As I catalogued the Roslin glass slides collection and some of the rare books one name, and occasionally photograph of, kept appearing – Professor Robert Wallace. Wondering who he was and how he might have been involved with the animal genetics programme at the University of Edinburgh, I decided to investigate.
According to his biography on Archives hub:
Robert Wallace was born into a farming family at Wallace Hall, Glencairn, Dumfries and Galloway, on 24 June 1853. He was educated at Tynron School and Hutton Academy. He studied at Edinburgh University and was awarded the degree of M.A. in December 1920, and thereafter managed farms for his father and farmed for himself and his brother. He was interested in every aspect of farm livestock recognising the importance of scientific agriculture, and throughout his career he sought to improve the standard of agriculture in Britain and the Commonwealth. In 1882 he was appointed Professor of Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester and then in 1885 he returned to Edinburgh University as Professor of Agriculture and Rural Economy. In the early years of his office a course in Forestry was added to the curriculum for students, then a course in Agricultural Entomology, and in 1892 and an Ordinary B.Sc. was instituted. He also established the Edinburgh Incorporated School of Agriculture and this led to the official recognition of Edinburgh by the then Board of Agriculture as an agricultural teaching centre. Later on, the East of Scotland College of Agriculture, founded in 1907, merged with the University School to form the basis of the modern School of Agriculture. Wallace occupied the Chair of Agriculture and Rural Economy until 1922. In that year too, an Honours degree in Agriculture was instituted. He was also the Garton Lecturer in Colonial and Indian Agriculture, 1900-1922. In the pursuit of his study and interests, he travelled to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Southern Africa and Malaysia, as well as the United States of America, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, and Japan. Towards the end of his career, between 1914 and 1917, Wallace engaged in correspondence with Woodrow Wilson, President of the USA. The subject of his concern was the treatment of prisoners and hostages in Germany. His publications include Farm live stock of Great Britain (1889), The rural economy and agriculture of Australia and New Zealand (1891), Argentine shows and live stock (1904), and, Heather and moor burning for grouse and sheep (1917). Professor Robert Wallace died on 17 January 1939.
While some of his papers (1 volume; 2 small bundles; c. 1914-1920) may be found in the Centre for Research Collections, Main Library, University of Edinburgh (Reference number: GB 237 GB 237 Coll-87 / Location Gen. 554-555; Gen. 867F).; there are also numerous glass slides from the Roslin collection used by him as teaching material as well as images of him in East Africa, Egypt, Canada and the United States and several books that were owned by him on horses and Shorthorn cattle. There is even a photograph of him teaching Canadian soldiers about agriculture at the University of Edinburgh during World War I! Professor Robert Wallace, what’s known about him, seems to have been an important figure in agriculture, rural economy and the natural sciences at the University of Edinburgh with his passion for exploration, documentation and knowledge.
Thank you for this article. Seeing photographs of Professor Wallace, smiling, engaged and real was a true gift. The Farm Live Stock series cattle photographs are characters in my life, and I see the author now as a character as well.
I am very glad you like the photographs, Kathryn!
I read about him in one newspaper that he had visited India for about four months and travelled about 30,000 miles and wrote about Indian Agriculture .Moreover had written books. I want to know the names of the books.
Hi, thanks for your comment. You can find books written by Robert Wallace by searching Worldcat, a catalogue which pulls together details of holdings from different libraries around the world. A search for Robert Wallace as author name with ‘agriculture’ as a keyword and the limiting dates of 1860-1939 brings up this list: https://www.worldcat.org/search?q=kw%3Aagriculture+au%3Arobert+wallace&fq=yr%3A1860..1939+%3E&qt=advanced&dblist=638
I hope this information is useful.
Interested in article as I found two portrate pictures in a family file and wondered if anyone knows if he is related to a William Wallace who taught at the Andersonian University Glasgow in 1856 1857.
Many thanks for your interest. I haven’t seen any reference to William Wallace being a relation, but I will keep an eye out!
All the best,