Material collected by Alexander Howard Ross, English colonial official in Ashante, Gold Coast, and Sierra Leone, including 158 photographs, correspondence of the Sierra Leone Development Co Ltd, an essay by him on West African piracy, and scrapbook.

Alexander Howard Ross (1880-1965), Commissioner, Southern Province of Sierra Leone, 1920-1928
Publication details: 
Most of the photographs dating from Ashanti, Gold Coast, and Sierra Leone, 1905-1920. Other material from England and Africa, 1930-1961.
SKU: 13677

The bulk of Ross's papers is deposited in the Rhodes House Library at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The present collection derives from Ross's sister, Mrs Paterson. Ross's entry in Who Was Who gives the following description of his career: 'Entered service of Gold Coast Government, 1905; served as Assistant District Commissioner, District Commissioner, and acting Provincial Commissioner in Ashante, Northern Territories of Gold Coast; acting Secretary for Native Affairs, 1919; Provincial Commissioner, Sierra Leone, 1920; Commissioner of the Southern Province, Sierra Leone, 1920-28; County Councillor, Hertfordshire; Platoon Commander Herts Bn Home Guard, 1940'. The present description is divided into four sections: photographs; items relating to the Sierra Leone Development Co Ltd of Freetown; manuscript and typescript of Ross's essay on West African pirates; scrapbook. ONE. 158 original black and white photographs dating from Ross's service in West Africa: around a third from the Ivory Coast, 1908-1916, and around two-thirds from Sierra Leone, 1916-1928; with 14 photographs (eight in colour) of Ross in England. 113 of the photographs arranged in three albums (see below) and the rest loose. Images include Ross in both white formal uniform (dress sword, pith helmet) and more usually in fatigues, posing with natives, and hunting, shooting and sailing, native customs and local scenery, colonial events, interiors and colleagues. Around a dozen photographs show Ross in England, including a formal portrait of Ross, with dress sword, at the time of his 'CBE Buckingham Palace 1929'. The captions give a feel of the subject matter: 'Bundu devils of the Women's Secret Society', 'Myself & staff at the conference 12th Sept 1922 [identifying seven individuals]', 'Slave Burracoon (prison) ruins discovered by me at Plantain. Lady S[later] on the ruined wall. Newton the slave trader & pirate lived here', '9 foot Canon discovered on Plantain Island Sierra Leone Southern Province 1925', 'Leopard shot | Southern Province Sierra Leone 1926', 'Snake charmer from Pujehun', 'H[is]. E[xcellency the Governor]. and H[arold]. R[oss]. receiving assembled chiefs Sembuhun Agricultural Show', 'The monarch of Fiama & his escort - on right', 'Corner of my verandah. I am writing at table - Tiger [native manservant] in background. H.', 'Self and Tiger 1916', 'After the Faiso [sic] Court decision. Outside the Court Mano River', 'Pujehun My Home Sierra Leone West Africa 1925-1926', 'Wanje loads of clerks off down river', 'Crossing the Moa river - near Liberian frontier Feb 1922', 'H. E. arriving at Pugehun 12/10/27 (view of my launch)', 'Wanje River 1) leaving riverside camp daylight: laden boats with provisions, kit, guns camp furnature [sic] and crockery', 'Lake Kasse 1929 wild guinea fowl shooting', 'Moa River 1928 [shooting] at a crocodile', 'Camp Liberian frontier Jan 1922', '[3 photographs] Liberian Frontier. No 2 taken Xmas Day 1921 Note by H. R. Very pleased bagged 4 duck, 1 bush fowl, 2 guinea fowl, 1 pelican'; 'H. R. off to hold court 31st. Dec 1921 Liberian frontier', 'Camp Liberian frontier. Dealing with official mail', 'Shenge about 1922', 'Sunbuya 1921 Top Barracks Bottom Pioneer station', 'S. Province Pioneer Motor Road', 'Sea breaking on the lagoon, Liberian frontier 1921', 'Protectorate police', 'Shenge "My boat sailing out to the islands"', 'Shenge camp mess room', 'House and garden Pujehun 1922', 'Sand where John Newton did his Euclid Plantain Island S. Sierra Leone'. First album (Ivory Coast): Portrait (24.5 x 17 cm), in white and brown leather, containing 41 photographs (all black and white) dated from 1908 to 1914. Including: 'Chief of Tekimentia & Court W. P. Ashanti 1912', 'Sleeping sickness patient in Hammock Suryani', three photographs of a 'Boxing contest Sunyani. [native] Privates of I. W. G. C. Regiment', 'Dr. Bourguignon [elsewhere described as 'The Chief'] Bondoukou Ivory Coast 1912', 'Kintampo New Town George St', 'View over the front to frontier hills. Clearing forest for site of new station', 'Kunkwa, Salaga. 