December 6, 2011

Ekaterinoslav Province

This card is one of a souvenir set of 82 illustrated cards–one for each province of the Russian Empire as it existed in 1856. Each card presents an overview of a particular province’s culture, history, economy, and geography. The front of the card depicts such distinguishing features as rivers, mountains, major cities, and chief industries. The back of each card contains a map of the province, the provincial seal, information about the population, and a picture of the local costume of the inhabitants. Ekaterinoslav Province depicted on this card is in present-day Ukraine.

Economic Map of Yakutsk Oblast

This Soviet-era economic map of the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is from an atlas, Yakutia ASSR: Atlas, Socialist Yakutia. It shows six different economic regions in this vast region of Siberia. Depicted on the map are centers for the production of machinery, electricity, and foodstuffs, and for extractive industries producing coal, natural gas, gold, mica, salt, building materials, and diamonds. The development of the mining industry in Yakutia, which started in the 1960s, brought an influx of migrants from European Russia and the other Slavic republics of the Soviet Union, and a change in the ethnic composition of the population. The proportion of Yakuts in the overall population of the republic dropped from 90 percent in 1920 to 43 percent in 1970, 36.6 percent in 1979, and 33.4 percent in 1989. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, however, the republic experienced a strong outward migration of Slavs and a reversal of these trends. In 1990, Yakutia changed its name to the Republic of Sakha.

Emigrants [i.e. Immigrants] Landing at Ellis Island

Ellis Island was the gateway to American life for millions of immigrants from 1892 to 1954. This film, shot by prolific filmmaker, writer, producer, and director Alfred C. Abadie, was a production of Thomas A. Edison’s Edison Manufacturing Company. It was listed in a contemporary company catalog under the title “Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island” with the description: “Shows a large open barge loaded with people of every nationality, who have just arrived from Europe, disembarking at Ellis Island, N.Y.” The film opens with a view of the ferryboat William Myers, laden with passengers, approaching the immigration station. The vessel is docked, the gangway is placed, and the passengers are seen coming up the gangway. The film does not show the next stage of the immigration process facing the new arrivals. Entrants were interrogated–often by officials who could not speak their language–and given medical examinations. Many were quarantined or denied entrance after being labeled as diseased or “likely to become a public charge.”

Imitating Roman Fights

The Thereza Christina Maria Collection consists of 21,742 photographs assembled by Emperor Pedro II and left by him to the National Library of Brazil. The collection covers a vast range of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and the Brazilian people in the 19th century, as well as includes many photographs from Europe, Africa, and North America. This photograph of three Brazilian men imitating Roman fighters was taken in Ceará, some time between 1898 and 1909, by the photographer Miguel de Moura, about whom very little is known.

Enisei Province

This card is one of a souvenir set of 82 illustrated cards–one for each province of the Russian Empire as it existed in 1856. Each card presents an overview of a particular province’s culture, history, economy, and geography. The front of the card depicts such distinguishing features as rivers, mountains, major cities, and chief industries. The back of each card contains a map of the province, the provincial seal, information about the population, and a picture of the local costume of the inhabitants.

The Lower Sorbian Testament of Miklawuš Jakubica, 1548

This 669-page manuscript contains the complete translation of the New Testament into Lower Sorbian by Pastor Miklawus Jakubica. It is one of the most important cultural documents relating to the Sorbian people of eastern Germany and an important source for the study of the West Slavic languages. Completed in 1548, Jakubica’s translation, which includes many colorful illustrations of flowers, trees, and animals, has never been printed. As the groundwork for his translation, Jakubica used Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German, as well as the Latin Vulgate and Czech templates. The work is in fact the very first translation of Luther’s Bible into another language. Jakubica used the dialect of Sorau, a town south of Brandenburg, and drew upon words in Czech and Upper Sorbian in his attempt to create a common church written language for all Sorbs. Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian are West Slavic languages, related to Polish and Czech, which are spoken by the Sorbs, a recognized minority people of Germany.