Friday, December 13, 2013

Jungle Islands and Discoveries, circa 1930

Jungle islands; the "Illyria" in the South Seas, by Sidney Nichols Shurcliff; the record of the Crane Pacific Expedition, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois; with a scientific appendix by Karl Patterson Schmidt; ninety illustrations, 2 maps; color plates, drawings, by Walter A. Weber; photographs mostly by the author.

In the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Library collections, there is an unusual book published in 1930. It chronicled the expedition of the ILLYRIA, a brigantine motor yacht sailing from the East Coast of the U.S. to Papua New Guinea, Borneo and the Celebes to gather data and photograph the animals for the Field Museum of Chicago.

The illustration of a Flying Lemur, a kind of primate, was created on Borneo by a member of the expedition. The scientists aboard the ILLYRIA gathered data and drew pictures to characterize the local animals and undersea life they found on each island visited.

A museum of expeditions in natural history is embodied by the Field Museum, located in Chicago, Illinois. Their collections would not have been possible without explorations like those on the ILLYRIA, in 1928-1929.

As far as is generally known, Lussinpiccolo was a bustling and thriving port village with a very big maritime industry until the advent of steam. Wooden ships and yachts built there were suddenly overshadowed by the new means of propulsion which caught everyone’s attention, all but excluding wind-jammers.

The ILLYRIA was 133 ft long x 31 feet wide and had a crew of 15, according to the registers in Merchant Vessels of the United States, 1929. However this differs significantly from author Shurcliff's account which states the overall length to be more than 10 feet longer. The owner was Cornelius Crane, native of Chicago, who had the ship built in Lussinpiccolo, Italy in 1928.

The ILLYRIA was to sail in the wake of two historically revered biologists, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace. Leaving from Boston, the ILLYRIA sailed to Bermuda, to the West Indies, through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean, heading out to the Galapagos Islands, the Marquesas, Tahiti, New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands, New Britain, New Guinea, the Celebes and Borneo before sailing through the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean and then homeward to Boston. The voyage lasted 11 months and covered 32,000 miles.

Crew on the ILLYRIA were constrained by the lack of space aboard, as the expedition was equipped and storage at a minimum, perhaps due to inconsistencies in the naval architectural drawings, the buyer's expectations, and the ship as it was actually built. On page 6 is this description:

"We had boasted that ours was to be the most completely equipped scientific expedition ever to sail the Pacific. We had ... plans to bring an aeroplane with folding wings, two motorcycles and side car, twelve trunks of medicines, several cases of dynamite, three motion picture cameras, 50,000 feet of motion picture film, two diving outfits, a moving picture projector, 25 rifles and shotguns with ammunition, complete apparatus for the capture, preservation and mounting of specimens--and a dog mascot. All very fine, but where to put them?"

Major illustrations in this book are colored, photographs are black and white only. The author of the book was, at the time of the expedition, a well-known landscape architect in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Deep Currents and Rising Tides: The Indian Ocean and International Security. Edited by John Garofano and Andrea J. Dew. Published by Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C., 2013. Index, Notes on Contributors, Chapter Notes, Tables, and Figures append the texts.

Deep Currents and Rising Tides… is an apt title for a part of the world where not only political conflict hangs in anticipatory suspension, but where a 100 year-old American theory has surfaced amid new followers in Asia, specifically China. What people there are reading is known as Mahanian theory.

If you are following current political strategy in Asia, you may recognize the two factions, China and India, as co-existing for the moment in their own camps, either Mahan for China, or the Monroe Doctrine, which has its proponents in India. Remember that the Monroe Doctrine was tested successfully by Prime Minister Nehru, when ousting Portugal from Indian shores in the early 1960s. Deep Currents and Rising Tides discusses obviously contentious scenarios for the two major powers and their regional players. Shown in light of the Indian Ocean Region's unique maritime perspectives, the two philosophies of Mahan and Monroe provide the cultural background for international dispute in the region.

Expressly cited is American author Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914). Mahan wrote several treatises on naval policy and is now a favorite of Chinese scholars and policy-makers who agree with his notions of maritime control. Mahan postulated that “sea power” was based on “commerce, merchant, and naval fleets… and military bases” (see Holmes and Yoshinara in Redlines for Sino-Indian Naval Rivalry, p. 185-209). Indeed "Mahanian" may be a strategy of the new leaders in the region if they are Chinese, although Mahan has long since fallen out of favor with the west.

