The Wide Far Eastern Sea, or, Russo-Japanese War materials from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

On this day in 1904, the Baltic fleet of Czar Nicholas II engaged the Japanese navy in the Tsushima Strait. Over the course of a two day naval battle, Russian Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky would lose more than 30 of the 45 Russian warships to the Japanese naval force under the command of Admiral Heihachiro Togo. With the exception of one or two items in the Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection and a children’s propaganda book lauding the Japanese admiral, The Wolfsonian-FIU library held very few rare books on the subject of the Russo-Japanese war.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Pamela K. Harer

That gap was rectified when long-term supporter Frederic A. Sharf donated a great deal of his private collection dealing with the rise of the Japanese Empire to the museum library. To provide our readers with a taste of that material, I have asked Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn to contribute a post on the subject. Here is her report.

Here on Washington Avenue, the onset of Memorial Day becomes a mass of sidewalk obstacles and street closures implemented for Urban Beach Weekend.

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Photograph by the author.

In fact, Americans all over the country honor their military servicemen with celebrations punctuated by food, drink, and music.

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Photograph by the author

Our Chief Librarian took a peek back in time to see what war related historical milestones occurred on this Friday before the holiday. We discovered that around the globe, one hundred and eleven years ago today, an epic naval clash took place: The Battle of Tsushima Strait. The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU Library is rich in period Russo-Japanese War rare books concerning this and other pivotal naval campaigns, replete with images of strife at sea.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Imperial Russia wished to secure key strategic ports for trade and maneuverability in the Far East, but Japan made sure Russia’s battleships and naval officers suffered.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Bennett Burleigh, war correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph, authored Empire of the East, a 1905 British book about the war. This frontispiece shows the faces behind the action.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

The renowned photojournalist James Hare edited this New York imprint, which includes maps, illustrations, commentary and photographs.

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Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Reporter Lionel James, driven to hyperbole and writing using racist stereotypes, declared that his novel was inspired by events he witnessed (and thus needed to remain anonymous for his own protection).

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Western fascination with the Russo-Japanese War even spawned novels of mystery and romance. Publishers’ bindings enticed with Eastern inspired motifs.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

In this 1905 fictional sea adventure, the protagonist is an unflappable British man named Bob who is unwittingly thrust into the violent Japanese and Russian naval battles.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

 Prolific American writer Willis Boyd Allen, whose pieces often appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s, and Harper’s, put an American spin on fictional sea stories with his timely novel, The North Pacific.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Impressive historical texts also flooded the publishing market. Cassell’s History of the Russo-Japanese War was joint produced in London and New York in 1905.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

With Togo describes the Russo-Japanese War from the perspective of a military man.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Admiral Togo’s torpedo boat destroyers effectively annihilated the Russian naval forces in the Battle of Tsushima Strait. For more exciting forays into the Russo-Japanese War, explore the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at The Wolfsonian-FIU Library.

~ by "The Chief" on May 27, 2016.

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