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Papers of Cuthbert Christy

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 124

Scope and Contents

Diaries, notes, letters, reports, publications and maps written or collected by Christy during his medical and zoological work in Scotland, Africa and India.


  • Creation: 1889 - 1930


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

Cuthbert Christy was born in 1863 and qualified in medicine at the University of Edinburgh. In the early 1890s he travelled to South America and the West Indies. From 1898 to 1900 Christy was senior medical officer to the Second Battalion, West African Field Force in northern Nigeria, after which he served for a brief time in India. Christy was a member of the first Royal Society Africa Sleeping Sickness Commission in 1902, and then worked upon two other expeditions researching the disease organised by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Sudanese Government. From 1903 to 1910, he travelled widely in Ceylon, East Africa, Uganda, southern Nigeria, the Gold Coast and the Cameroons. Between 1911 and 1914, Christy worked for the Belgian government, investigating sleeping sickness and rubber cultivation in the Congo, and collecting zoological specimens for the Museum of the Belgian Congo.

During 1915-1916, Christy mapped the Nile-Congo boundary for the Sudanese Government, and then served in East Africa and Mesopotamia as an army medical officer. Between 1920 and 1923 he explored the Bahr-el-Ghazal River. From 1925 to 1928, Christy led a zoological expedition to Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa, collecting specimens on behalf of the British Museum. In 1930, he chaired the Commission set up by the League of Nations to enquire into slavery and forced labour in Liberia. Christy died on 29 May 1932, after being gored by a buffalo while on a zoological investigation in the Belgian Congo.


.05 cubic metre(s) (5 archive boxes and 1 tube) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference


Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 77-79.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by the Royal African Society in 1972.

Existence and Location of Copies

Available on microfilm: Reels 1-4.

Related Materials

The collection also included 419 photographs of Africa, now separately catalogued and kept at Y304A.

Views relating to Christy's time in India are at Y3022V.


The material is listed in part in: J.D. Pearson, ed., ‘A guide to manuscripts and documents in the British Isles relating to Africa/compiled by Noel Matthews and M. Doreen Wainwright’ (London, 1971), p. 117.

The material has been microfilmed, and is listed in: 'Africa through western eyes, parts 1 & 2: original manuscripts from the Royal Commonwealth Society Library at Cambridge University Library - a listing and guide to the microfilm collection' (2000), Adam Matthew Publications Ltd.

Dr. Christy wrote a number of articles, and two books: Cuthbert Christy, ‘The African rubber industry and Funtumia elastica (kickxia)' (London, 1911); Cuthbert Christy, ‘Big game and Pygmies: experiences of a naturalist in Central African forests in quest of the Okapi’ (London, 1924). The latter is primarily based on his Congo experiences but includes material on natural history from other African travels.

J.P. Taylor, ‘Dr Christy and Liberia’, Royal Commonwealth Society, Library Notes, New Series No. 187, January 1973, p.1-4.


This collection level description was created by MJC.


Christy, Cuthbert, 1863-1932, explorer and zoologist

Includes index.
2007-02-08 14:36:10+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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