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Photographs of Burma [Myanmar]

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3029M

Scope and Contents

This collection is mostly of albumen prints of photographs taken in Burma [Myanmar] in the later nineteenth century. Many are captioned and the captions have been used as titles and have been recorded as found. Titles supplied by the cataloguer are enclosed in square brackets. Many photographs have been identified as the work of Felix Beato. All of these photographs belonged to Rodway Swinhoe (1863-1927), who may have bought them after the closure of Beato's emporium in Mandalay c.1906. On none of the photographs is Beato noted as the photographer, but many appear in published works where he or his firm are given credit, including: Alice Marion Rowlands Hart, 'Picturesque Burma, Past and Present' (1897); Gwendolen Trench Gascoigne, 'Among pagodas and fair ladies, an account of a tour through Burma' (1896); George W. Bird, 'Wanderings in Burma' (1897).


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1852 - 1906

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

Rodway Charles John Swinhoe (1863-1927) was born in Cheltenham, England. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather had been lawyers in Calcutta [Kolkata], India. He became a barrister in Mandalay, Burma [Myanmar], in 1888 and lived there for the rest of his life, acquiring a large collection of photographs. He wrote 'The Incomplete Guide to Burma', which was published in the 1920s. Felix [Felice] Beato (1832-1909) arrved in what was then Burma in 1886, setting up a studio and curio business in Mandalay. His images of Burma were used in the compilation of albums in Europe and in several published books on Burma.


0.04 cubic metre(s) (3 albums, 1 archive box and 1 oversize archive box) : black and white photographs

Language of Materials



The circumstances of Swinhoe's purchase of the photographs is unrecorded. He may have been buying images to compile an album (at some point the photographs were sorted into broad subject areas) but there is also physical evidence on the prints that they mounted at some point, perhaps for a temporary display.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Alan Macfarlane in 2012.

This finding aid was entered by MJC, based upon a catalogue created by Sarah Harrison in 2012.
January 2021
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom