Monday, 1 March 2010

Collection of the Month: Carpenter Diary

The collection we have chosen to focus on this month is one single item but is a unique example of life in the Colonial Medical Service in Africa during the inter-war period.

This travel diary gives a day-by-day account of life in the tropics and serves as a rare and fascinating insight into the social aspects of living and working abroad in the late Colonial era. The diary was kept from 1913 to 1930 by Geoffrey Carpenter and his fiancée Amy Frances. There are photographs, pressed flowers, postcards, concert programmes and even their wedding invitation. Geoffrey Carpenter was appointed by the Royal Society to the Sleeping Sickness Commission and carried out much work in Uganda. A few years previously he had passed the certificate at the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1910 under Patrick Manson. His specialist as an entomologist included the phenomena of mimicry, polymorphism and matters of evolutionary interest.

One of the more memorable entries features the Carpenters’ description of HRH Prince Edward of Wales’ dancing at a dinner they attended as ‘weird and wonderful’. The diary is available to researchers in the archives by appointment.

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