As Indian perspectives on naval theory and risk are notably closer to the Monroe Doctrine (1823), they are adopted to represent the sovereignty of their borders against the rest of Asia, even if they may also borrow from Mahan to arrive at a balance between developing and retaining control. So authors Holmes and Yoshinara use the term “redlines” to define a threat, real and pervading, that one power presumes where international waterways are concerned (p. 185). And if redlines are encroached on, its defenders are forced to retaliate and would presumably use economic and military means to protect themselves.

Deep Currents and Rising Tides… is composed of twelve chapters divided into three thematic groups; each chapter reviews the theme against a rigorous analysis of the nations' naval histories, events over the past 20 years, and considers current theories, fears and expectations by world powers, especially from the point of view of the west. Thematic parts of the book are labelled thus: Energy, Piracy, Terror, and Access; Emerging Rivalries and Possible Triggers; and Third Powers and the Way Forward. Editors Garofano and Dew compare the treatment by each author, supporting the ongoing dialog about the region, its requirements for growth and how its powers have developed on the international scene.

While in thematic Part I, matters are discussed and weighed that pertain to piracy and terrorism from groups both on the fringe and inside the region, Parts 2 and 3 deal with sovereign nations India and China in Part 2 and the U.S. in Part 3 and their capacities to conduct trade given present dangers associated with political rivalry and predatory action.

Each chapter is written by one or more authorities on the topic and is subtended with notes. Chapter introductions point to prevailing opinions as a basis of comparison, but offer insights based on the precarious position of the emerging powers. Especially pertinent is the rivalry between China and India against the interests of U.S. strategies, trade and energy resources.

A brief biography of each of the 16 writers sketches out their backgrounds, which range from academia to law and diplomacy, strategic military research, China maritime policy, the energy industry, forecasting, institutes for international relations, and security.

See books in the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library online at

  • The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future. / A.T. Mahan
  • The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. / A. T. Mahan.
  • The International Law of the Sea / C. John Colombos.
  • The Law of Admiralty / Grant Gilmore and Charles L. Black.
  • Friday, September 20, 2013

    First Ladies of Scuba Diving

    Lady with a Spear by Eugenie Clark. Published by Harper Brothers Publishers, New York, 1953. Illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

    Author Eugenie Clark has a thrilling story to tell in her memoir, Lady with a Spear, about diving for exotic fish, especially poisonous fish off the coast of California, the West Indies, Hawaii, Guam, the Red Sea and many other global spots for locating exotic creatures underwater. It all started when she was 9 years old on a day at the Marine Aquarium in Battery Park, New York. She also studied the lives and behaviors of sharks. Years later, after spear fishing and then writing scientific papers on distinctive fishes and sharks, her PhD. well in hand, she wrote this memoir. A sense of the international aspect of studying poisonous fish and sharks is obvious in the illustrations, where people from Palau (islands near Indonesia, the Philippines and Micronesia) and the Red Sea spear fish. Her research contributed world-wide to marine biology and oceanography.

    The Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library has also recently received a full run of Historical Diving Society Magazine ( In it appear several articles on women scuba divers, notably Lotte Hass ( and Zale Parry ( who appeared on the TV series Sea Hunt.

    See biographies and memoirs in maritime history in the Library collection online at LibraryThing.

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    Histories Under Shiny New Covers

    Shown above: Transactions, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1899, 1903, 1904; also shown, far right, is A Treatise on Naval Architecture and Shipbuilding... by Richard W. Meade. Published by J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1869.

    Researching the design and construction of ships built over 100 years ago is made a bit easier by consulting the set of publications entitled, "Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers". The illustration below is from volume four, dated 1896. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library has issues beginning at volume one, 1893 and into the late twentieth century. It may be just the right resource if you are studying those early dreadnought ships, hull dimensions, engine features and data, classes of battleships, yachts, policies, or other navigation topics for travel on the oceans or inland waters.

    This illustration at the back of the book is folded and in the physical form shows the entire length of the naval ship and class for the U.S.S. Alabama. A separate book, "Index to Transactions" is available to more clearly pinpoint material pertinent to your search.

