Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

The Manuscript: An Overview
The manuscript of Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary forms the last third of a longer diary that records Livingstone’s travels in Manyema, a region that today lies in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This longer diary, the Manyema Diary (1870-71), encompasses over 160 numbered pages as well as several unnumbered fragments (Clendennen 1979:275-77, Field Diaries 34-39).
Figure 1. Fold-out map, detail, from Livingstone's Last Journals (1874), vol. 1. The approximate extent of Livingstone's final travels. The
cartographer has represented Lake Victoria as a series of lakes.
Download of high-resolution TIFF, version 1 (20MB), version 2 (28MB),
or JPEG, version 1 (5.6MB), version 2 (2MB), of the map.
During his last expedition (1866-73), Livingstone usually used small "pocket-books" or "metallic note-books" to keep his diary (Waller, in Livingstone 1874:iv). When time permitted, he expanded and revised the notes in the pocket-books to produce the Unyanyembe Journal (1866-72), a single large volume that posthumously became the basis of The Last Journals (1874). Livingstone filled thirteen pocket-books in the years before his meeting with Stanley (1866-71) and an additional four during and after his time with Stanley (1871-73). The Unyanyembe Journal and all of the pocket-books (numbered by Livingstone from I to XVII) were brought back to Britain and survive to the present day (Clendennen 1979:273, 275-76, Journal 11 and Field Diaries 14-30; Helly 1987:64-65,130).
However, Livingstone began to run low on pocket-books while traveling in Manyema. To compensate, he continued to write in pocket-book XIII (28 June 1869 – 25 Feb. 1871), but also began to compose the Manyema Diary (17 Aug. 1870 – 3 Nov. 1871) using whatever paper he had on hand. This diary includes pages from an unidentified book of sermons, a map of Lake Albert from the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, sheets from the Pall Mall Budget (21 Aug. 1869) and The Standard (24 Nov. 1869), and various old envelopes and enclosures. When a page already had printed text on it, Livingstone turned the page ninety degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise and wrote at a perpendicular angle to the printed text. In this way, he created a series of diary pages that have both "undertext" (the printed text) and "overtext" (Livingstone’s handwritten text). Once his supplies ran low and he was unable to create iron gall ink, Livingstone resorted to using ink made from a local African clothing dye that he called "Zingifure" (see Terms, People, Places).
Figure 2. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/159-136.
Iron gall ink on the left-hand page, Zingifure ink on the right.
These expedients have rendered the Manyema Diary unique among Livingstone’s diaries. The diary’s physical appearance strikingly captures the extreme and arduous circumstances under which Livingstone lived and travelled in this period of his life. Today the diary is in a fragile state: its pages, which were also subject to adverse African environments, are crumbling, and large portions of Livingstone’s handwritten text have become illegible due to fading, blotting, water damage, and other problems. Even when visible, Livingstone’s words are obscured by the printed texts over which he wrote. As a result, the manuscript of the Manyema Diary poses considerable challenges for its readers, especially as large segments of the diary are all but invisible to the naked eye.
Figures 3, 4. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/144, detail. A portion
of the diary in color (top) and spectral ratio (bottom) versions.
The Manuscript (cont)