The Goldwater Library has taken its first step into digitized collections with the uploading of a scanned version of a work in its library collection.
The work, Notice sur les collections africaines du Major J--, published in 1920, is part autobiography, part ethnography and part sales catalog. [Click here to see the WATSONLINE entry]
Props to Joy Garnett, who did the original scanning and prepared the file for uploading; and Dan Lipcan, of the Watson Library, for making it available on the Internet and providing wise counsel and advice.
The author first visited the Haut-Oubangui region of French Equatorial Africa in 1903, moving in 1905 to the Ogoué in present-day Gabon. After a brief return to France, he returned to Mobaye in January of 1906. After a brief convalescent return to France in 1909, Jacquier resumed his post in the province of Haut-Oubangui, where he remained until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. (Haut-Oubangui is the present-day Central African Republic.)
While the commandant's primary interests there may not have been aesthetic, he nevertheless collected a wide range of art and material culture from the region, which he displayed in his flat in the Cinquième Arrondissement of Paris.
The text is divided into five sections: an introduction, an overview of the region, an ethnography of the inhabitants (seen as only a colonial officer would see it), and a discussion of the local economy. The fifth section, and by far the largest, is a review of the author's collection of curiosities. While the bulk of the collection was removed from Haut-Oubangui, Jacquier offers objects from his first trip to Gabon as well as objects from Madagascar, hunting trophies, and furniture "in the Egyptian style."
The book is modest by most standards -- only forty pages of text. What sets it apart from similar publications are the eleven original photographs bound with with text. The photographs are 'installation shots' of the author's collection, to our modern eyes quite fancifully displayed in dazzlingly geometric patterns. Judging from the photographs alone, the collection leaned heavily toward arms and weaponry. One photo features "the orchestra of the grand Negro chiefdoms of Ouèllé and mBomou."
The photographs, taken with the poor quality of the paper on which the text is printed, make this library holding particularly difficult to handle. By providing a digitized version of the work it is hoped that the contents of this important work can be more widely shared with the research community at no hazard to the original.
We will announce additions to the Goldwater Library's digital collections as they appear.