IRISH GEOLOGISTS AND ENGINEERS IN NINETEENTH CENTURY INDIA: INTERTWINED PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL LIVES
Charles Æmilius Oldham was appointed to the Indian Survey in 1856 and rose to the rank of Deputy-Superintendent. He served in the Madras Presidency with two colleagues Bruce Foote and his fellow Irishman William King, the son of the Professor of Geology at the Queen's College, Galway. Between 1857 and 1867 they mapped an area twice the size of Wales. Oldham also found time to lecture in geology at the Engineering College in Madras. Thomas Harding Going was a railway engineer who worked first in Pennsylvania and Arkansas, before taking up a position with the Madras Railway Company in 1857. Going surveyed and later constructed the Madras [Chennai] to Raichore [Raichur] railway during an eighteen-year period, and overcame major difficulties caused by the difficult terrain in which he had to work. Many lives were lost to cholera and other diseases in building this railway, and occasionally the physical structure of the railway itself failed with tragic consequences.
Collective biographical studies can provide a powerful insight into the social and scientific interactions between members of scientific and professional communities, insights which may be impossible to gain if isolated studies of individuals are carried out. In this case examination of two professionals in India throws light on the close-knit nature of their community, their day-to-day activities, both professional and recreational.