1910 Northern Territories', 'In Camp Drodje South Easter Frontier 1908', 'Convicts Sunyani 1912', 'Hausa Malan "waiting for Messiah" Kwittah 1908', 'H R & two elephant tusks', 'Baggage crossing Tano River'. Second album (Ivory Coast): Portrait (34 x 23 cm), in red cloth, containing 11 faded black and white photographs, dated to 1916. Including: 'Meeting of Chiefs. Bondoukou 14/7/16', 'Bondoukou Public Dancing', 'Street in Bondoukou', 'Bondoukou girls', 'Dye Pits Bondoukou', 'The Alamami', 'Mosque', 'Fete Republique Francais Bondoukou 14/7/16'. Third album (Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone): Landscape (24 x 32 cm), in black cloth, containing 62 photographs (54 in black and white and 8 in colour), of which 50 (in black and white) are dated from 1916-1928, 4 are shots of Ross in England in 1930, and the last 8 (in colour) are photograph of Ross at Puttenham in 1959 and 1961. Two of the loose photographs are group portraits, laid down on card. The first is captioned 'Legislative Council 1928' and shows a group of 26 individuals (all identified on the mount), including the Governor and Ross, formally dressed in two rows in front of a grand official building; the second is also captioned 'Legislative Council Sierra Leone 1928', is a closer shot of 24 men (this time unidentified). Another photograph shows a large group of amused colonial officials and their wives under a thatched roof, looking on with amusement at a scene out of shot, with four individuals identified: 'Lady Slater [Governor's wife] | H.R.H. [the Prince of Wales] | H. Ross | H[is]. E[xcellency the Governor Sir Alexander Ransford Slater]. | Halsey'. TWO. 12 typed items relating to the Sierra Leone Development Co Ltd of Freetown. Totalling 12pp., 4to; 6pp., foolscap 8vo; Including two incoming letters (one with long manuscript postscript), copies of correspondence and of 'cables exchanged', a typed list of 'European Employees', a typed list of ingredients for the 'Xmas staff dinner'. THREE. 'Some notes on the Pirates and Slavers active around Sierra Leone and the West Coast of Africa 1680-1723 by H. Ross': original holograph manuscript and typescript, both dated August 1927. Later published in Sierra Leone Studies, Issue 11 (Institute of African Studies, Fourah Bay College, 1928). The manuscript is 57pp., foolscap 8vo, in official folder, with covering Autograph Letter Signed (2pp., 12mo) to 'Morrison', dated 4 September 1927, and headed 'Urgent', giving instructions for the typing up of the essay ('Please have it divided between three clerks & done as quickly & carefully as possible in duplicate.'). The typescript is 53pp., foolscap 8vo., signed by 'H. Ross | Southern Province | Sierra Leone', and in folder carrying title and notes: 'Uncorrected proof' and 'Chief Clerk | Make clean copy & type in duplicate | HR'. FOUR. Scrapbook (35 x 27 cm) containing 48 items, 1930-1953. With two autograph labels pasted inside front cover: 'Alexander Howard Ross. | Political Service. British West Africa | Gold Coast 1905-1920 | Sierra Leone 1920-1929' and 'This book is the property of my sister Mrs Paterson. | H Ross'. Including: a manuscript map by Ross (as representative of the Sierra Leone Development Company), dated 1930, showing a proposed railway line between Peppel Island and the Marampa mines, for the 'Shipping of iron ore'; 8 invitation cards (garden party for the Prince of Wales, April 1925; Freetown Agricultural Show, and others); 14 press cuttings relating to Ross; material relating to his activities as Hertfordshire County Councillor; two postcards of Sierra Leone (one dated 1924); three items relating to donations by Ross to the Royal College of Surgeons; two items concerning Ross's place in 'the "Worcester" crew against the "Conway" in the annual boat race, on the 3rd June, 1898'. Also a copy of 'The Dog Watch' ('The Magazine of the Incorporated Thames Nautical Training College, H.M.S. "Worcester"'), 'Lent, 1965' (with article stating that Ross's 'reports, diaries, writings, etc. [...] while in the Colonial Service, West Africa, are now in the possession of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Oxford University, and deposited in the Rhodes House Branch of the Bodleian Library. This collection will show historians in the future what the Colonial Service really was.').