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Royal Commonwealth Society : Cuthbert Christy Album of India 1899-1901

Christy, Cuthbert, 1863-1932, explorer and zoologist

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Album containing photographs of various sizes together with three loose prints. From internal evidence it was compiled by Dr Cuthbert Christy, but was not with his papers and photographs received from the Royal African Society in 1972. The photographs in this collection are chiefly of two types, large albumen or collodio-chloride prints and small (?) collodio-chloride prints which are generally inferior in subject and quality. Some of the larger ones are clearly professional work; others have small reference numbers, and though it is possible that some are enlargements from Christy's own work, it is more likely that this is limited to the smaller prints.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The captions to the photographs and his diaries are informative on Christy's time in India and enable photographs to be dated, but not without some ambiguities. He was in Nigeria until March 1899, but during the year took up a post in India. The Haffkine Research Laboratory was opened on a new site at Parel in August 1899, and Christy spent two months in Surat inoculating with plague serum produced by the Russian-born bacteriologist Weldemar Haffkine (see 78-85). It was presumably in 1899 also that the photographs of Bombay (99-108) and Janjira (98) were taken. Christy was at Satara from January-June 1900 (72; Satara photographs are 62-75, though some may date from October-December). Wai (76-77) is near Satara. Mid 1900 was apparently spent in Srinagar (18; the Srinagar photographs 16(?)-25 and 39-50C may date from this year or 1901). He was back at Satara for September-November (62) but this group of photos is headed Ahmednugar, and it is possible that he was based here - it is about 100 miles from Satara. He was at Satara on 24 June 1901 when his diary began; he resigned from his official post from 26 June (he was on a contract, not a regular member of the I.M.S.) and was seeking other work. He went to Bombay early in July, leaving on the 10th on a journey which took him to Agra (2-3), Simla (4-8) 14-20 July, Lahore (55-61) 22-30 July. His journey from Lahore to Srinagar, which he reached on 2 August, is recorded in his diaries, a 20-page account of travel via Murree (10-11) over the Jhelum at Kohala (12) and into Kashmir (13-15, 35-38). There is no diary for his stay in Srinagar in the first half of August, but it resumes on 15 August and records his journey to Quetta, via the Bolan Pass (52-54). He was based in Quetta, investigating anopheles mosquitoes in the surrounding area, for a fortnight, but the end of his diary on 19 September finds him planning to sail from India on 4 October. There are no photographs from this period.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The photographs are listed with Christy's captions in full (and with some inconsistent spellings).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Cuthbert Christy was born in 1863 and qualified in medicine at the University of Edinburgh. In the early 1890s he travelled to South America and the West Indies. From 1898-1900 he was senior medical officer to the Second Battalion West African Field Force in northern Nigeria, after which he served for a brief time in India. His Indian experiences are summed up in Who's Who: 'Special Medical Officer for plague, Bombay; assistant to Haffkine Bombay Plague Laboratory, Parel; acting Civil Surgeon Ahmednuggar, 1900, Satara, 1901'. He was a member of the First Uganda Sleeping Sickness Commission in 1902 and a medical expedition to the Congo in 1903. He travelled in Ceylon, East Africa, Uganda, southern Nigeria, the Gold Coast and the Cameroons. After official posts in the Congo and the Sudan he served in the First World War in Africa and Mesopotamia. After the War he explored in the Sudan, Nyasaland and Tanganyika, and was a member of a League of Nations Commission enquiring into slavery and forced labour in Liberia. On 29 May 1932, when he was nearly 70, he died as a result of being gored by a buffalo while on a zoological investigation in the Congo.</p>

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