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National Museum of Australia

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  • William Scoresby Routledge collection(10)

    Indian Root Pills
    Pharmaceutical case
    Glass vial
    Glass vial

    This collection consists of one small, dark green, leather travelling medicine case reputed to have belonged to explorer William Scoresby Routledge. The case contains five 'saltmouth' or wide mouth, rounded, square, clear glass bottles that contained powdered medicinal substances. There is also one smaller brown bottle of Dr Morse's Indian Root pills.

    William Scoresby Routledge was born in Melbourne in 1859. On the death of his father's brother, and business partner, the family returned to England about 1867. Routledge graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford in 1882. He then studied medicine at University College London and in 1883 was awarded the Physiology prize, he was also elected to the Royal Geographical Society. In 1888 he won the prestigious Erichsen prize for practical surgery but left university the following year without qualifying as a doctor.
    Routledge lived with the Micmacs in Newfoundland and then with the Kikuyu in Africa. He returned to Africa with his wife Katherine in 1906. They collected Kikuyu tools, weapons and ornaments for the British Museum and, in 1910, wrote With a Prehistoric People, the Akikuyu of British East Africa.
    The Routledges sailed to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) arriving in 1914 and carried out the first archaeological survey of the island. Katherine wrote a fictional account of their work in her book the Mystery of Easter Island. Scoresby Routledge died in Cyprus in 1939. The Routledge papers are held at the Royal Geographical Society in London.