Around the World at the Wolfsonian-FIU Library

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Dr. Nicolae Harsanyi and Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Yesterday, Florida International University professor Gail Hollander arrived with ten Global & Sociocultural Studies graduate students for  an introduction to and orientation about The Wolfsonian-FIU rare book and special collections library. The social science students are versed in geography, anthropology, and sociology and interested in a variety of interdisciplinary topics dealing with nationalism, modernization, the social production of urban space, and race, gender, class, and ethnic identities. In preparation for their visit, we pulled for their perusal a variety of visual materials ranging from geographic and cartographic representations of the peoples and resources of the Pacific from the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco; rare books dealing with city planning, garden city movements, and urbanization issues; New Deal era tracts with graphic statistics showing the residential breakdown of Houston and other U.S. cities in terms of poverty and race; British colonial photograph albums, and other rare primary source materials. Here is a report from Dr. Harsanyi: 

The professor and visiting graduate students had the opportunity to view various historical and economic maps of various continents and regions of the world. Two spectacular maps reproducing the murals realized by the Mexican artists Miguel Covarrubias for the San Francisco 1939 Pacific Exhibition present the distribution of major ethnic groups inhabiting the shores of the Pacific Ocean as well as the economic resources of their countries.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Colonial powers made efforts to draw up accurate maps of the territories they held.  Here are two maps dating from the end of the nineteenth century about South Africa.  The first one, taken from a Portuguese statistical album published in 1903, deals with the railroad network built in the area, while the second one, dating from 1891, shows the British colonies on the southern part of the continent.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

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

Sometimes maps prove to be useful propaganda tools. When transformed into games, they are effective in shaping the mind of the players, most often children, and in inculcating certain ideological messages.  A set of two-sided puzzles presents the map of historic Hungary as it has been dismembered after the First World War, its neighboring states acquiring significant parts of its territory.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

A board game from the 1930’s Italy presents Rome as the center of the Mediterranean world thanks to the development of a network of air lines and other means of transportation.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

On display for the students were different statistics that acquainted them with how eloquent their graphic representation can be.  The Soviet propaganda-machine made extensive use of such innovative pictographic representations to promote the notion of progress that the new regime was supposed to promote along with its societal and economic growth. The first image tellingly suggests the how industrial growth brings about an increase in the number of proletariat, while the second image compares agricultural production in the USSR and Europe.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The students also saw several plates from Otto Neurath’s portfolio of statistical data, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft, published in Vienna in 1930.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

 What follows is Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle T. Pienn’s observations on her interaction with one of the graduate student visitors:

One of the doctoral students in FIU’s Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies who attended the library presentation researches the history of homelessness and labor in Asia and the British Empire. The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection contains primary resource material and rare books documenting the use of “coolie” workers. Natives providing unskilled manual labor or doing physical tasks in China and India were often referred to under the indiscriminately racist and blanket term of “coolies.”

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

This antique albumen print taken by Tosco Peppe is one of many beautiful ethnographic portraits of indigenous people in an original photograph album of Burma, the Andaman Islands, Japan and Australia compiled by Augustus John Lavie. Lavie served in the Royal (Madras) Artillery in 1860, and retired as Lieutenant-Colonel in 1888.

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

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

This early 20th century photograph album documents an official visit to India by an executive from the London office of the Church Missionary Society. His goal was to inspect progress in Peshawar, Amritsar, Mussoorie, Simla, and Lahore—for which he had help from coolie labor.

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

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

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

Images from this 1886 photograph album were put together by H. W. Benson during his peacetime service with the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment of Great Britain. The company surveyed the Northwest passage of India. This particular expedition brought Benson and his battalion into Kashmir, Ladakh and beyond to the shores of Lake Pagong in Tibet.

~ by "The Chief" on September 20, 2016.

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