January 3, 2012

A Chart of Part of the Sea Coast of New South Wales on the East Coast of New Holland from Black Head to Cape Morton

This map is one of four manuscript charts from the first great voyage of exploration by Captain James Cook, which in April 1770 made the first clear delineation of the east coast of Australia. Sponsored by the Royal Society and the Royal Navy, the expedition had several objectives. Cook was to observe and describe the transit of Venus, chart the coastlines of places he visited in the South Pacific, and record details of the peoples, flora, and fauna he saw. The expedition sponsors also hoped Cook would find and claim for Britain the land then known as terra incognita australis. Cook did not sail close to shore, except in a few places, so the amount of detail shown in the map varied with his ship’s distance from the coast.

Polotsk. Monument to the War of 1812, on the Square near Nikolaevskii Cathedral

In 1911 and 1912, in connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed areas along the invasion route. Among them was the Vitebsk region, including Polotsk, first mentioned in medieval sources for the year 862. Located at the confluence of the Polota River with the Daugava (also known as the Western Dvina), Polotsk was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the late 18th century as a result of the Partition of Poland. The town witnessed battles in August and October 1812. The victory over Napoleon was commemorated at various Russian battle sites through a series of iron monuments commissioned by Tsar Nicholas I in 1835 and designed by the Saint Petersburg architect Antonio Adamini. Seen here is the Polotsk monument (24 meters high), begun in 1847 on a square in front of the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas and dedicated in 1850. Crowned with an onion dome and cross, it closely resembled a monument dedicated in Smolensk in 1841. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

January 4, 2012

The Province of Burma; A Report Prepared on Behalf of the University of Chicago

Alleyne Ireland (1871–1951) was a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society in London who, in 1901, was appointed by the University of Chicago to head a commission to study colonial administration in the Far East. Ireland’s first major project, published in 1907, was this exhaustive, two-volume study of Burma, at the time under British rule as a province of the Indian Empire. Volume one contains a general description of Burma, a history of Britain’s acquisition of the colony, and chapters on the people, government, general administration, civil service, police administration, judicial administration, prison administration, and educational system. Volume two is devoted to economic and administrative affairs, including financial administration, the land revenue system, public works, trade and shipping, and the administration of forests, towns, villages, and harbors. Twenty-one appendices provide additional detail, including economic and demographic statistics, the texts of treaties, agreements, and reports, a bibliography, and a glossary of Indian and Burmese words. At the end of volume one is a large foldout map of Burma by Edinburgh mapmakers John Bartholomew & Co.

The Colonization of Indochina

La colonisation de l’Indo-Chine: L’Expérience anglaise (The colonization of Indochina: the English experience) is an 1892 case study of the British colonial experience in Asia and its lessons for France in the administration of French Indochina (present-day Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). The author, influential French essayist and colonial theorist Joseph Chailley-Bert (1854–1928), was a passionate advocate of reforming France’s colonization practices and governing strategies, which he argued were deficient in both design and execution, and of the need to draw upon the successful experiences of the British and other colonial powers. Part one the book is devoted to the British colony of Hong Kong, with chapters covering the initial penetration and occupation, economic development, and methods of governance and administration. Part two is devoted to the colony of Burma and contains chapters on the same general topics. Chailley-Bert concluded that colonial success was dependent on “good colonists, good laws, and good administrators.” His work proved to have great influence on French colonial policy.

January 5, 2012

Ascension-Trinity Monastery, Church of the Ascension (1704), Southeast View, Solikamsk, Russia

This southeast view of the Church of the Trinity (formerly Ascension) at the Ascension-Trinity Monastery in Solikamsk was taken in 2000 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Founded around 1430 on the middle reaches of the Kama River, Solikamsk is among the oldest Russian settlements in the Ural Mountains. Its wealth was based on salt (hence the first part of its name) and other minerals. The Ascension Monastery was founded circa 1590 by tradesmen and free peasants. Its buildings were made of wood until the construction of the Ascension Church in 1698-1704. Its one cupola and simple roof surmount a whitewashed brick structure that is among the town's most richly decorated, with elaborate window surrounds as well as arches supported by a large frieze. Other components, including a low refectory on the west and the Annunciation Chapel at the south façade (both visible here), create a picturesque ensemble. The Ascension Monastery was closed in 1764 as part of the reorganization of monasteries under Catherine the Great. After a complex transitional period, it was rededicated as the Ascension-Trinity Monastery at the end of the 18th century. The change of name also applied to the main church.

January 11, 2012

Fiesta Dance Chichamaya in Zulia

This photograph shows indigenous people in the state of Zulia, Venezuela, performing a traditional dance. The northwestern part of Zulia is inhabited by the Guajiro Indians, the largest indigenous group in Venezuela. The photograph is from the collection of the Columbus Memorial Library of the Organization of American States (OAS), which includes 45,000 photographs illustrative of life and culture in the Americas. Many of the photographs were taken by prominent photographers on OAS missions to member countries. The OAS was established in April 1948 when 21 countries of the western hemisphere adopted the OAS Charter, in which they reaffirmed their commitment to the pursuit of common goals and respect for each other’s sovereignty. Since then, the OAS has expanded to include the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean as well as Canada. The predecessor organization to the OAS was the Pan American Union, founded in 1910, which in turn grew out of the International Union of American Republics, established at the First International Conference of American States in 1889-90.