The Fallaize Collection.

late 19th - early 20th century
  • Pictures

Collection contents

About this work


The Fallaize collection, named after anthropologist Edwin Nichol Fallaize (1877–1957), comprises over 1,300 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 photographs, which have been taken in natural and domestic settings as well as in photographic studios. The studio portraits include actresses such as Viola Hamilton and Marguerite Agniel, bullfighters, gymnasts, figures in national or traditional dress and sportspeople. Thematically, the collection is wide ranging, including 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 arrived with the original envelopes which Falliaze had recieved or kept them in. The collection remained 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, revealing that some of the photographs were still uncatalogued. In 2022 this material was catalogued, the existing catalogue records updated, 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. 


late 19th - early 20th century

Biographical note

Edwin Nicol (Nicholas) Collingford Fallaize was born 17 October 1877 in Jersey (Channel Islands) as the only son of N.C. Fallaize, who lived in Oxford. He attended Victoria College in St. Helier, Jersey and then enrolled at Exeter College, Oxford on 23 October 1896. There he studied the classics - Holy Scripture, Greek and Latin. In 1900 he took his final examination in 'Literae Humaniores', for which he received 2nd class honours and graduated as Bachelor of Arts on 20 June 1901.
Fallaize was a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute and in 1920 became its Honorary Secretary, he was Assistant Secretary between 1901 and 1903, and resigned his post in October 1930. He was a recorder of the Anthropological Section of the British Association between 1902 and 1928 and served as a recorder in France in 1917.
Additionally, Fallaize was appointed Secretary to the British Foreign School Society in the March of 1920.
On 24th May 1927, at the invitation of Henry S. Wellcome, a meeting and reception of the Royal Anthropological Institute was held at the Museum. Whilst Wellcome did not attend (he was in America) Fallaize and the RAI were received by Captain Malcolm and inspected the collections. Fallaize wrote about the visit in the journal Man (June 1927).
Fallaize died in 1957 at the age of 78.

Related material

Correspondence between Fallaize and L.W.G. Malcolm (former Director of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum) relating to the acquisition of the collection is held by Wellcome Collection, reference WA/HMM/CO/Chr/J.34


Wellcome Collection 3303244i

Exhibitions note

Some of the photographs were exhibited in "The Proper study of mankind? Untrodden fields of anthropology" held in the Reading Room, Wellcome Collection, London, 11 March - 4 May 2002.
Several photographs were exhibited in "Exposed: The Victorian Nude" held at Tate Britain, London, 1 November 2001 – 13 January 2002.

Ownership note

Originally collected by British anthropologist Edwin Nichol Fallaize (1877-1957). Purchased by Capt. L.W.G. Malcolm in 1934, on behalf of Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome, for the price of £25.


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