Glass negatives, 1914 - 1918
Scope and Contents
The collection comprises black and white photographs, mostly 125 x 75 mm or 75 x 125 mm in size, film negatives and glass negatives. Some of the prints from glass plates are smaller, approximately 85 x 65 mm. The prints are good compositions, though some are rather dark, and were listed by Erica Ryan of the National Library of Australia, using, among other sources, the captioned envelopes in which the original negatives had been stored.
The provenance of the collection is unclear, but the photographs belonged to Major John Stuart Keir Wells, a Nyasaland planter who served with the King’s African Rifles in the campaign against German East Africa during the First World War. He may have taken many of the images himself. Wells took part in Brigadier Edward Northey's capture of Neue Langenberg (Tukuyu) in May 1916 and in July 1916 he was appointed its first Political Officer. He constructed the elaborate gardens at the Tukuyu district residence portrayed in the photographs. Wells retired from his post in 1922 to become one of the district’s first successful tea planters, and died in 1937. There is a portrait of Wells at Y30469K/14 and he appears in other images.
The photographs were taken between 1916 and 1918, documenting Well’s first few years in Tukuyu. A number depict the officers and men of the KAR at Tukuyu, Wells’s residence, dances, ritual events, and the people and landscape of the district. What happened to the negatives after Wells’s death is unclear. They probably fell into the hands of someone at Tukuyu in the late 1940s, who incorporated a small number of prints dated 1949 into the collection. The collection was then found at Morogoro by the colonial civil servant Arthur Sutton, who was posted there during the 1950s. Prints were made from the negatives in the 1980s. In retirement, Sutton gave the collection to a former colleague, Leslie Alfred Simmons Brown, whose widow donated them to the RCS in 1994. Unfortunately no original captions survive. It is not known who wrote the vaguely descriptive captions upon the negative envelopes, but they possessed no first-hand knowledge of the people or scenes. By this time the original ordering of the collection had been lost and the photographs are clearly out of sequence. Where possible these tentative captions have been corrected, but specialist knowledge is required to identify many of the subjects and scenes.
- 1914 - 1918
Conditions Governing Access
Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
42 item(s) (42 images) : glass negative
Language of Materials
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
many of the negatives are cracked.
DateText: The dates are approximate..
Finding aid date