Mary Johnson was born in March 1882; her mother died at her birth and her father, James Nowell Johnson, married Elizabeth Burford. Their eldest son, Walter Burford Johnson, born in December 1885, became a doctor and joined the West African Medical Staff in 1912. For much of his career he was engaged in tsetse fly investigation in bush areas of Nigeria, but in 1929 was appointed Director of Medical and Sanitary Services and based in Lagos; he was knighted in 1935. In 1930 Mary Johnson, both of whose parents had died, joined him for an experimental 6 months and in the event remained with him until his death in 1951. She was invited to work with a company of Girl Guides in Lagos and became an active member of the movement. The following photographs relate largely to this period; she gave up in 1937, the year following her brother's retirement, when they returned to England. He was then appointed Director of a settlement of 900 lepers at Botsabelo in Basutoland, and Mary accompanied him. After several years they moved to Lourensford, near Somerset West, Cape Province and finally to a house on the Eerste River. Mary Johnson died in 1972.
A collection of, chiefly amateur, snapshots collected, and in some cases possibly taken, by Mary Johnson M.B.E. They measure up to 120 x 90 mm in size. Only numbers 34, 58 and 72-75 have titles on the backs. Numbers 1-59 have been identified through the help of Miss Josephine Shelley, contacted through Mrs V. Vaughan-Cox, who took the photographs to Nigeria (where she is a member of the Guide Executive) and discussed them with veteran members of the Movement such as Lady Abayomi (née Ajasa), born 1897.
Background biographical information has been supplied by Mr Meredith, chiefly from a recording made by Miss Johnson on 30 January 1971.
Presented by Brian Meredith in 1982-1986.