Barbering, tooth-drawing and cupping being practised. Copyright Wellcome Collection.
Barbering, tooth-drawing and cupping being practised. Copyright Wellcome Collection.

Wellcome Collection

Barbering, tooth-drawing and cupping being practised. Copyright Wellcome Collection.
Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library based in London that encourages people to explore health and the human condition through exhibitions and research. The Sudan items in the Wellcome Collection trace the history of the collection’s founder, Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), in Sudan, and has been added to regularly since his death. These items concern medical research and archaeology as well as observations of the socio-cultural situation. They exist in various media such a photographs, objects, film and campaign propaganda.

The Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, founded in 1936 in accordance with Henry Wellcome’s will to improve health by supporting scientific research and the study of medicine. Funding for this mission came from the profits of his pharmaceutical business. After Henry Wellcome's death, much of his collection was dispersed to other museums and collectors, though the Wellcome Trust still had thousands of objects in their care. Further items were acquired since 1936. These items now form the basis of the Wellcome Collection, opened to the public in 2007.

Part of Henry Wellcome’s collection was established through his fascinating association with Sudan. After the battle of Omdurman, Wellcome visited Sudan in 1900-1901, where he offered to support the establishment of the research laboratories. These later came to be known as the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories in Khartoum. He then became directly involved in the planning and running of extensive archaeological excavations at Jebel Moya. More than 4000 labourers were employed in Jebel Moya, in addition to archaeologists and anatomists who were recruited to supervise the work. Workers were paid through a newly devised Savings Bank System, whereby part of the earnings of each labourer were saved for him until the end of the season. Wellcome also introduced one of his innovations to these excavations: aerial photography using a box kite, which was the first time this was used in archaeology. It was also made a rule that no applicant to the Jebel Moya Camp should be turned away. The Camp Commandant had to find suitable work for each one, including the handicapped who were assigned to appropriate jobs like mending baskets or cutting grass for building huts. Wellcome’s welfare work had a significant impact on the local inhabitants of Jebel Moya.

Many Sudan items from the Welcome Collection are available to view on Sudan Memory. Further items are available via the Wellcome Collection’s online collections and library.

Wellcome excavations in Sudan (Jebel Moya): cattle.

Slatin Pasha (Sir Rudolf Carl Slatin). Oil painting by Salim S. Haddad, 1896.

A doum palm tree (Hyphaene thebaica) in Nubia sheltering three people. Wood engraving by Faguet, c. 1867.

Photographic automatic kite

Surgical Instruments. Kordofan, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.

Sudan: a man grinding with a large pestle and mortar. Photograph, ca. 1920.

Sudanese Nuba shoe pattens. Photograph, ca. 1920.

Sir Gerald Graham directing the hoisting of patients on board a hospital ship, Sudan. Wood engraving by J.N., 1885.

Guards outside House of Boulders, Jebel Moya site, Sudan.

The Gordon Memorial College, Khartoum, Sudan: laying of the foundation stone. Process print after a wood engraving.

Wellcome excavation in Sudan: natural reservoir.

Sudan: barbering, tooth-drawing and cupping being practised.

Gebel Moya (Jebel Moya), Sudan: a grave showing a skeleton during excavation, before its removal. Photograph, 19--.

The Khartoum Health Service.

Wooden prayer board or 'lohn', Sudan, 1801-1910.

The world united against malaria: 15 MMS / Sudan.

Illustration from the fourth report of the Wellcome Research Laboratories at the Gordon Memorial College, Khartoum / Andrew Balfour, Director.

Jebel Moya site, the House of Boulders

Sir Gerald Graham directing the hoisting of patients on board a hospital ship, Sudan. Wood engraving by J.N., 1885.

Wellcome excavations in Sudan: Segadi Wells, 1912.

General Gordon standing on the stairs of his house about to be speared by dervishes. Etching by H. Dicksee after G. W. Joy.

A Sudanese man suffering from mental illness is restrained with a y-shaped piece of wood bolted around his neck, Sudan. Photograph, 1947.

Hauling a boulder at Jebel Moya, Sudan.

Sudan: a barber at work on a seated customer in the street, his tools spread out on the ground next to him. Photograph, ca. 1920.

Colour lithographs from the Ahfad Center for Reproductive Health, circa 1999.

British ambulance wagon used in the Sudan during World War I: view of the back of the vehicle, showing the interior. Photograph, 1915/1918.

Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories, Khartoum: laboratory used by the director. Photograph, c. 1920.

Dr Oldham attending a patient at Jebel Moya, Sudan.

Henry Wellcome and his medical officer Dr Ray.

Wellcome excavations in Sudan: aerial photograph.

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