Tag Archives: Hunterian

First international professor & pioneering geologist

Henry Darwin Rogers (UP1/17/1)

Henry Darwin Rogers (UP1/17/1)

Philadelphia-born Henry Darwin Rogers (1808-1868) was perhaps the first international (overseas) professor employed at the University of Glasgow.

He directed geological surveys of New Jersey in 1835 and Pennsylvania in 1836, becoming a freelance geologist and moved to Scotland in 1855.  He was appointed to the Chair of Natural History from 1857, a position he held until his death in 1866. Rogers was also responsible for the care of the Hunterian Museum. His brother, William Barton Rogers, with whom he had founded two high schools in the US,  was founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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Filed under Glasgow Firsts, North America

Niue, the Savage Island – or just a load of bananas?

Unlike the Friendly Islands of Tonga, Niue was, perhaps unjustly, named the Savage Island on first contact: Captain Cook and his crew deducing that the natives with whom they had first been in contact appeared to be painted in blood, but this turned out to be the stain from the hulahula ( a native red banana).

The earliest contact for the University of Glasgow was made through missionaries, the London Missionary Society (LMS) having set up there in 1846. Among the earliest of those LMS missionaries was George Turner, who we have already come across in Samoa. Among the artifacts he collected from his life in the South Seas from the 1840s, were several from Niue. Including a shell girdle:

Shell belt (GLAHM E.425/2)

Following Turner was George William Lawes also of LMS, who set sail initially for the Savage Island in 1860, before establishing a mission station at Papua Guinea.

Moving into the 20th century, Niue became a British protectorate for a short period when the Island also saw its last King and Queen before its annexation with New Zealand in 1901. Their portraits were published in Basil Thomson’s Savage Island: an account of a sojourn in Niue and Tonga, (London: John Murray, 1902), a copy of which is held by the University Library (Research Annexe T14-g.13):

Photograph of the King of Niue, p. 38

Photograph of the Queen of Niue, p.46

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Filed under Commonwealth of Nations, Oceania

Early 19th-Century Fashion from Kiribati

The Baton Relay arrives in the Pacific Ocean island of Kiribati today (02.12.2013), which lies just two metres above sea level. Formerly part of the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati was just one of islands from where George Turner gathered his collection of over 100 items, which he later donated to the University.

The International Heritage project has documented the following items of clothing, or in some cases armour, which are thought to have been made in Kiribati:

The first is a pair of (comfortable) plaited coir or coconut-fibre trousers:


This can be teamed with a plaited coir or coconut-fibre cuirass:


And the outfit is set off by this woven fibre belt or girdle with attached nut shells:


We will be looking forward to seeing the Kiribatian costume of the 21st century which will be on display when the Baton arrives!

All items are held by the University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery and documented on the University’s International Story.

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Filed under Commonwealth of Nations, Oceania