Travel Series: The Americas

This post was written by Tiffany Kajer Wright. “I am a grad student in the English department’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric program. If I’m not cooking, I’m probably watching a historical documentary on Netflix. I also love traveling with my husband – I’ve been to 19 countries and counting. I’m brand new to the SCRC, but I look forward to contributing more blogs in the future!”

This post is the first in a series of blogs coordinated with our Around the World in (Almost) 80 Days exhibit. We’re highlighting some of our collections and books that focus on travel and can be accessed here at the Special Collections Research Center. In this article, we’re taking a look at North and South America.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see far-flung parts of the world? Two of our collections can take you virtually anywhere. The first is the extensive Edith McChesney Ker collection of slides, scrapbooks, and other documents covering her global adventures. The second is the largely insect-focused Kjell Sandved collection, of Butterfly Alphabet fame. Both photographers are notable for capturing animal and plant life, as well as striking landscapes.

Reviewing these collections can bring the distant and exotic corners of the planet a little closer to home. This is especially true for areas of the world that are difficult to access, such as Easter Island or Angel Falls. Other places, like the Galapagos Islands or Nova Scotia, have well-traveled routes but are no less fascinating. We’ll begin this week’s journey with Easter Island.

“Easter Island-Ahu Nau Nau”, Edith McChesney Ker papers, #C0077, Box 12, Page 28, Image 4, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

The six stand in silent judgement, backs to the ocean. Their eyes are gone, but most still have their topknots. One is missing his head, and only the base remains for another. They are the Anakena Moai of Rapa Nui – Easter Island, to those outside of the South Pacific. Since 1888, it’s been a territory of Chile, and the mystery surrounding the immense statues has attracted travelers since the island was discovered. More than 800 Moai can be found on the island today, and most are easily accessible to the 80,000 tourists that stop by every year.

 

“Waterfalls: Amgel Falls World’s Highest Venezuela,” in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Box 4, Page 24, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Water tumbles over the edge of a cliff nearly three-quarters of a mile high, often shrouded by clouds. Toward the bottom, the water dissipates into a fine mist before converging into the Rio Kerepacupai Meru. This is Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, and it sits deep in the Venezuelan jungle. Named after American pilot Jimmie Angel, the first to fly over it in 1933, the falls draw visitors from all over the world each year.

“Fernandina Marine Iguanas and Bluefoots”, Edith McChesney Ker papers, #C0077, Box 13, Page 06, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Home to some of the most specialized wildlife in the world, the Galapagos Islands have been the location for numerous scientific surveys for centuries. When a young geologist called Charles Darwin visited in 1835, he was so inspired by the variations of birds and other animals that he wrote On the Origin of Species. Scientists and researchers continue to visit this volcanic archipelago to better understand our planet’s history and evolution. Ecuador governs the islands today and has declared them a national park, drawing over 220,000 tourists per year.

 

“Peggy’s Cover Near Halifax Nova Scotia” in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Box 4, Page 22, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Nova Scotia is a breathtaking province, with Bay of Fundy and its extreme tides on one side and the battering North Atlantic on the other. Fishermen have done very well in this part of Canada for centuries, though not without cost. More than 5,000 shipwrecks are documented in the region. Despite this historical precedent, well over 2 million tourists visit Nova Scotia each year, with the percentage of Americans steadily increasing.

Sources:

Easter Island History

Island Heritage

Easter Island Tourism

Angel Falls History

Galapagos History

Galapagos Tourism

Nova Scotia History

Nova Scotia Tourism

Our exhibition will be up until mid-August. Stop by anytime to view our materials on display. Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Earth Laughs in Flowers

“Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough but cannot steer their feet
Clear of the grave.” – “Hamatreya” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This post was written by Khalid Tamimi, Research Services Student Assistant and undergraduate in marketing. 

“Cannaceae: Canna generalis Equador,” Box 1, Page 11, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Special Collections Research Center holds a myriad of materials that cover the flourishing world of Botany. This includes photograph collections, like the one by Kjell B. Sandved, or books like Histoire des plantes vénéneuses et suspectes de la France (The history of venomous and suspicious plants of France), Temple of Flora, and many more that we have in our catalog.

 

 

 

 

Kjell B. Sandved, Norwegian nature photographer, spent his life traveling across our green planet and capturing its versatility and beauty one frame at a time. His images capture so much detail that a mere glimpse is enough to slow down ones perception of time and get lost in a lifeless image that portrays the very essence of life itself.

 

“Bougainvillea glabra, Hawaii,” Box 1, Page 7, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

As one peruses over the breathtaking photographs you can’t help but envy those who have dedicated their lives to the study and observation of nature’s finest. We as a species seem to be obsessed with beauty yet we tend to forget the ever-blooming beauty that Mother Nature is.

