January 20, 2012

The Wonderful Story of Uganda. To Which is Added the Story of Ham Mukasa, Told by Himself

The Wonderful Story of Uganda by the Reverend Joseph Dennis (J.D.) Mullins is an account of the mission to Uganda undertaken in the 1870s by the London-based Church Missionary Society (CMS) and the spread of Christianity in Uganda in the following decades. Mullins characterized the mission as “a Christian miracle of modern days. A nation situated in Central Africa, which twenty-five years ago had not received the Gospel, and had not even a written language, is to-day the home of thirty thousand Christians under Christian chiefs; its language has been reduced to writing; the whole Bible translated…..” Mullins’s work includes portraits of the native peoples, particularly the Baganda, and their social and cultural customs as seen from the perspective of the English missionaries. It recounts the persecution of Christians in the Buganda kingdom under the reign of Kabaka [King] Mwanga (1868-1903), the son and successor of Kabaka Mutesa I (1837-84). The last part of the work is an autobiography of Ham Mukasa (1868-1956). Ham Mukasa was a page of Mutesa who converted to Christianity, was educated by a member of the Uganda mission, Alexander MacKay (1849-90), and went on to become an important figure in his own right. He served as the secretary to the Ugandan politician and ethnographer Apolo Kagwa (1864-1927) and made many important contributions to the development of Uganda.

A Light Note on the Science of Writing and Inks

This manuscript in 20 folios contains two works. The first is a treatise by Muḥammad ibn ʻĪsā al-Ṭanṭāwī on writing tools and the craft of making ink. The work is organized in seven chapters. In the first chapter, the author briefly discusses the best type of reed pens to select for writing. In subsequent chapters, he explains ways to make red, black, and other kinds of ink, including how to write in gold. The treatise was completed on Friday, 1 Rabī‘ II 1268 AH (January 24, 1852). The second work is a short treatise, in approximately 2½ folios, believed to be by Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī al-Bawashī , on the origins, significance, and healing qualities of the Qurʼanic formula known as the basmala.


Metropolis, by director Fritz Lang (1890–1976), is generally regarded as a masterpiece of German Expressionist filmmaking and a forerunner of modern science-fiction movies. The film was shot in 1925–26 at the Babelsberg (Berlin) studios of the leading German film company, Universum Film AG (Ufa), and premiered in Berlin in January 1927. This 1926 art-deco poster by German graphic artist and painter Heinz Schulz-Neudamm (1899–1969) was created for the premiere. Lang’s film, based on the novel of the same name by his wife, Thea von Harbou (1888–1954), depicts an urban dystopia, set in the year 2000, in which a class of managers living in luxurious skyscrapers suppress an underclass of workers who live and work underground. Schulz-Neumann’s poster features a female automaton that figures prominently in the film and plays a role in an elaborate plot to liberate the workers. In the background are seen the skyscrapers in the futuristic city of Metropolis. Only four copies of Schulz-Neudamm’s poster are known to exist, one of which was sold in London in 2005 for a record price of ₤398,000, making it the most expensive poster in the world. This copy from the Austrian National Library is a vintage print without the film’s credits. It is part of the collection “Archive for the History of Film,” established in 1929 at the national library by theater researcher and musicologist Joseph Gregor (1888–1960).

President John F. Kennedy Greets Peace Corps Volunteers, White House, South Lawn

This photograph shows President John F. Kennedy greeting Peace Corps volunteers on the South Lawn of the White House on August 9, 1962. Kennedy first proposed what became the Peace Corps in a speech at the University of Michigan on October 14, 1960, in which he challenged students to give two years of their lives to helping people in countries of the developing world. At the time, Kennedy was a member of the U.S. Senate campaigning for the presidency. Following his election, he signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. This photograph is by Abbie Rowe (1905-67), a photographer for the National Park Service who became an official White House photographer in the Kennedy administration and produced many of the best known pictures of the president and his family.

Basic and Advanced Flying School for Negro Air Corps Cadets, Tuskegee, Alabama: In the center is Captain Roy F. Morse, Air Corps. He is teaching the Cadets how to send and receive code.

The Tuskegee Airmen were African-American soldiers who trained to become pilots at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. The first class of aviation cadets began their training in July 1941 and completed it in March 1942. Tuskegee Airmen went on to serve in combat in North Africa and Italy, and in escorting bombing missions over Germany. This photograph, taken in January 1942, shows cadets at Tuskegee learning how to send and receive code.

Royal Coin, Louis XIII. Ten Louis d'Or

The mechanization of the minting of coins from precious metals in France made possible the creation, in 1640, of the louis d'or, named after King Louis XIII (1601–43; reigned, 1610–43), who first introduced the coins. This series of gold pieces was part of a reform that changed the minting method from hammered coinage to a more precisely milled and weighed coinage. These coins included three types: the louis, the double louis, and the quadruple louis. It has been customary since the 17th century (incorrectly) to call the quadruple louis the double louis, call the double louis the louis, and call the louis the demi-louis. Alongside these common pieces, three larger-unit coins were manufactured in limited amounts: 20 louis, 16 louis, and eight louis pieces (also incorrectly called ten, eight, and four louis coins). The 20 louis piece was worth 100 livres; it is still the largest and heaviest French gold coin ever minted. These pieces were specimens, made to be used as gifts and to demonstrate the abilities of the Paris mint, not put into circulation. They are the work of Jean Varin (1604–72) of Liège, who was at one time master, guard, engraver, and head of the French mint, which was established at the Louvre.