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Baikie, William Balfour  

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...

Article

Boone, Sarah  

Pamela C. Edwards

inventor, lived in New Haven, Connecticut, in the early 1890s. Little is known of her early life; it is not known who her parents were or where she was born. She was, however, one of the first African American women to receive a patent from the United States Patent Office in the nineteenth century. On 26 April 1892 Sarah Boone received her patent for an improved ironing board. As a result, Boone became the fourth African American woman to apply for and receive a patent for a new invention and the first person to receive a patent for an ironing board design.

Those who have written about Boone and her improved ironing board note that her invention was a significant improvement over existing devices According to James Brodie before Boone s ironing board this task normally required taking a plank and placing it between two chairs or simply using the ...

Article

Ferguson, George Ekem  

David Killingray

Fantesurveyor and colonial agent born on the Gold Coast and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He became a teacher and then a civil servant. As an employee of the Gold Coast colony he accompanied the Governor on a mission inland, producing a map that showed the ethnic divisions of the colony. He was entrusted with a further mission to the interior that resulted in Akwamu becoming part of the British protectorate. Ferguson's surveying skills were developed by his work with the British–German Boundary Commission of 1886. In 1887 he came to London and studied mining and surveying at the School of Mines, graduating with a first‐class certificate. During the 1890s Ferguson led important political missions to Asante and to the northern hinterland of what is now modern Ghana. By 1894 he had signed eighteen treaties of trade and friendship with northern rulers Ferguson s reports and precise ...

Article

Ferguson, George Ekem  

Raymond Dumett

treaty maker, cartographer, and one of the great West Africans of his generation, was born to an African mother and a Scottish father in the central coastal town of Anomabu in the Gold Coast’s Fanti region in present-day Ghana. Like several prominent members of the African middle class, he was educated at the famous Wesleyan School of Cape Coast. He also attended school in Sierra Leone. On the basis of strong recommendations, Ferguson was selected to join the colonial government as a clerk in 1881. In 1884 he began his career as a mapmaker by drawing a map of the Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate which was of assistance to the governor in showing the approximate boundaries of various linguistic groups their states and chieftaincies Ferguson proceeded from strength to strength and with each new job effectively completed he was rewarded with greater responsibilities by the colonial government ...

Article

Garner, Richard Lynch  

Jeremy Rich

primate dealer and zoologist, was born on 19 February 1848 in Abingdon, Virginia. Garner grew up in a middle-class family shortly before the American Civil War. His family owned several slaves, and sent him to an African-born slave healer and herbalist for treatment as a young boy. During the Civil War, Garner served in the Confederate Army from 1862 to 1865. Once the war ended, Garner completed his secondary education in Blountville, Tennessee. He spent several years wandering in the western territories in the United States, but then returned to Virginia and married Mary Gross in 1872. Garner worked as a teacher and a real estate broker in the 1870s and 1880s, but harbored an ambition to become a well-known scientist despite his lack of a university education.

Garner s interest in Africa came out of his commitment to biological racism and his fascination with monkeys and ...

Article

Johnston, Keith  

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer and geographer of Africa, was born in Edinburgh in 1844. Alexander Keith Johnston was the son of the eminent geographer and cartographer of the same name, who had established the highly respected engraving and mapmaking firm of W. & A. K. Johnston with his brother William. Although the young Keith was educated at prestigious schools in the Scottish capital, he was also tutored carefully by his father, and learned those European languages in which significant geographical material was published. Like his father, Keith’s interest extended well beyond conventional cartography, and he made important contributions to oceanography, hydrology, and global climatic influences. Both were influential figures in the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), itself the most important national institution in the promotion of worldwide discovery and the development of the nineteenth-century British Empire, not least in Africa.

After a period as superintendent of drawing and engraving at the prestigious ...

Article

Lenz, Oskar  

Jeremy Rich

explorer and geographer, was born on 14 September 1848 in Leipzig, then in the German kingdom of Saxony. He was the son of a shoemaker. After graduating from secondary school at the Nicolaigymnasium, he went to the University of Leipzig. In 1870 he earned a degree in geography from this institution. From 1870 to 1873 he taught at a private school in Vienna, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire became his permanent home for the rest of his life. After having joined the Austro-Hungarian civil service and prepared maps on some of its eastern and southern territories for two years, Lenz decided to become an African explorer in 1874 The Deutschen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung Äquatorial Afrikas DAG a German organization dedicated to exploration in central Africa recruited Lenz to visit the French colony of Gabon There Lenz was to travel up the Ogooué River to see if it connected with ...

Article

Macaulay, Herbert  

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian political activist and journalist, was born Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay on 14 November 1864 in Lagos, Nigeria. He was the seventh child of Thomas Babington Macaulay, founder and principal of the Church Missionary Society Grammar School in Lagos, and Abigail Crowther Macaulay, daughter of the first Anglican bishop in West Africa, Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Macaulay received an outstanding primary and secondary education thanks to his affluent family, and he attended the renowned St. Paul’s school in Breadfruit. In 1881 he joined the Nigerian colonial administration as a clerk. He served in this capacity for the next nine years, and his intelligence and loyalty impressed his British superiors. Governor of Nigeria Alfred Moloney supported Macaulay’s efforts to further his education in England, and Macaulay received a scholarship to study engineering in Plymouth. From 1890 to 1893 the young Nigerian excelled in school and developed a lifelong interest in Western ...

Article

Macaulay, Herbert Samuel Heelas  

Nazneen Ahmed

Influential political activist and founder member of the Nigerian National Democratic Party. The son of distinguished African missionaries, Macaulay was educated at the Church Missionary Society grammar school founded by his father. After completing his education in 1881, he entered the civil service. In 1890 he travelled to England, where he became the first Nigerian to qualify as a civil engineer. On his return to Lagos, he was appointed as a surveyor but soon became dissatisfied with the system, which discriminated against African civil servants. In 1898 he left the civil service to go into private practice as a licensed surveyor and architect but his business never proved to be a success In financial difficulties Macaulay misappropriated funds and was sentenced to two years imprisonment effectively barring him from public office Nevertheless he grew to be an influential figure in Nigerian politics through his staunch editorials for the ...

Article

Sidiyya al-Kabir al-Ntishaiʾi  

Charles C. Stewart

was born in 1776 CE/AH 1190 into one of the lesser fractions (the Ntishaiʾi) of a southwest Saharan clerical (or zawiya) clan, the Awlad Abyiri. His full name was Sidiyya al-Kabir (“the elder”) b. al-Mukhtar b. al-Hayba al-Ntishai’i.

Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the region now known as Mauritania was governed by a loose balance of two types of lineage groups, one that lived largely as predators and another that subsisted as pastoralists. Within the latter group were found nomadic schools in the Islamic disciplines where, judging by the texts studied and written locally, a talented student might advance to levels on a par with advanced education in places like Fez or Cairo.

Sidiyya’s early schooling, consisting initially of his memorization of the entire Qurʾan, would have been conducted under the supervision of his father and uncles, common for youth in the tradition of zawiya tribes like ...