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Papers on the East Indies, etc.

Call Number: MS E14


Bound volume containing 28 formerly independent items written by French-Swiss surgeon Laurent Garcin, written while he worked for the Dutch East India Company. Items include his logbooks, journals, essays, notes, letters, etc., focusing on such topics as natural history; voyages; politics; etc.


  • approximately 1720-1728, 1732, after 1740, after 1753


Language of Materials

French, some Dutch

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Laurent Garcin

Laurent Garcin, born at Grenoble in 1683, left France for Switzerland with his Huguenot family after the Edict of Nantes was renounced in 1685. Garcin studied medicine in Holland and joined the Dutch army as a surgeon, serving in Flanders, Portugal, and Spain.

Garcin was then recruited by the Dutch East India Company. He made three voyages to Asia between 1720 and 1729, recording observations about the botany he observed while traveling and bringing back plant specimens and seeds for European gardens.

After returning to Europe, Garcin continued his medical studies at Leiden, graduating as a doctor at Reims. After marrying Mademoiselle Maystre, he returned to Neuchatel to practice medicine.

Due to his studies of tropical Asian flora, Garcin was elected a corresponding member of the Paris Academy of Sciences and an honorary member of the Royal Society of London. Laurent Garcin died in 1752.


1 volume : Binding: 19th-century (?) brown marbled paper over cardboard; vellum spine and corners; spine label orange leather, gold-tooled: "Laurent Garcin Manuscrits." Binding Title: Binding is marked "Laurent Garcin. Manuscrits" There is no interior title for the collection as a whole. Foliation: Only items 6, 7, 17, 27c, contain original pagination; all other items were given separate interior foliation in pencil in 1963. Total number of leaves (including free flyleaves and blanks): 368 To express a leaf number, give item and interior foliation; i.e., 18:13 is the 13th leaf in item 18. Ornamentation: Pencil drawing of bird formerly laid in at 7:10; removed to MS P575. Mangosteen in ink tipped in on 7:57. Oxyoides in ink (2 full-size plates) tipped in on 7:59. Coloured coconut palm folded and tipped in on 7:80. 2 sky-line (nautical?) views of pagodas?: 12:10. Marginal drawing on 15:5. Pencil drawing of lettuce-family leaves: 16:6 Scribe and Authorship: Items 3, 6, 8-27 are in the hand of the writer of item 3, which is signed Laurent Garcin; no others are signed. Most are originals; some are notes he made from others' works. Items 7 and 19 are enriched versions of one of his logbooks, in another's hand, perhaps an editor's. The text of item 4 may be by Garcin, or by another. Items 1-2 are notes by later owners. Items 5 and 28 appear to be strays. Material: Paper. ; Binding: 34.2 cm high

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection consists of Garcin's logbook/journals, bound together into a single volume. Although Garcin's headquarters were at Batavia (the capital of the Dutch East India Company empire), he spent most of his time on Company ships making voyages by various routes to the east and northwest coasts of India.

Each logbook contains daily entries for location, weather, sighting of ships and land; Garcin often adds brief or lengthy descriptions of his observations. These are primarily land and marine natural history; often descriptions of an area and its inhabitants; descriptions of storms, etc. Some notes on news affecting shipping, such as battles and politics; a little on shipboard (sickness, death) or Company business. Little on daily trade, but some on commerce as part of his botanical/anthropological observations. The logbook/journals are in his hand, and the entries were made from time to time, with some revisions; a more literary and heavily revised version of one is in a different hand.

Most of the remaining collection consists of his historical notes and essays on Eastern botany, China trade, Indian culture and politics. Some of this material is original, some drawn from other sources, such as the translation of an account of the Chinese rebellion in Batavia in 1740, presumably added to his EFast Indies papers when home in Switzerland. There is also his report of the comet of 1723; and a family letter by him dated Neuchatel, 1732. A laid-in drawing of a bird has been removed to a folder at MS P575.

Physical Location

MS E14

Physical Location

MS P575

Physical Location

MS P78

Custodial History

pre-1847: Owner neither a Garcin nor a Candolle. Evidence: item 2.

1847: Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle, 1806-1893, of Geneva, Swiss botanist. Evidence: item 2b, signed and dated.

later: Casimir Pyramus de Candolle, 1836-1918, Swiss botanist, son of above. Evidence: item 1, signed C. de C.

ca 1901?: Sir David Prain, 1857-1944, of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, 1885-1905; director, Kew Gardens, 1906-1944; etc. Evidence: letter to Prain dated 1901 found in MS E14.

1945. Francis Edwards, London, Cat 675:551. (b250)

Marks on inner front board: D4020 M4 Cab Ryd/-/- 96


“X. Biographie Nationale." Le Conservateur Suisse, ou Recueil Complet des Étrennes Helvétiennes, XIII. 1831, B8970, vol. 13
Guide to the Laurent Garcin Collection
Papers on the East Indies, etc.
Finding aid prepared by alh, 1987; revised by ksc, 2006. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2006.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Papers on the East Indies, etc. by Laurent Garcin, MS E14, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States