The Fallaize Collection.
- [late 19th and early 20th century]
About this work
The Fallaize collection, named after anthropologist Edwin Nichol Fallaize (1877–1957), comprises over 1,200 photographs and 4 publications he collected during the first part of the 20th Century.
Men, women and children (both naked and clothed) from around the world are depicted in the collection of photographs, which have been taken in both natural and domestic settings as well as in photographic studios. Many of the studio portraits include actresses such as Viola Hamilton and Marguerite Agniel, bullfighters, gymnasts, figures in national or traditional dress and sportspeople to name a few. Thematically, the collection is wide ranging, including, but not exclusive to, ideas of beauty, body culture, health, anthropology, ethnology and colourism.
Some photographs are initialled by Fallaize suggesting he photographed or at the very least commissioned part of the collection. It is not clear if the material was collected by Fallaize in a personal capacity, or in his roles at the Royal Anthropological Institute and British Foreign School Society with which he was associated, or perhaps a mixture of all three.
The photographs are organised into anthropological groups or classifications, i.e. by country and or nationality. Supporting this idea, Fallaize wrote in 1922: "As man exists both in time and space, it follows that the study of man and his activities must be pursued subject to two sets of conditions, conditions of time and space. These conditions, however, although logically separable, cannot in practice be made to stand apart. Comparison is of the essence of anthropological investigation, and the study of man in time is inextricably interwoven with the study of man in space, and vice versa; nor is it possible in looking at the material from the point of view of its utility to the educationist, to regard the study of man in time as peculiarly the province of the historian and the study of man in space as the province of the geographer…".
Many of the images can be viewed as legacies of colonialism and some of the groupings, language and context have been flagged for potential sensitivities and offensiveness. Some of these sensitivities are more obvious than others, including racial slurs. The language and groupings have been referenced in the records, so have not been erased but some of the individual items have been given amended title descriptions and content warnings. If a title/description has been changed you will see the original title description in the record alongside this.
In 1934, the photographs were deposited with the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in a tin trunk which remains in the collection today. Some photographs still with their original envelopes too. This was understood to be in storage until 1991, when curators from the Wellcome Library rediscovered the contents. Many of the photographs were catalogued in 2001. In 2019, the Fallaize collection was audited as part of a wider inventory project of all visual and material culture collections in Wellcome Collection, revealing that some of the photographs were still uncatalogued. In 2022, this outstanding material was catalogued, and existing catalogue records were improved, and the complete collection was sensitivity reviewed and rehoused to improve access. The rehousing also aimed to group the photographs as found, to retain what is believed to have been in the manner Fallaize organised his collection.