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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Joseph Mullens

Other: Revd. Joseph Mullens 
Dates:  1820, 2 September - 1879, 10 July
Born:  England, London
Died:  Tanzania
Active:  India

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Approved biography for Joseph Mullens
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

After attending divinity school in London and Edinburgh, Mullens was appointed a missionary and sailed for Calcutta in 1844. He became active in photography in the mid-1850s, offering a paper on the applications of photography in India to the Photographic Society of Bengal in 1856. In its 1857 exhibition, Mullens showed five calotype views of Calcutta and Bhowanipore (Bhabanipur). He was appointed a fellow of the Senate of Calcutta University in 1857. None of Mullens’s photographic work is known to have survived. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Amateur, India
Missionary with the London Missionary Society.
Personal: Studied at Coward and University Colleges, London and Edinburgh University. Appointed as a missionary to Calcutta and ordained 5 Sep 1843 at Barbican Chapel. Sailed for Calcutta 9 Sep 1843 and arrived 9 Jan 1844. Took part in the work of the Bhowanipore Christian Institution and in services at the Cooly Bazar Chapel. Married Hannah Catherine Lacroix (b. 1 jul 1826; d. 21 Nov 1861), daughter of Rev. A.F. Lacroix, 19 Jun 1845. In Jun 1846 Mrs Mullens took over the running of the Native Girls’ School and in the same year Mullens took over the pastorate of the Native Church at Bhowanipore. In Jun 1849, at the invitation of the Orissa missionaries, he accompanied his father-in-law on a journey to Cuttack and Puri, the object being to preach to Bengali pilgrims who had come to the annual car festival. Ill-health compelled Mrs Mullens to return to England in 1852, being accompanied as far as Madras by her husband. From Madras he visited many of the South Indian mission stations, including Travancore, Tinnevelly and Tanjore, returning to Calcutta after a four months’ absence. Mrs Mullens returned to India in early 1854. In Sep 1855 Mullens took part in the Bengal Missionaries Conference and in Jan 1857 attended a similar conference in Benares, visiting a large portion of the Upper Provinces. This visit was repeated in later years. Appointed a Fellow of the Senate of Calcutta University 1857. Left Calcutta for England in Apr 1858, arriving 1 May. Left England for Calcutta 7 Sep 1860, arriving with his family 20 Dec 1860. On their return Mrs Mullens took up zenana teaching in the homes of Hindu ladies, but died in Calcutta in 1861. In 1865 Mullens was invited to return to England to work with the mission’s Foreign Secretaryship. Before returning home, however, he made a tour of mission stations in South India and China, arriving in England on 22 Apr 1866. In 1868 he was appointed Foreign Secretary of the mission. In 1870 he visited the United States and Canada and in 1873 he was sent on a mission to Madagascar, returning to London on 22 Sep 1874. In 1879 he volunteered to accompany the reinforcements being sent to join the Central African Mission. Arriving at Zanzibar 27 May 1879, but died on the way to Ujiji at Chakombe, 29 miles east of Mpwapwa on 10 Jul 1879. He is buried in the C.M.S. cemetery at Mpwapwa.[1]
Author: Vedantism, Brahmism, and Christianity (Prize essay, Calcutta, 1852), Revised Statistics of the Missions in India and Ceylon (Calcutta, 1852), Missions in South India (London, 1854), Results of Missionary Labour in India (London, 1856), Religious Aspects of Hindoo Philosophy (London, 1860), Memorials of the Rev. A.F. Lacroix (London, 1862), Statistical Tables of Missions in India, Ceylon, and Burmah (London, 1863), Ten Years’ Missionary Labour in India (London, 1863), London and Calcutta (London, 1868), Twelve Months in Madagascar (London, 1875).
Photographic: Active in Calcutta in mid-1850s. Read a paper On the applications of photography in India to a meeting of the Photographic Society of Bengal, 29 Oct 1856.[2] Five views from calotype negatives, of Calcutta and Bhowanipore, shown at the Photographic Society of Bengal Exhibition of March 1857. 

  1. Λ Biographical details from James Sibree, A Register of Missionaries, Deputations, etc from 1796 to 1923 (London, 1923), Register no. 459, p. 57. See also the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography
  2. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, no.2, 21 Jan 1857. 

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