Dean C. Worcester papers, 1887-1925
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Worcester, Dean C. (Dean Conant), 1866-1924
- University of Michigan professor of zoology and museum curator, participated in or and led several research expeditions to the Philippines, member of the First and Second Philippine Commissions and involved in several Philippines business ventures; records includes notes, correspondence, publications and photographs relating to research expeditions, service on Philippines Commissions business activities, of special interest are notes of a trip taken to Mindoro and Palawan in July of 1910 and papers pertaining to the special Wood-Forbes Investigating Mission to the Philippines in 1921.
4.4 linear feet
1 oversize folder
- Call Number:
- 86354 Aa/2, Ac
- Finding aid prepared by: Bentley Historical Library staff
- Scope and Content:
The Dean C. Worcester papers filed at the Bentley Historical Library consist of correspondence, subject files, newspaper clippings, publications, and photographs pertaining to his activities in the Philippines. Of interest are notes of a trip taken to Mindoro and Palawan in July of 1910 and papers pertaining to the special Wood-Forbes Investigating Mission to the Philippines in 1921. The collection includes correspondence with William Howard Taft and Leonard Wood.
- Biographical / Historical:
Worcester Chronology Date Event 1866 Born, Thetford, Vermont 1887-1888 Visited the Philippines with Joseph Beal Steere expedition sponsored by the University of Michigan 1889 Graduated from the University of Michigan 1890-1893 Visited the Philippines as leader of the Menage expedition sponsored by the Minnesota Academy of Natural Science 1893 Appointed instructor at the University of Michigan 1895 Promoted to assistant professor of zoology and appointed curator of the University Museum, University of Michigan 1898 Published The Philippine Islands and their People 1899 Appointed to the First Philippine Commission, visited the Philippines with the commission, and supervised compilation of commission's final report 1900 Appointed to the Second Philippine Commission and returned to the Philippines 1901 Appointed Secretary of the Interior in the Philippine Commission's government of the Philippines 1913 Resigned position with the Philippine Commission and became vice-president of the Philippine-American Company 1914 Published The Philippines Past and Present 1913-1924 Worked at various business enterprises in the Philippines 1924 Died in Manila
Dean Conant Worcester was born in Thetford, Vermont, the youngest son of an impoverished family of nine children. In 1884, his older brother and sister paid his expenses to the University of Michigan where he majored in zoology and came under the influence of Joseph B. Steere, chair of the Department of Zoology. In 1887, still an undergraduate, Worcester joined Steer's expedition to the Philippines, financing the costs by insuring his life and borrowing on the policy.
The Steere expedition was recognized as a scientific success. With academic credit for his participation in the expedition and a semester's work in zoology, Worcester obtained his A.B. degree in 1889. He and Frank Bourns, also of the Steere expedition, planned a longer sojourn in the Philippines and found financing through the University of Minnesota and a wealthy Minneapolis businessman Louis F. Menage. The Menage Expedition, 1890-1893, resulted in the collection of over three thousand specimens of birds, bats, butterflies, reptiles, mammals, corals, shells and in ethnological material. Upon his return, Worcester married Nanon Fay Leas and in the autumn of 1893 became an instructor in animal morphology at the University of Michigan. He began publishing monographs on Philippine birds, with Bourns and alone, and in 1895 he was promoted to assistant professor of zoology and appointed curator of the Zoological Museum.
In 1897 Worcester delivered his first general public lecture on the Philippines to the Unity Club of Ann Arbor and in that same year published his first general article on the Philippines, "Spanish Rule in the Philippines," co-authored with Bourns. With Dewey's victory over the Spanish in Manila Bay (May 1, 1898), Worcester began to think of the Philippines as an American colony. During a six week period, July 10 to September 1, 1898, Worcester wrote a book The Philippine Islands and Their People, based on the letters he had written home during his scientific expeditions. A few months later, and as the President McKinley government moved to extend American military control over the Philippine archipelago, Worcester received a letter from his expedition colleague Frank Bourns, in which Bourns expresed concerns over the dangers due to the Philippine-American War. Worcester sought a meeting with President McKinley at which time he presented Bourns' views and augmented them with his own. McKinley asked Worcester to join a "civilian commission composed of men skilled in diplomacy and statesmanship" as requested by Admiral Dewey who was alarmed at the rejection by the newly declared Filipino government of the U.S.-proclaimed Benevolent Assimilation. The Benevolent Assimilation called upon the U.S. "to protect the natives in their homes, in their employments, and in their personal and religious rights…." In reality, the this proclamation set the stage for the prolonged imperial presence of the U.S. in the Philippines, which was often accompanied by violence and cultural erasure.
Through his participation in both the First and Second Philippine Commissions and in his position of Secretary of the Interior in the Commission government from 1901 to 1913, Worcester continued to influence the formulation and implementation of American policy in the Philippines. His tenure on the First and Second Philippine Commissions would be the longest of all the commissioners. Worcester's rejection of independence for the Philippines, first voiced in an 1899 interview with Dr. Apacible, a Philippine revolutionary with whom Worcester met in Hong Kong on his voyage to the Philippines, would never waver.
In 1913 Worcester resigned his position with the Philippine Commission to become vice-president of the Philippine-American Company. The following year he published The Philippines Past and Present and continued to direct various business enterprises until his death. Worcester's influence on American colonial policy and the various and controversial roles he played in the Philippines from his first visit in 1887 to his death in Manila in 1924 -- scientist, government official, propagandist and entrepreneur-- earned him both recognition and deep resentment.
- Acquisition Information:
- The collection was donated in 1957 by Alice Worcester Day (Mrs. Kenneth B. Day). Mrs. Day was Dean C. Worcester's daughter. Donor no. 3253
The Worcester collection covers the period of 1900 to 1924 and has been arranged into six series: Correspondence; Papers; Articles, lectures, etc.; Newspaper clippings; Miscellaneous; and Photographs.
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Related Collections in other repositories
Dean C. Worcester papers and photographs are located in a number of other repositories. From information gathered by the Michigan Historical Collections and by the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, the following have been identified:
Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Michigan Libraries: 1700 items, including 24 volumes of correspondence and reports and 21 volumes of clippings. This collection is described in Balita mula Maynila, by Thomas E. Powers.
Thetford Historical Society, Thetford, Vermont: 10 linear feet.
Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan: 4,775 negatives.
Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois: Between 5,000 and 10,000 negatives. These Worcester holdings are combined with several other collections of Philippine photographs.
Original prints of Worcester negatives are found in all the above collections, as well as in the Anthropological Archives of the U.S. National Museum, American Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum of Harvard University, and Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne, Germany.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Voyages and travels.
Americans -- Philippines.
Soldiers -- United States.
Spaniards -- Philippines.
University of Michigan -- Faculty.
Worcester, Dean C. (Dean Conant), 1866-1924.
Denby, Edwin, 1870-1929.
Dewey, George, 1837-1917.
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930.
Wood, Leonard, 1860-1927.
Philippines -- History -- 1898-1946.
Philippines -- History -- 1898-1946.
Philippines -- History -- Revolution, 1896-1898.
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Anne Day Harrell, daughter of Alice W. Day, has transferred any applicable copyright in her grandfather's papers to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
item, folder title, box no., Dean C. Worcester Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan