Friday, August 12, 2016

The Undiscovered Exhibit

Poster of Shackleton ExhibitThis past spring, fifty-one Dartmouth students in Ross Virginia’s Spring 2016 “Pole to Pole” class shared their research to produce an exhibit at Rauner Special Collections Library exploring the British polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and the Antarctica of his time. The exhibit, a learning collaboration with our staff, is installed in the Class of 1965 Galleries exhibit space here in Webster Hall from June 28th until September 2nd. Because of the quantity of excellent materials and insights that the students provided, it wasn't possible to include them all in the physical exhibit. Instead, over the next three Fridays, we will be posting the exhibits that weren't. We'll include images and ideas that were submitted by the students but that ultimately didn't make the cut for one reason or another.

Events of the Month Page from South Polar Times, with illustrations of a penguin and the British flag.The 1901-04 British National Arctic Expedition, later known as the Discovery expedition because of the name of the research vessel, was the first major Antarctic expedition in which Shackleton participated. One approach taken by the students was to focus on the printed materials related to the voyage and the perspective they provided about the expedition. For example, Shackleton was in charge of entertainment and morale aboard ship, and was the editor of a regularly issued newspaper that was printed and distributed while the crew were in winter quarters. The newspaper contained an Events of the Month page as well as humorous and original works of prose and poetry, such as the "Observations" poem, which mocked the lofty expedition objectives handed down from the Royal Geographic Society.

South Polar Times article about the Southern Sledge Journey, along with an image of a sled dogHowever, the paper also related the details of various exploratory journeys and scientific endeavors that were undertaken while on the ice, such as the harrowing southern sledge journey that ultimately resulted in Shackleton's departure from the expedition due to poor health. Scott's decision to pursue the scientific and exploratory goals of the mission often came at the expense of his crew's health, and Shackleton's decision on a later expedition to prioritize the lives of his men over the goals of the expedition was doubtless influenced by his experience under Scott's command.

Title Page of the Antarctic Manual
Other publications, both before and after the actual expedition, describe the preparatory work that was done for the journey. To this end, the efforts and support of the Royal Geographic Society, led by Sir Clement Markham, were of special notice. Markham spearheaded the creation of The Antarctic Manual in 1901, meant to prepare the officers and crew of the Discovery for what lay ahead. The RGS did more than ready the explorers before the trip; it also contributed funds to rescue them once the Discovery became trapped in the ice. A later publication, Albert Armitage's Two Years in the Antarctic, describes the process by which food rations were decided upon by Dr. Reginal Koettlitz, the expedition's primary physician. The list provides for three years with the intention of "procuring as great a variety of foods as possible."

All of these texts provide a valuable perspective on the Discovery expedition; although we were not able to include them in the final physical exhibit, they expose a further, valuable layer of complexity to the events and circumstances surrounding the voyage.
Material selection and exhibit conceptualization by Amelia Ali '19, Lauren D'Amico '19, Madison DeRose '18, Charlotte Gross '16, Evan Read '16, Juliana Wheaton '19, and Maya Wilcher '16.

To see The South Polar Times, ask for Stefansson G850 1901.D7 v.1-2.
For The Antarctic Manual, see Stefansson G680 .R8.
For Armitage's Two Years in the Antarctic, look at Stefansson G850 1901 .D62.

To learn more about the physical exhibit, including its contents and accompanying labels, visit the exhibits page.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Dartmouth Bubble

Front page of Dartmouth Log, August 10, 1945Students frequently complain about the Dartmouth Bubble, as they should. Sometimes the place is just a little too insular, and events of the world are merely background chatter washed over by the latest campus event. It is something students, staff and faculty have been fighting for well over a century.

The anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought us to the wartime version of The D, The Dartmouth Log. It was a weekly at the time, so the first issue after Hiroshima was August 10th. There is a substantial article on the front page authored by Professor Gordon Hull explaining the physics behind the blast, but it is overshadowed by a headline about the College being accused of anti-Semitism. A classic example of the local story beating out world news.

This did not go unnoticed by the editorial staff. Under the headline "The Pace that Kills," the editors say:
We looked hard for effects of the Atom bomb on the College and the town, but without too much success. We should have known that it take something a little bigger than a world-shaking invention to get a rise out of New England and its "unreconstructed American primitive" natives. Work, or the summer lethargy that is its reasonable facsimile, went on as usual, and aside from the technical discussions around the Navy quarters, all we heard was the occasional 'I'm dreaming of an honorable Discharge' with a not too enthusiastic parody to back it up.
The editors went on to note that everyone was talking about how the rain had canceled morning calisthenics three days running.

Editorial in Dartmouth Log, August 10, 1945
The Dartmouth Log is fascinating reading, not just to see how much campus changed during the war years, but also to see how much it stayed the same. You can find it on our open reference shelves in the Reading Room.