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Remarks on the Plague at Nairobi [archive]

 
Remarks on the Plague at Nairobi [archive] by HARAN, James Augustine (1902)
Author: HARAN, James Augustine
Title: Some Remarks on the Recent Outbreak of Plague at Nairobi [an extensive archive]
 
Year: 1902
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Nairobi, East Africa Protectorate - Kenya
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £1950
 
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Added under Manuscripts  

First hand manuscript account by James Haran of treating plague victims in Nairobi in 1902 together with the rest of his medical and personal archive as Principal Medical Officer, East Africa Protectorate (Kenya). The highlight of this collection is his manuscript narrative, 'Some Remarks on the recent outbreak of the Plague at Nairobi, March-May 1902. Sd J A Harran M.O' which he marked 'Confidential' and addressed to the British Foreign Secretary - the Marquess of Lansdowne. Black ink on foolscap paper, extensively revised draft, versos only, pp 23 c6000 words. This concludes with a technical account of the symptoms and prognoses of the cases which Haran treated, thus: 'The area around the gland was "puffy" the overlying skin not discoloured and the bubo itself very in-dulated, roughened and extremely tender on palpation even in unconscious patients. The size of the bubo varied from between half an inch in length by a quarter of an inch in breadth to one and half in length by one inch in breadth.' Haran presents a table containing 'the relative frequency of regional [around the body] affection by the primary bubo' with a further table showing 'numbers of the various tribes or castes affected.' Haran's report begins with an account of the haphazard and insanitary history of the foundation of Nairobi as an unplanned and swiftly overgrown township that had developed around a railway junction half a decade earlier as 'huts [were] replaced by iron tenements wherein their occupants frightful of air and sunshine, festered in an ever growing collection of filth and vice. Thanks [the report is laced with irony] to the absence of efficient surface drainage the surrounding plains presented numerous and picturesque lakelets during the rains wherein the anopheles and culidda also new arrivals, were enable to breed with vigour'. Haran describes the first victim of the 1902 plague outbreak reported by 'Sinor Ribero as existing in the house of a silversmith in one of the Streets of the Bazaar' and takes credit for the authorities' vigorous response, noting the effect of 'air and sunshine of persons in the incubation stage of Plague'. In particular he deplores the compulsory evacuation following the outbreak of plague among the 'Europeans and Asiatics in the employ of the Uganda Railway... This is too dreadful! Why is the poor labourer harried and his sick converged to a camp were [sic] death awaits them?' Haran framed proposals to prevent the recurrence of the plague including a Death Register and most importantly, a Sanitary Code. (Following the Nairobi plague outbreak 1902 there were plans to move Nairobi entirely from its insanitary location but these came to nothing as the nascent city continued to develop at great speed, swiftly outrunning the drastic remedial schemes of local officials and the British government including Winston Churchill, then Under Secretary for the Colonies.) Further documents relating to the plague include a formal despatch from the Foreign Secretary congratulating the Medical Officers for their conduct during the outbreak of plague in 1902 and a similar letter from the Commissioner's office in Nairobi. There is a typescript 'Narrative Account of the Outbreak of Plague at Kisumu June-October 1908'(pp 5, iii) accompanied by a detailed map 'F C Kyle fecit' showing the location of plague houses in the township and a further typed letter from 1917 regarding the plague. Additionally a large 'Public Notice. Plague', printed in Accra, Gold Coast, 1908 (50x38cm) giving instructions for prevention of outbreaks. Alongside these documents is a substantial collection of letters and documents relating to Haran's career training at Trinity College Dublin, subsequently securing his position in East Africa where he rose to become Chief Medical Officer. His views on racial types are presented at great length in his typescript 'account of some of the anatomical and physical differences observable between South African Coloured Races and Europeans' Taken as a whole the archive can offer a significant contribution to the history of what would become modern day Kenya. Other items in the archive include:

1 Tick Fever, pp 9 typescript
2 Foreign Office Documents, various, including his appointment as Medical Officer in 1898
3 Commission as Major in First World War
4 Documents relating to plans for sanitary reform in Mombasa
5 Printed 'List of Medical Officers in the... East African Protectorates. January 1915'
6 Medical certificates from Trinity College, Dublin with references
7 Some Anthropological Notes on the South African Coloured Mine Labourer, stapled typescript, rectos only, pp 89, one page detached – possibly incomplete. An ‘account of some of the anatomical and physical differences observable between South African Coloured Races and Europeans…’ presumed to be by Haran.

Some of Haran's papers are held by at Yale's Whitney Medical Library.
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