Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

Livingstone’s Composition Methods
As Livingstone traveled in Manyema in 1870 and 1871, he ran short of many supplies, in one instance noting that he needed "Pens = Paper letters ink" (297b/162). As a result, during this period he resorted to using improvised composition materials for both his letters and diary.
Livingstone wrote the 1871 Field Diary over a series of odd scraps of paper. Some of these scraps contained pre-printed text, while others were notes or letters previously sent to Livingstone by other individuals. The following table sets out Livingstone’s "undertexts."
Project File Prefix Undertext
DLC297b, DLC297c A single issue of The Standard (24 Nov. 1869)
NLS10703 An envelope and enclosure dated 12/2/70 by John Kirk and addressed "Dr David Livingstone HRM Consul Ujiji & Elsewhere"
DLC1120b An envelope addressed "Dr Livingstone care of Dr Kirk"
RHOLAfrs16-1 An envelope and enclosure addressed "Dr. Kirk Consulate Zanzibar care of H.M. Commissioner Seychelles"
The notes found in the headers of the XML transcriptions of each folio in the project archive include further details about these undertexts.
Figures 1, 2, 3, 4 The undertexts of Livingstone's folia: 297b/139-156 (upper left), 10703/38r (upper right),
1120b/r (lower left), 16-1/172bv (lower right) .
When Livingstone’s supply of iron gall ink dwindled in Nyangwe, the village in which he composed most of the 1871 Field Diary, he used local materials to concoct more ink:
7th April 1871 made this ink with the seeds
of a plant called by the Arabs Zingifure
It is known in India and here is used
by the Manyema to dye virambas and
ornament their faces and heads (297c/107)
As a result, the Nyangwe portion of the 1871 Field Diary contains at least three kinds of inks: iron gall ink, Zingifure ink, and, on one page (297c/146), a mixture of the two.
Figures 5, 6, 7. Iron Gall, 297b/153 (left); Zingifure,
297b/142 (center); Iron Gall-Zingifure, 297b/146 (right).
An analysis of the ink spectra for this portion of the diary offers further insights into Livingstone’s writing practices during this period. Imaging scientist Roger L. Easton, Jr., has produced graphs of the relevant ink spectra (basic version and expanded version) by mapping the reflectance curves of select ink pixels across the spectral image set of a given folio.
Figures 8, 9. Ink Spectra: Iron Gall,
297c/106 (top); Zingifure, 297/129 (bottom).
Collectively these graphs allow us to track the changing chemical composition of Livingstone’s ink from page to page and, when combined with visual examination of the diary pages, can be used to chart Livingstone’s overarching patterns of ink use in this portion of the diary.
File Prefix Diary Page(s) Ink Additional Notes
DLC297c 102 to 106 Iron Gall Livingstone’s first copy-book begins with 297c/102. 297c/106 contains a small addition in Zingifure ink, apparently introduced some time after this page was written.
DLC297c 107 to 115 Zingifure 297c/107 begins with the entry for 7 April 1871, in which Livingstone describes making Zingifure ink.
DLC297b 116 to 119 Zingifure
DLC297c 120 to 133 Zingifure
DLC297b 132 to 145 Zingifure Livingstone repeats the numbers 132 and 133. 297c/132 and 297c/133, then 297b/132 and 297b/133 is the correct order.
DLC297b 146 Iron Gall-Zingifure (& Zingifure) Livingstone writes the page number and the word “Journal” at the head of this page in Zingifure ink. He appears to use a combination of Zingifure and Iron Gall for the first paragraph, and Iron Gall for the second.
DLC297b 147 to 156 Iron Gall
(& Zingifure)
Livingstone writes the page number and the word “Journal” at the head of each page in this series in Zingifure ink. He uses iron gall ink for the rest of the text.
DLC297b 157 and 158 Zingifure
DLC297b 159 to 161 Iron Gall
(& Zingifure)
Again, Livingstone writes the text at the head of these pages in Zingifure ink, then uses iron gall ink for the rest of the page.
DLC297b 162 Zingifure,
then Iron Gall
Livingstone writes the “note” which comprises the first half of this page in Zingifure ink. The rest of the page, including the text written over the Zingifure entry at the center of the page, consists of a series of diary entries in iron gall ink.
DLC297b 163 Zingifure
These patterns, as the following pages show, provide a fascinating insight into Livingstone’s objectives and strategies in composing this section of the 1871 Field Diary.
Manuscript Composition (cont)