    Illustration (folded) from Plate 23, "U.S. Battleships Alabama and Class. Profile Inboard. Scale of Drawing, 1/6 inch = 1 foot." The illustration was prepared for printing by the Norris Peters Co., Photolitho, Washington, D.C.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Fast forward from clay tablets

    Maps & Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society. Third edition. / Norman J.W. Thrower. Published by the University of Chicago Press, 2008. Originally published 1972. 352 pages, illustrated.

    Maps & Civilization, with sample illustrations of maps in each of nine chapters, begins with the first comprehensive diagrams we know of from pre-literate times. Depicting natural phenomena in an organized manner with bent reeds and shells actually spoke volumes to early explorers in canoes who used them: it was the technological communication of the day. The author progresses through history from classical antiquity when visual representation of a place might have been incised onto a rock or clay tablet. At present, information on all levels be it political, private, weather, lunar, event, pictorial, geological, demographic, and other thematic, is exploited to produce a vast array of maps on paper and in digital form.

    This clay tablet was made in ancient times. The image is from a wikipedia article entitled, "Babylonian Map of the World".

    Visual communication systems are possible from innovations in technology, but technology is only half the story. Maps representing evidence of a discovery must be shared at large. Perhaps two poignant recent historical examples would be those maps drawn of the South Pole by Ralph Falcon Scott in 1911 or of Mount Everest in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tensing Sherpa as they climbed the summit.

    The book offers a resource of the many ideas that maps illustrate for the public. The original manuscript was published much before computers were common among map users (1972)--- a fact that doesn’t diminish, but enhances the message delivered by his survey of map-making. Maps, like news articles, proliferate because of existing knowledge in a particular culture. Lately we think first of gps and of the interactive maps online we can easily access. Do you agree that the ideas began on paper? Take a look at the isometric map of New York City crafted by Hermann Bollmann for the World’s Fair a couple of years later in 1964.

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    War and Food Supplies

    Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food / Lizzie (Elizabeth M.) Collingham. Published by Penguin Press, 2012.

    A rare glimpse into the real reasons why the allies were successful in World War II, The Taste of War by Lizzie Collingham is a 500 page testimonial to the hardships brought to countries that might otherwise be competitive with warring nations.

    Lacking food and foodstuffs is not new to populations of people worldwide, no matter where they live and grow or barter for their sustenance. Yet, coupled with the technologies of war and the devastating effects of economic sanctions, the delicate balance maintained by poorer or struggling nations did not sustain them against weaponry and war, at least the first time around.

    But the broad sweep of history on the eve of war also draws from the effects of earlier starvation and disease. Thus contributing to inevitable consequences of economic failure during wartime, the tole of famine has been until this book, much overlooked. Collingham examines each aspect of food production in the major powers and colonial countries, not only for the military but for citizens, for food science and food production. Not much later than WWII, Vietnam experienced famine which cost their population a greater number of casualties than in wars it fought later on. Even if Third World countries are not considered, examples of the type of devastation that signal defeat far in advance of embattlement: Japan, Greece, Germany, the Soviet Union all suffered severe shortages and deprivation for lack of food and harshly diminished supply lines. And drought, a phenomenon of nature occurring randomly, could and did claim the last vestige of plans for recovery in the Soviet Union and other countries on worldwide scale. In the last chapter the author indicates that because abundance through farming methods will not alleviate lack of food worldwide, global famine may result from overproduction of manufactured foods which are really not nutritive to human bodies.

    The book speaks of modern food history within the war years of the twentieth century, and with clarity tells the story from a global perspective. If you look for reviews online, you’ll find this book very popular for the research and careful study made by the author, its readability and comprehensive review of not only large-scale incidents, but also personal accounts. One of the better reviews is on written by James McGlothlin who states, "Extraordinary. I can’t believe I voluntarily read a 500-page economic history, let alone that I remained absorbed from start to finish… it turns out that WW II wasn’t about bad ideas, or at least the bad ideas were secondary…"

    See the on-site exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum, Mess Halls and Ward Rooms, 1880s to 1950s that reveals images from books on feeding sailors and crew members in the U.S. Navy during the time period.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Working for Pay, 70 Years Ago

    Fleeting Opportunities: Women Shipyard Workers in Portland and Vancouver During World War II and Reconversion by Amy Kesselman. Published by State University of New York Press, 1990.

