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Journal of a tour round the world taken by Sir John Fraser (1885-1947)

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-1296

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of three bound volumes being Sir John Fraser's journal of a tour made around the world in 1935. Each volume contains many pages of black and white photographs along with pages of typescript text describing the journey.

The first entry in the journal is dated Tuesday 22 January 1935 and describes the Langholm Hotel and the start of the journey to Southampton to catch the ship (RMS 'Aquitania') bound for New York. A journey across the USA by train followed, via New Orleans, with San Francisco the final destination. From California Fraser would sail aboard the SS 'Mariposa' to Australia with stops in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Samoa (Pago Pago), Fiji, Auckland, and Sydney. The last entry is dated 19 February 1935 describing the Samoan islands and the crossing of the International Date Line.

The second volume starts on 19 February 1935 just after the Date Line and almost on arrival in Fiji. The stops in Auckland and Sydney are also described. While in Sydney Fraser travelled to Brisbane and to Melbourne. He then resumed his sea voyage aboard the P&O vessel 'Narkunda' to Adelaide and onwards across the Great Australian Bight towards Fremantle and Perth. The final entry in the second volume is dated Thursday 21 March 1935 just past Western Australia into the Indian Ocean.

The third volume starts with an entry dated Friday 22 March 1935 close to the midpoint of the Indian Ocean and near the Keeling Islands (or Cocos Islands). The ship sails on to Colombo (Sri Lanka) where Fraser takes a tour to Kandy, and then the voyage continues northwards up the Malabar Coast of India, past Goa, and towards Bombay (Mumbai). After Bombay the vessel sails towards the Arabian Sea heading for Aden, and then into the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. At Suez, Fraser left the vessel for a trip to Cairo and the National Museum and Pyramids, and then on to Port Said to pick up the ship again. His trip then took him to Malta. The last dated entry is Friday 12 April 1935 and describes Marseilles and the journey by train through France to the Channel and then to Dover and London and back to the Langholm.

Within the fist volume there are some photographs of (possibly) the then 'new' Golden Gate Bridge in construction. At some stops on the voyage (e.g. Samoa, Fiji, and Auckland) and in Sydney and across Australia, Fraser had been in the company of doctors and other medical professionals with knowledge of the areas he visited. In Brisbane he gave a lecture. In Melbourne he visited hospitals and listened to talks, and in Adelaide he visited a nursing home, a children's hospital and had lunch with former Edinburgh graduates.


  • Creation: 1935


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of visit.

Biographical / Historical

John Fraser was born in Tain in 1885. Following his education in Tain he studied at Edinburgh University where he undertook medical graduating with honours in 1907 and gaining the Class Medal in Clinical Surgery.

He served as House Surgeon and Assistant Surgeon to Sir Harold Stiles, both in private practice and at Chalmers Hospital. It was his research with his mentor on bone and joint tuberculosis in children which established his surgical reputation. he succeeded Stiles as the regius Professor of Clinical Surgery in 1927.

During the First World War, Fraser served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in France, and was awarded the Military Cross after being wounded in 1916. During his subsequent career, he developed a great interest in cardiac surgery and was the first surgeon in Scotland and only the second in the British Isles to undertake ligation of a patent ductis arteriosis. He received international recognition through the fellowship of various surgical associations and was made honorary fellow of the Royal Australasian and American Colleges of Surgeons.

In 1935, he left London for Southampton and on to New York on board the RMS 'Aquitania' setting out on a world tour. He travelled overland to Los Angeles and crossed the Pacific to Honolulu, to Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. During the journey he visited hospitals and delivered lectures.

Also in 1935, Fraser was appointed surgeon to His Majesty the King in Scotland. He was made Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1937 and was created a Baronet in 1942. He succeeded Sir Thomas Henry Holland as Principal of Edinburgh University in 1944, and on his untimely death he was succeeded in turn by Sir Edward Victor Appleton in 1948.

Sir John Fraser, Bt. KCVO., MC., MD., Ch.M., LL.D., FRCSE., FACS., and Honorary Surgeon in Scotland to HM the King, had died in 1947.


3 Volumes

Physical Location

CLX-A-972; CLX-A-973; CLX-A-974

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired by purchase at auction in January 2011. Accession no: E2011.10.

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Journal of a tour round the world taken by Sir John Fraser (1885-1947) in 1935
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379