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Poona Plague Pictures, 1897-1908, undated

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Poona Plague Pictures

Scope and Content of Collection

The album was most likely compiled by Dr. Charles Henry Benjamin Adams (later Adams-Wylie), who served as the plague medical officer at the General Plague Hospital in Poona (Pune), India, from some time in 1897 until his departure on January 15, 1898, as jubilantly noted in the caption for a general view of the hospital.

The album records the work of the General Plague Hospital in great detail. The photographs document the daily work of the hospital and include portraits of hospital staff, views of the hospital wards and grounds, and detailed close-up studies of plague patients. Photographs taken outside the hospital compound document the measures instituted by Pune's Special Plague Committee and enforced by the British and native soldiers, such as the white-washing of homes; views of the segregation camps where residents were sent while their districts were disinfected; and views of the observation camps that held households with family members known to have the plague; as well images of burial grounds and Hindu funeral pyres.

Also included in the album are plague-related photographs taken in Bombay, including a view of the Jamisetji Hospital, and other photographs taken in Sukkur and Reti that appear to be of a more personal nature. Adams-Wylie appears in the General Plague Hospital staff group portraits in the album's opening pages as well as in the snapshot captioned "The Chummery."

Several of the 148 photographs (including the two-part group portrait panorama) in the album are by or can be attributed to Pune-based British photographer F. B. Stewart, including a number that were reproduced in the illustrated weekly news journals The Sketch and The Graphic. Other photographs of a more amateur nature were likely taken by Adams-Wylie or his close associates.

Titles for the photographs are taken from the handwritten captions, unless otherwise noted. Consequently, some titles may include language now considered to be racist or biased. All photographs are gelatin silver prints except for a handful noted as being albumen prints.

Inserted loose in the album are four additional items, at least three of which can be tied to C. H. B. Adams-Wylie and his wife Lilian. These include a letter from Lilian's uncle, Alexander Sclanders, primarily concerned with the setting of her wedding date to Dr. Adams and asking the couple to reconsider going to plague-ridden India when, as he suggests, Adams could easily set up a practice in a desirable location in England. He asks that both Lily and Adams discuss their plans with him. Also present are a small snapshot of two young couples in fancy-dress marked "Adams" on the verso and a group portrait of the staff of Adams-Wylie Hospital taken in 1908. A photograph of an Indian temple complex is the fourth item found loose in the album.

The album is half-bound in green and black morocco leather with "Photographs" embossed in gilt on the front cover. The front flyleaf bears the title Poona Plague Pictures written in a devised font composed of bones and skulls.


Arranged in a singles series:
Series I: Poona plague pictures, 1897-1908, undated.

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