Zika Cataloguing Project: third sight



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Professor Alexander John Haddow donated his collection to the University of Glasgow just before he died in December 1978. The papers within his archive are not just confined to his mosquito catch records and professional work, they also capture his many and varied interests.

As part of this Wellcome Trust funded project we are adding recently accessioned papers and photographs from the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum to the catalogue. The Hunterian hold a number of artefacts, drawings and zoological specimens donated by Haddow, including his microscope and the skin of a Long Tailed (Hebridean) mouse.  While cataloguing this new accession I grew incredibly excited discovering a drawing by Haddow of a figure titled “East Nandi warrior” [ GB 248 DC 068/6/7/4/2]. As a practising artist I can appreciate the level of skill and patience required to produce such a technically excellent drawing. We also get an impression of Alec’s methodical personality, delivering his own critique of artwork when not precisely in proportion [GB 248 DC 068/6/7/5/15].

Haddow’s visual records allow us to build a picture of the actual environment where he was conducting his mosquito catches. The six pocket sized volumes of negatives and the selection of black and white prints, which cover the period of time he spent in Uganda (1942-1951), include images of vegetation, landscapes, and ‘Platform 82’ where some of the mosquito catches were made. This set of photographs also contains pictures of the local community whom Alec clearly found extremely interesting. They depict a variety of scenes from groups posing for his camera to seated men smoking large pipes. Frank Willett, the first Director of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery (1976-1990) and the ‘leading Africanist of his generation’, noted that Alec would talk to people whom he felt interested in, maybe offer them a cigarette, and then make some rough sketches.

We could speculate that Alec was not solely engaging with the community for his own creative interest, as the East African Research Institute where he worked, maintained a commitment to testing and distributing the yellow fever vaccine to a significant population on the African continent. It was noted in the Institute’s Annual Report 1960-1961 that the entomological work carried out during night hours was met with ‘nefarious interpretations’ by local people [GB 248 DC 068/4/3/1]. This was despite the institute regularly hosting tours and employing the local community. Many communities may not have been familiar with new scientific methods or reasons for the medicines; therefore building trusting relationships was undoubtedly critical.

What is without doubt is that this addition to the Haddow collection offers an insight not only into the man himself, but also into the communities with whom he worked while living in Uganda.

Categories: Archives and Special Collections

1 reply


  1. Zika Cataloguing Project: fourth dimension – University of Glasgow Library

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