Collection of Photographs of Iran, 1874

Scope and Content

The photographs held in a decorated binder, include those of: Venus passing the sun over Iran, December 1874; the interior of the observatory at Isfahan (Ispahan); the astronomical station Baugh-i-Zerecht; bridge at Sende-Roud; a city gate; the Maidan of Isfahan; the Mosquee Royale, Tomb of Ali, and other mosques; views in Qum; and views in other Iranian cities.

Administrative / Biographical History

The photographic Souvenir de L'Expedition Allemande Envoyee a Ispahan pour Observer a Passage de Venus, 1874 once belonged to Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith K.C.M.G (1835-1900).

Robert Murdoch Smith was born in Kilmarnock on 18 August 1835. He was educated at Kilmarnock Academy and studied at Glasgow University. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, 1855, and a Major-General by 1887. Smith was an executive officer with Sir Charles Newton's Archaeological Expedition in Asia Minor, 1856-1859. He explored the Cyrenaice (North Africa, ancient-Greek Libya) and made successful excavations at Cyrene (now Shahhat, Libya), 1860-1861. Smith was Director of the Government Indo-European Telegraph Department, Persian Section, and subsequently Director-in-Chief of the whole Department, 1863-1885. He was sent on special duty to Persia (Iran) by the Foreign Office in 1887. He was also Director of the Museum of Science and Art, Edinburgh (now the Royal Museum of Scotland) and a member of the Board of Trustees and Commissioners for Manufactures. Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith died on 3 July 1900.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who was who ... 1897-1916. London: A. and C. Black, 1920.

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

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Custodial History

The collection is noted on album binding as having been presented to the Library 'with Dr. W. K. Dickson's compliments'.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes Smith material: 1855-87 : correspondence and papers, 1855-1887, National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections NRA 29058 Smith, and correspondence with his father and copies of letters, 1851-1859, Ref. MSS 13595-96.


William Kirk Dickson was the author of The life of Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith (1901). Copy held in Edinburgh University Library at shelfmark .913(39)072 Smi.Dic.

Geographical Names