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The Wilbur A. Sawyer Papers

Letter from Wilbur A. Sawyer to Margaret Sawyer pdf (399,614 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Wilbur A. Sawyer to Margaret Sawyer
Dr. Sawyer attended a League of Nations Regional Conference in Cape Town, South Africa in November 1932. This letter described some of Sawyer's shipboard activities en route, Cape Town accommodations, and his post-conference itinerary. He also mentioned approaching delegates from other countries about contributing to an international yellow fever immunity survey, made possible by the mouse protection test he helped develop.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
5 (399,614 Bytes)
1932-11-20 (November 20, 1932)
Sawyer, Wilbur A.
Sawyer, Margaret
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Yellow Fever
Exhibit Category:
The Yellow Fever Laboratory: Rockefeller Foundation, 1928-1937
Box Number: 2
Folder Number: 10
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence, 1911-1995
SubSeries: Personal correspondence, 1911-1995
Folder: 1932
Capetown, November 20, 1932
Dear Margaret,
If you were here, with your eyes shut, you would imagine yourself in that little old hotel off the botanic gardens in Brisbane. The doves are making an incessant noise and the early-morning air is fresh and delightful. The most conspicuous trees in the hotel are araucarias, probably Australian hoop pines. General Graham (Indian Med. Service) and I have two adjacent rooms on the top floor (4th by American rules) of the finest hotel here, the Mount Nelson, and we have a common veranda from which we can look over the city and the harbor. Behind the hotel is Table Mountain with its abrupt cliffs. I have a photo of it with its "table-cloth," a thin blanket of thick fog which hangs over the edge, melting as it falls. The weather has been fine, cool except for a few hours in the afternoon. The food is great! Pawpaws for breakfast (brought from Durbau); delicious, ripe pawpaws! And all this we are getting as guests of the government. I also had the kick of coming in with diplomatic privileges. I had wondered how I would convince the customs authorities that three large boxes of vacuum tubes for collecting blood samples were personal effects.
The voyage from Madeira was occupied in large part in writing a paper! It was inevitable that one should be written and the ship was the place to do it. Sir Geo. Buchanan, who
became chairman suggested that I talk at length, and the probability was that what I said would be printed. So I went ahead with my small library of reprints and my typewriter and wrote a paper. It was fortunate, for on arrival, the paper was taken from me for mimeographing for distribution, and it was the first item at the first scientific session.
The sea trip was not typical of the tropics, except from Madeira to the equator. From there on we had trade winds and the boat pitched gently but continuously. I signed up for deck tennis and quoits but played only in the contests and was duly eliminated, twice on the first round and twice on the second. There were a few very good players (tennis) in the younger set.
The meeting has been quite satisfactory to me so far, and I have been very busy. Yellow fever was considered in full session from the beginning instead of in committee, and--
Nov. 24, 1932. 6 a.m.
To-day is mail day--, and the mail closes at mid-day. So I shall resume my interrupted letter. We finished yellow fever yesterday and to-day the Conference will end. From my point of view the meeting has been very successful. The delegates represented all the large countries south of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan except French Equatorial Africa and the Belgian Congo, and I shall be
visiting them both on the return voyage. All of the delegates whom I have approached have agreed to send blood specimens, and it looks as if we should be able to make an extensive survey extending from the Cape of Good Hope to the Sudan and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean without further visiting.
We have had the usual banquets and receptions, but the auto-trips were more interesting to me. The finest was the drive to the Cape of Good Hope and back along False Bay, which they insist is part of the Indian Ocean. We took this drive of over 100 miles on Saturday afternoon. At the cape we had afternoon tea, of course, and took snap-shots and listened to speeches. Our roadway skirted the shore much of the time, and the proteas (reminiscent of the waratah) and everlasting flowers were very interesting. On the way back we stopped at the botanical gardens wholly devoted to native flowers. The silver-leaf tree is a striking native tree with rigid branches covered with long metallic-looking leaves lying along the branches.
This letter should arrive at about Christmas time, and so I wish you all a very merry Christmas! Wish I could be with you! I am sending no presents, as there seems to be nothing here of special interest. Perhaps I shall be able to pick up native things in the
north and in the Congo.
I was invited to return through Tanganyika and told that gov't would probably pay my railway fare, but I decided I would rather go overland from here, particularly as travel by the long route over the Congo is very wasteful of time. So I shall buy a bottle of quinine and go via the Victoria Falls (at low water), Elizabethville, Port Franqui, and rivers, to Leopoldville and Brazzaville. I shall spend Christmas on the lower Congo and shall reach Leopoldville on Dec. 26.
The next few days will be spent in arranging papers and writing belated letters. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, I shall go by train to Johannesburg. From there I shall make a flying visit to Pretoria. In both places are important laboratories. Then I shall start for the Congo via Mapeking[?], etc. At Victoria Falls I shall have a couple of days and shall be the guest of the health officer of Northern Rhodesia. He is arranging also to have me visit a famous copper mine, The Roan Antelope, with his deputy, in the northern part of his territory. Sounds good, doesn't it?
I am scheduled to sail from Matadi by French boat on Jan. 8 and arrive in Lagos on Jan 15. From there I shall sail on the same old "Appam" on Jan 21st.
The Appam should reach Plymouth on Feb. 5 and I should be in London the same day. You may write to me in care of the Victoria Hotel. I shall probably stay only a few days before sailing for the U.S.A. (not Union of South Africa).
Your good letter has come during the break in this one. It is fine to hear from you. I'm glad Gert is enjoying herself, and am not worried over her studies. She will probably do what is needed.
It was very good of you to take Bill to the museum. You will make a naturalist of him yet! I think he has the ideal mother. Why not buy a book on taxidermy for Bill, as a Christmas present from his father. Also please get presents for the others if you have any ideas. Otherwise tell them that I am hoping to gather up a few things for them from the savages and bring them home with me.
Well, I must stop and shave and eat so that I shall be ready for our final plenary sessions. There are 23 delegates and we sit around a table shaped like the letter "C" with no one on the inside. Our meetings are all in Parliament House.
With much, much love to you, Old Sweetheart, and considerable quantities for all the others.
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