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Portraits of Fellows of the Royal Colonial Institute

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCI

Scope and Contents

The collection provides the basis for a fascinating inquiry into the social history of the institute during its early years. Its officers and membership included royal patrons, British and colonial politicians, explorers, settlers, colonial administrators, merchants, industrialists, soldiers, sailors, medics, missionaries, scientists, historians, and creative writers. Images of the institute’s first full women fellows begin to appear from 1922. The photographs document the growth of the society within Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and other colonies, and the contribution of non-European fellows from India, Ceylon [Sri Lanka], Africa and the Caribbean.

In 1971 a brief listing of the portraits was made. In addition to the member’s name, it sometimes records other information, such as dates of birth and death, place of residence, and career details, but even the most complete entry falls short of a full biography. This information may be consulted in an alphabetical card file in the Manuscripts Reading Room. It has only been possible to transcribe the names of members in this on-line catalogue.


  • Creation: 1881 - 1928

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 Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

In 1881, the Royal Colonial Institute began to collect photographs of its fellows. It accepted an offer from Albert Eugene Fradelle of the National Photo-Mezzo-Tint Gallery, 246 Regent Street, to photograph members at his own expense and provide proofs for insertion into its albums. The number of albums expanded with the society’s membership, and by about 1905 thirteen albums had been filled. Thereafter, photographs were stored in two large wooden boxes. Fradelle died in 1884 and was succeeded by Walery Limited, ‘Photographer to the Queen’. Maull and Fox and then J. Russell and Sons provided the remainder of the images. Eventually approximately 3,250 photographs were collected before the practice was discontinued during the 1920s. The majority of portraits are cabinet sized (102 x 137 mm).

Occasionally photographs were acquired from other sources, often from non-resident members, to improve completeness of coverage. These photographers included:

Barraud, Herbert Rose

Bartlett, -

Brown, Barnes and Bell

Boning and Small

Fradelle and Young

John Roarty and Son

Kyles and Moir

London Stereoscopic Company

Melhuish, Arthur James

P Vuccino and Company

Palmer, Fred T

Parks, J G

Perrin, Jules

Pietzner, Carl

Reston, Arthur

Solomon, S

Taylor, A Sylvester

Thomas, J W

Vandyk, Carl

W J Byrne and Co

Webster Brothers

Window and Grove


c. 3250 item(s) (c. 3250 images) : photograph

Language of Materials



For further information, please see Donald Simpson, 'Let this fellow be looked to', 'Royal Commonwealth Society library notes', no. 188 (Feb. 1973), 1-3.


This description was created by MJC and NE.

Date information

DateText: The dates are approximate..


Royal Colonial Institute

2013-07-11 16:32:59+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom