These papers illustrate the career of Frederick Smith, covering his days as a student at the Royal Veterinary College (1873-1876), as a veterinary officer for the cavalry in India (1879-1885), as professor at the Army Veterinary School, Aldershot, and then returning to service, rising through the ranks during the Second Anglo-Boer War until joining the War Office during the First World War. Papers relating to this work include official correspondence, case notes, diaries and research data. Smith contributed a great deal of literature to the veterinary profession, with papers regularly published in journals from 1876 until the year of his death. The papers include research notes and data, extracts from other sources, drafts and proofs, and published copies of the articles.
Smith’s research and publications covered a broad scope, but there were particular interests in horse anatomy and physiology; stable hygiene and nutrition; saddlery; the loss of horses in war; and the eye and foot of the horse. Smith was also concerned with veterinary education and the reputation and status of the veterinary profession as a whole, and this is reflected in his correspondence with his peers.
There is very little information regarding Smith’s personal and family life within the collection. Some mention is made in Smith’s autobiography, but these papers are wholly concerned with Smith’s professional life and activities.

We currently have digitised parts of the correspondence series of this collection, they are available below. We will be adding to this periodically so follow us on social media or check this space again to find out what new content has been added. For more information on the Frederick Smith papers please click on the archive catalogue link at the bottom of this page.

5 – Letter to Frederick Smith from Francis Galton, 5 Jan 1898

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42, Rutland Gate, S.W.

Jan 5/98

Dear Capt Smith

Your two memoirs, which I enclose, interest me much.

Wd not the title of the M S be better
“Relation between the Weight of a horse and his weight-carrying power”?

What you determine in the relation to his estimated weight carrying power & these seemed wanting evidence to show that the estimate concurred with fact. As it stands, you show that

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the complex of motives by which experts judge, is on the average in direct ratio to the weight of the horse.

I wd suggest if you wish to submit the paper to the R. Soc to make this clear, and to explain the amount of reliance and of responsibility that is extended to experts.

It would be very interesting to collate the judgements of several experts about the same horse, but that wd be an inquiry by itself.

The following however ought to be done – viz show the mean deviation between the estimated and the calculated values in each

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of your 4 groups. Strictly, the ratios of error/weight shd be compared; possibly error (deviation) wd be near enough.

Another thing, in the greater strictness now exercised about the Proceedings, with the view of reducing the bulk of printed matter. I shd therefore suggest (rather strongly) you omitting down to the 2nd method in p. 4, so starting in medias res.

Please let me hesitate about submitting it to the R. Soc untill[sic] I shall have seen it again.

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The subject is not strictly in my line so it will be necessary anyhow for me to read it in in the first case, privately & subject to the approved of Michael Foster. If he or his referree[sic] it is all right the paper wd then go in regularly, which wd give me great pleasure. I should be always delighted to do any thing of the kind for you, you having done so much for me.

I was intending to write to you either to-day or to-morrow, because my article on “Measurement of Horses & Photography” comes out in “Nature” to-morrow. You shall

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have a copy soon after. It would indeed be a great help to me if I could photograph at the Vet: Hospital. Do not answer till you have seen the article. My drawback is that I have to be very careful about weather. Some recurrence of an old Syrian fever (apparently) has now kept me almost to my bedroom for a week or more & though I am getting right, I am not & shall not be capable

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of standing wet & cold like ordinary persons.

A very intelligent nephew of my late wife, Frank Butler who is staying (living) with me & acts as my secretary, would help effectively.

This is the first long letter I have written since my shiverings &c came on.

Very sincerely yours

Francis Galton

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6 – Letter to Frederick Smith from Francis Galton, 7 Jan 1898

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[FS/3/3/2/6]

Jan 7/98

42, Rutland Gate. S.W.

Dear Captain Smith

Here is the paper.

Very sincerely yrs

Francis Galton

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7 – Letter to Frederick Smith from Francis Galton, 13 Jan 1898

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[FS/3/3/2/7]

Jan 12/98

42, Rutland Gate, S.W.

Dear Capt Smith

Thank you very much indeed. I enclose my results.

Is my supposition of 2 errors in measurement (see note at bottom of enclosed) a possibility? If I am right, the results are very fair, except AB which has no business to be ½ inch wrong.

The measures are very easily made under a watchmakers

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lens. & the multiplications by means of Crelle’s tables is still quicker.

I dont think the obliquity of the side scale has led to notable error, it is perspectively shortened thereby to perhaps 2 or 3 % but I have not properly worked it out. (I ought to make a little table.)

Two or three days ago I had a long & instructive talk with Capt Hayes,

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who spoke much of the extreme fidgetiness of thoroughbreds & still more of well bred Hackneys. He showed me his book (wh: I knew before) & in turning over the leaves, I remarked on a zebra standing quietly in a small enclosure, & asked whether a thoroughbred would tolerate being led into a sort of pen, thus :-

[sketch indicating “wall place for horse to stand]

He quite thought the plan wd do

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and suggested a rope for AB, as amply sufficient, because these fidgetty[sic] horses hate touching anything, and a rope could not hurt them. In this case, 2 knots in the rope would give the scale. What do you think of this? I might possibly get the plan tried at some racing stables – not photographing these, but merely seeing whether the horses wd stand quiet under the conditions.

Very faithfully yours,

Francis Galton

I never answered your question about the whistles. I do not put them very near. If you find any hopeful result with the coarse whistle I sent you, I could lend a much more delicate one, better suited for very high notes.

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