Wallace's help: The many people who aided A. R. Wallace in the Malay Archipelago

John van Wyhe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Alfred Russel Wallace was a quintessential Victorian collector-naturalist, remembered for his eight years of collecting throughout the Malay Archipelago, today's Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and East Timor. Written accounts almost always note that Wallace collected 125,660 natural history specimens, but almost no one mentions that he had a great deal of help in assembling this vast collection. His published and unpublished writings contain references to an array of hired assistants, boatmen, porters, cooks and guides. Along with the well-known assistants usually mentioned, Charles Allen and Ali, hundreds of local people helped Wallace by showing him where local animals lived and explaining how they behaved, and they procured the vast majority of the vertebrates in his collection. This article suggests that at least 1,200 individuals helped Wallace in one way or another, and the number could easily have been twice as large.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-68
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
    Volume91 (Part 1)
    Issue number314
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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