THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Americas studies blog

19 July 2013

Digitised Collections: more Arctic journeys

Royal North West Mounted Police barracks and Churchill River, Churchill, 1907 (HS85-10-18547)

Above: barracks on the Churchill River. Geraldine Moodie, 1907. From Wikimedia Commons.

Public Domain Mark
These works are free of known copyright restrictions.

Following on from last week's blog about Arctic journeys here are some more recent collection items that connect to the theme of exploration and geopolitics. They also happen to have been part of the recent Picturing Canada project, once again showing the diversity of the Canadian colonial copyright photograph collection.

The photographs shown here are the work of Geraldine Moodie, a photographer originally from Toronto who moved around Canada extensively with her family and husband, North-West Mounted Police officer John Douglas Moodie. One of John Moodie's most significant postings was as part of the Dominion Government expedition to the eastern Arctic and Geraldine accompanied him for part of this trip.

John Moodie and others who made up the official expedition (such as Albert Low) had a very specific mission, to use surveys, science and other forms of evidence gathering (not least photography) to assert Canada's sovereignty over the far north. While Geralinde Moodie had worked on official government projects before in the context of this expedition she was present as a civilian and the photographs she took were part of her own portfolio of work.

Group of Esquimaux women and children Fullerton, 1906 (HS85-10-18546)

Above: portrait of women and children at Fullerton. Geraldine Moodie, 1906. From Wikimedia Commons.

As a result the photographs provide a view of the spaces and communities she found herself in proximity to that is somewhat different from the images produced by John Moodie and Albert Low. None-the-less they still represent a record of an expedition to the Arctic where exploration, science and technology all combined to assert the continuing sovereignty of Canada over the Arctic north.

The collections held at the British Library, therefore, are not just a window onto the early history of exploration and statecraft in the Arctic, instead these collections carry the story through to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Photographs, maps, newspapers, official publications, scientific journals and academic monographs are all part of telling this later history, a rich set of resources we look forward to the next Team Americas PhD student digging into.

One final thing, the photographs above are part of the Picturing Canada project and therefore in the public domain, with higher resolution images available from Wikimedia Commons. Other photographs by Geraldine Moodie can be found on the British Museum catalogue while work by Albert Low is available from Library and Archives Canada.

[PJH]

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