    Fleeting Opportunities is author Kesselman’s treatise on women in the wartime workforce. Her commentary combines both facts and theories found in numerous works on the subject.

    Fleeting Opportunities is concerned with a historical precedent for women. During the spike in industry between 1939 and the early 1950s, women took jobs that required mechanical skills, or replaced men in all sorts of jobs required to meet the production demand of ships for World War II.

    Facts about the female labor force are well documented. As early as 1947, scholars examined the phenomena of women as laborers during World War II, and some even probed the social and psychological consequences that women in the workforce experienced. So in spite of the facts about their new skills, women were seen as the temporary replacements of men in the same jobs. And these new skills did not come without a price: as Kesselman says, “In general the ideology that equated femininity with domesticity was alive and well during the war, reinforcing the sense that domestic work would always remain women’s terrain.” p. 65.

    Engaging in construction and manufacturing, women pitted new skills, job pay and an ability to manage change against the expectations of family and the demands of home life. These new attributes did not wear off easily after the war, as many women had gained a better sense of their abilities, both inside and outside the home. They were not all eager to get back to home and hearth.

    After the War, especially in skilled areas where men were used to having an unfettered range of movement on the promotional ladder, women were exposed to discrimination and unfair practices as the notion of women as homemaker once again trounced their new found independence. There was more than a job and pay at stake, since many had relocated just for the shipyard employment that was previously available. But this created an un-resolvable conflict between men and women workers. After the war there wasn’t enough work for both sexes to occupy the same jobs. Kesselman relates, “Loena Ellis would liked to have been a machinist after the war, but they were not allowing women to retain their status in the machinists union.” p. 111, and another woman, “Betty Cleator, who had worked as a draftsman at the shipyards, would have liked to continue after the war.” However when she’d realized that her job was gone, never to return, she refused to pay further dues to the union, saying, “I’ve paid all the money to this union I’m going to. You can’t get me a job; you can’t even get me references to one.” Also p. 111.

    The book represents scholarship of the latter half of the twentieth century, written in an engaging manner, and supported by notes and an index. The book is illustrated, contains 5 chapters, and has an extensive resources section.

    Wartime Shipyard: A Study in Social Disunity by Katherine Archibald with a New Introduction by Eric Arnesen and Alex Lichtenstein. Published by University of Illinois Press, 2006, c1947, University of California Press.

    Katherine Archibald’s Wartime Shipyard: A Study in Social Disunity deals with human society and change caused by the hiring practices in shipbuilding and manufacturing during World War II. It’s interesting that the wartime shipyard would be the subject of a testimonial on the social upheaval of the times. By now, this classic is well-known as an account of workers’ struggles and their attempts to cope with race, ethnicity and gender issues as they met the demands in industrial jobs for a paycheck.

    The Introduction by Eric Arnesen is complete with a notes section and prepares the current reader for the impact of Archibald’s treatise, which presents a bleak and unrestrained view of the worker and his or her predicament. Setting the scene with the mid-twentieth century worker as someone who had little direct experience in the trades, Archibald describes the worker as one who worked only to check starvation for himself and his family, but without joy. She says, “To him, his job offered little beyond the satisfaction of the fundamental need to survive; it was seldom enjoyed for itself, and it was hardly ever related to the accomplishments of society.” From p. 230. So, without the power to better their lives, workers were committed to the narrow confines of their explicit tasks. And following that, desperation thus fueled conflict as a variety of ethnic and gender issues surfaced in their day to day world.

    The book’s 12 chapters cover all the above worker challenges, supported by a few photographic depictions of workers by Dorothea Lange, then working with the Office of War Information. Many others of her photographs of this period are held by the Oakland Museum in Oakland, California.

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Jeans and Sailors

    The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America by Matthew Taylor Rafferty. Published by University of Chicago Press, 2013.

    Not always was the law at sea well known to landlubbers and the general citizenry. In fact the expectation was that a sailor’s fate was in the hands of his captain, not as we normally believe, in a national law or set of statutes. The Republic Afloat examines maritime law as it developed in the fledgling new country of the United States, in the years following the Revolution and prior to the Civil War--the heyday of merchant shipping from U.S. coastal ports. By capitalizing on three themes, law, honor and citizenship, the author brings new insight to the issues facing sailors and their masters.

