MIAMI ICE: SOME COOL IMAGES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY
This past week, I have been cataloging and providing metadata links to a number of rare library materials that I intend to include in a future library exhibit. This display will document the historic transatlantic flight of a squadron of Italian seaplanes led by Italo Balbo. Flying from Rome to Chicago, the fliers stopped en route in Iceland before reaching their destination amidst the city’s celebration of the Century of Progress International Exhibition in 1933. I was especially taken by one particular vintage postcard, with its image of the seaplanes flying over towering icebergs en route to the Windy City’s world’s fair.
Primed to see more images of icebergs, a couple of nights ago I watched Chasing Ice, an award-winning documentary film about scientist and nature photographer James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey he founded in 2007. Although initially skeptical of the idea that human beings were having an impact on climate change, his photography assignments in Arctic regions changed his mind. Eschewing the scientific statistical studies that confuse rather than clarify the issue, Balog and his EIS team set up stationary cameras in Iceland, Greenland, and Alaska to document with time-lapse photography the pace at which millennial-old glaciers were receding over a three-year period.
What his study found was chilling: the glaciers EIS were capturing digitally were disappearing and retreating at alarmingly more rapid rates than scientific modeling had predicted. His team made news some time ago when they captured on video the largest recorded glacier “calving”—when a block of ice the size of Manhattan broke off and fell into the sea.
While it may seem strange to be talking about icebergs and glaciers in the midst of the summer heat of Miami, these seemingly faraway places and events will have an inescapable impact on the “Magic City” and South Florida. As was recently noted in a local broadcast of National Public Radio, Miami is the most vulnerable urban metropolitan city in the world in terms of sea level rise.
The visual beauty of Balog’s glacier photography immediately reminded me of some other materials in The Wolfsonian-FIU library collection as well.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF JAMES BALOG EXTREMEICESURVEY.ORG
More than one hundred years ago, landscape photographer William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) traveled across North America, often in the hire of railroad companies wishing to promote their scenic routes. A number of his photographic images (printed by the Detroit Photographic Company) also capture the beauty of glaciers.
Crevasse Formation in Illecillewaet Glacier, Selkirk Mountains. BC, 
GIFT OF HOWARD GOTTLIEB
The library also possesses a copy of a couple of illustrated children’s books with images of Snow, Glaciers and Icebergs. The first title is a small book in the Children’s Science Series compiled and written by the Federal Writers’ Project, Work Projects Administration in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and published in 1939.
We also hold a copy of Clara (Breakey) Lambert’s The Story of Alaska, a children’s book published in 1940 with illustrations by Cornelius Hough De Witt (1905-?). De Witt’s illustrations include beautiful images of the aurora borealis and glacial “calving.”
Given our location in the “Cruise Capital of the World,” it is only natural that The Wolfsonian library’s holdings are particularly rich in ocean liner promotional materials. I have included some images from a few of these brochures intended to entice tourists into Arctic regions to see such sights as these: