It has been a while since I blogged about Thomas Algernon Chapman, the gentleman whose coleoptera and lepidoptera specimens we have at Hereford museum, but with little information. I summarised my findings so far in a previous post so will not go into detail now; you can find that post here.
I have been working away on this project since then and have made some more headway. Part of this was visiting the Natural History Museum library after finding out that some of his photographs and drawings are stored there. I spent a couple of hours going through them, noting down anything of interest as well as taking some photographs. Although I didn’t find any specific clues about his life or methods, it did provide a lovely insight into him as a person. Reading notes written in his own hand was pretty cool. Here are some of the images.
Not long after visiting the NHM I was able to go to the Hereford Record Office (HRO). It turned out that they had two letters from Chapman to the city requesting that his pension allowance be reviewed; he didn’t feel that he was awarded enough considering the amount of time and effort he had put into his working there, as well as the nature of his resignation. It was amazing to read the typewritten transcript (Chapman had written the letters originally in 1896). The phrases and language used so eloquently by Chapman evoke the period and the way he describes what we would presumably call depression nowadays is quite sad. Some have said he sounds ungrateful and stroppy in these letters but knowing how respected he was in his life I can’t help but think the whole thing is a bit tragic. Here are some excerpts (the paragraphs separated by a symbol are from different points in the letter).
I am now working on putting all of this information into a report. To facilitate this I am using Prezi again, although at the rate it’s going I may end up using the Prezi as the report. Check it out here and see what you think (bear in mind that it’s a work in progress). The next stop is to visit the Holmesdale Natural History Club in Reigate (where he retired to after leaving Hereford and presumably getting the pension he desired) and then in the new year I am due to visit the Oxford University Natural History Museum to compare our collection with their material. The end is nigh! I’ll keep you posted…