    Struggle for identity under the law was less arduous for officers than for sailors, because as Rafferty notes in his Conclusion:

    “The reach of the law turned seamen from wards to citizens, at least in their own eyes…”

    The only image in the book is shown below, evidence of certain emblems of culture at the time: sailors “aloft” representing American manhood combined with the denim icon.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    Labor's Visual Imprint

    In the Spring of 2005, the Los Angeles Maritime Museum opened an exhibit, "At Work: the Art of California Labor". The exhibit featured artworks (Emmy Lou Packard's works among them) from the California Exhibition Resource Alliance (now called "Exhibit Envoy") as well as photographs and paintings from the Museum and from the Harry Bridges Institute in San Pedro, California.

    Emmy Lou Packard, "Carpenter", 1950. Woodcut.

    You can see a re-cap of the exhibit at the Museum's web page for Past Exhibits.

    More recently the work Agitate! Educate! Organize! American Labor Posters by Lincoln Cushing and Timothy W. Drescher was published. Its dedication page bears the inscription:

    "To the artists who created these posters, the working people and unions whose struggles they illustrate, and the poster archives and collections that preserve them".

    Agitate! Educate! Organize! American Labor Posters by Lincoln Cushing and Timothy W. Drescher. Published by ILR Press, an Imprint of Cornell University, Ithaca and London, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8014-7427-9. Alkaline paper.

    It's all here in one spot! Paper-covered, and at 205 pages with multiple images on each page, the book gives textual background for each of its eleven-chapter themes, and thus you can have a comprehensive educative experience in the labor artwork of the twentieth century.

    The confluence of visual media and social consciousness is a hot topic now: we are looking for truth in what our media is capable of conveying. And to celebrate the likelihood that strong and beautiful graphics are not only compelling to behold, but also a major force of change in people's way of thinking, this book gives testament.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Cruising and Discovering Realism

    Jack London's Tales of Cannibals and Headhunters Nine South Seas Stories by America's Master of Adventure. Edited and Annotated by Gary Riedl and Thomas R. Tietze. Publihsed by University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

    Who ever heard of Jack London's The Cruise of the Snark will have a first-hand running journal of his most promising adventure, a famous book that reveals why London chose the adventures he did. That he would rather intensely experience than simply write is indicated by his account with a crew of twenty-two, his first encounter with fate:

    "Possibly the proudest achievement of my life, my moment of highest living, occurred when I was seventeen. I was in a three-masted schooner off the coast of Japan. We were in a typhoon. I was called from my bunk at seven in the morning to take the wheel… At the end of the hour, sweating and played out, I was relieved. But I had done it! I had done my trick at the wheel and guided a hundred tons of wood and iron through a millions tons of wind and waves…."

    Thus no stranger to the wild, un-tameable, or inconceivable so sought by readers of his adventure stories, London was prepared to meet the cannibals and headhunters he later wrote about in Tales of Cannibals and Headhunters . And in the same narrative, he often compared the philosophy of primitive peoples with that of the more modern people (i.e. his audience) to striking effect. Since the first publication of these stories, the world is smaller, in that life, outlook and culture have changed radically, so that people today might be shocked by London’s manner or message. And because of that, or maybe to enhance it, editors Riedl and Tietze provide a lengthy Introduction in which social issues and social history are addressed. As they point out:

    "The islands of the Pacific were, to the western world, the last mystery of global exploration."

    Valuable, because they place stories in the social context that readers might recognize and add a bit of commentary of London’s craft as well as his point of view, introductions to each of the nine stories are provided by the editors. In "An Introduction to the Terrible Solomons", they write about "the inevitable white man", a phrase used by London to help depict the condition of extreme differences in cultures encountered between opportunists and natives. London posited that people from the West were not actually just on discovery missions but were led by greed to commit criminal acts against people from cultures they were ignorant about.

    A gallery of 11 images accompanies the text and serves to give realistic relief from the original magazine illustrations set inside some of the stories. In it we see what the Solomon islanders looked like, along with several images of the Londons, mostly on the deck of the Snark.

    This is an unusual presentation of Jack London’s work and worthwhile for a reader studying the social issues race and economics of the early twentieth century.

    See another blog post on Jack London's book, Stories of Hawai'i at Aloha, Jack London.