Dickey

By ELIZABETH FISHER

Romantic stories of early adventurers and the emerging social science of ethnographic fieldwork influenced the twentieth-century physician and explorer, Dr. Herbert Spencer Dickey.

Starting in 1900, until his death in 1948, Dickey traveled through the northern and western regions of South America, collecting curiosities from the native peoples of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. Many of these objects made their way into the ethnographic collections of public institutions across the country, including the Dayton Society of Natural History.

Of his many expeditions, Dickey is credited with discovering the source of the Orinoco River and famously returned from his honeymoon excursion, with his Ohio bride, Elizabeth Staley Parker, and a shrunken head.

Clockwise: Waistband, Axe, Nose Ring, Basket

Through wedlock, Dickey became acquainted with Southwest Ohio and involved with the Dayton Museum and its staff. In 1935, DSNH received a large collection from Dickey, including Anguashi’s tsantsa.

Elizabeth Fisher is the Collections Manager and Registrar at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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