 

 

 

 

“Grevilla Banksii Kahili flower. Queensland Australia,” Box 1, Page 12, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

Flowers are a great reminder that standing out and being different warrant celebration rather than scrutiny. As social creatures, we fixate on assimilation and  yet we often forget that beauty almost always lies in uniqueness. At first glimpse do you notice the single flower? Or the identical leaflets on either side?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses et Suspectes de la France contains over 100 plant species which vary in beauty but are all poisonous. This 1798 book provides information on each plant, though written in French, describing the parts of each plant and other useful facts. L’Hellebore noir is a beautiful flower that can be found across France; also known as the Christmas rose or Helleborus Niger. Despite its misleading name this plant does not belong to the rose family rather is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family. Despite its aesthetic charm, this flower is actually poisonous. Touching or being near this plant can cause the burning of the eyes, mouth, and throat, coughing, and in some cases, oral ulcerations. This may be Mother Nature’s subtle reminder that just because something appears beautiful does not mean that it is harmless or good.

“L’Hellebore noir,” Bulliard, Pierre, Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses et Suspectes de la France, QK100.F7 B85 1798, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

 

“Tulips,” Thornton, Robert John, Thorton’s Temple of Flora, QK98 .T5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Written in 1951, this oversize edition of Thorton’s Temple of Flora (originally Thorton published some editions in the late 18th century and early 19th century) has large, beautiful illustration of flowers, most of which are in color. The text within the book describes Thorton’s life, interests in botany and his relationship with the Darwin family. Exploring these illustrations, one can learn vital life lessons from natures finest. Not only should we all take the time to appreciate the intricacies of the natural world that we live in. Similarly, we can learn a lot about ourselves and how we coexist with other living things in this world. We can coincide peacefully together, regardless of the differences in the colors of our petals, their origins, or which way we choose to face the sun.

“The Dragon Arum,” Thornton, Robert John, Thorton’s Temple of Flora, QK98 .T5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

 

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Celebrate National Moth Week with SCRC

The late Kjell Sandved, born in Norway in 1922, was a noted nature photographer who took pictures of various insects, including moths, from all over the world. Sandved is best known for finding and photographing various shapes and patterns on butterflies and moths, including every letter of the English alphabet, smiling faces, red hearts, and animal shapes. A member of the staff of the Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History, Sandved published two encyclopedias: The World of Music and The World of Art, and co-authored nine other works, including: Butterfly Magic, Insect Magic, and Spiders in the Smithsonian. He passed away on December 20, 2015.

To celebrate National Moth Week (July 23, 2016 – July 31, 2016), we are featuring some photographs that were donated to Special Collections Research Center by Kjell Sandved. 

"Dog figure on silkworm moth," Box 4, Page 12, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Dog figure on silkworm moth, Rhodesia” Box 4, Page 12, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Speiredonia Sp. Moth 'Face',"Box 4, Page 12, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Speiredonia Sp. Moth ‘Face’, Sabah”Box 4, Page 11, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Problepsis, new sp. moth 'bug design',"Box 4, Page 12, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Problepsis, new sp. moth ‘bug design’, Malaya”Box 4, Page 10, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Plutodes discigera moth, Malaya" Box 4, Page 12, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Plutodes discigera moth, Malaya” Box 4, Page 10, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Eucereon confusum moth, Manaus, Amazon" Box 4, Page 9, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Eucereon confusum moth, Manaus, Amazon” Box 4, Page 9, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Cosmosoma metallescens moth, Manaus, Amazon" Box 4, Page 9, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Cosmosoma metallescens moth, Manaus, Amazon” Box 4, Page 9, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"'Warning behavior' repellant fluid from glands, Tiger Moth, Peru" Box 4, Page 8, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“‘Warning behavior’ repellant fluid from glands, Tiger Moth, Peru” Box 4, Page 8, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Azatrephes discalis, Tiger Moth, Manaus, Amazon" Box 4, Page 8, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Azatrephes discalis, Tiger Moth, Manaus, Amazon” Box 4, Page 8, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

"Oospila sp. moth, Manaus, Amazon" Box 4, Page 8, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Oospila sp. moth, Manaus, Amazon” Box 4, Page 8, in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Copyright held by Kjell Sandved.

For more information about Moth Week and how to celebrate, visit:

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/national-moth-week.xml 

http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/national-moth-week

The collection:

The finding aid for Kjell Sandved includes biographical information and a content list for the materials we hold. Additionally it can be found by going to sca.gmu.edu and searching for Kjell Sandved. Anyone can make an appointment to look through the collection by contacting speccoll@gmu.edu. 

The Kjell Sandved estate retains copyright for these photographs.

Happy Winter!

Edith McChesney Ker, often referred to as Edie, was an avid photographer of wildlife and nature.  She dedicated her life to traveling around the world taking photos and writing journal entries about her experiences. In the course of her career, Ker participated in more than 70 professional photographic camping safaris in Africa, including expeditions with primatologist Jane Goodall. She also served as president of the Society of Woman Geographers from 1997 to 1999. Born in 1924, she died in 2003. GMU is home to the Edith McChesney Ker collection.

Both of the images below are from her trip to Churchill, Manitoba in 1985.

Edith took many photos of polar bears during this trip.

Edith McChesney Ker, 1985