Founded in 2011, The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to promoting and celebrating the public domain in all its richness and variety. All works eventually fall out of copyright – from classics works of art to absentminded doodles – and in doing so they enter the public domain, a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share and build upon without restriction. Our aim is to help our readers explore this rich terrain – like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond. With a focus on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of materials which truly celebrates the breadth and variety of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it.
Comets, like the planets and moons, were born from the cloud of dust and gas before the Sun flared into existence. Often described as “dirty snowballs”, they consist of a solid nucleus up to ten kilometres across, with a vaporous tail that can be millions of kilometres in length. The dramatic tail is actually composed of two, often overlapping parts: a curved dust tail trailing behind, and a gas tail pushed by the solar wind pointing directly away from the Sun.
The observed comets are classified as either short or long period. The short period comets orbit in regions of space between 35 and 100 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun; each AU is the distance from Earth to the Sun, or about 150 million kilometres. Just beyond the orbit of Neptune, these regions known as the Kuiper Belt and the Scattered Disk are filled with objects similar to the asteroids that exist between Mars and Jupiter. These comets are flung onto their dramatic orbits by the gravity of Neptune, and every so often one is deflected towards the Earth and the Sun.
Even more exotic are the long period comets from the Oort Cloud. This distant region of space between 3,000 and 50,000 AU – almost a quarter of the way to the closest other star – is hypothesised from the orbits of these far-travelling comets with orbital periods of millions of years. In it, trillion of comets are travelling on their distant ellipses, still gravitationally tied to the Sun. In some instances, such as Halley’s Comet, they are captured by the gravity of the outer planets and bound to much shorter orbits.
When a comet comes within the orbit of Mars, the energy of the Sun begins to heat up its atmosphere to form the dust and gas tails. When a comet comes close enough to Earth, we can train our telescopes on them. If we plan and cooperate, we can send robots after them to take a more careful look.
Pat Hadley, Sarah King and Stuart Ogilvy from The Yorkshire Museum (York Museums Trust), present a fascinating selection of photographs from the collection of Tempest Anderson, the pioneering Victorian volcanologist.
What could possess a respectable Victorian surgeon from York to spend much of his life travelling to remote and challenging parts of the world to study volcanoes and climb mountains?
For Tempest Anderson, pioneering new techniques of ophthalmic surgery and inventing photographic equipment was not enough. He decided that his ‘limited leisure’ time could not be filled with reading, writing or socialising, he sought to occupy himself with something more exciting: volcanology. For him, it was a branch of science that did not have too much literature and had the ‘advantage of offering exercise in the open air’: he saw the sides of volcanoes not as dangerous but ‘picturesque’.
Anderson would return to York and lecture at the Yorkshire Philosophical Society using a ‘magic lantern’ to display his glass slides and reveal far-flung landscapes to the scientific community. At his death, he donated half his estate and most of his archive to the YPS, and it is through this inheritance at the Yorkshire Museum that some of the 5,000 glass slides have come to be digitized for York Museums Trust’s online collection and Wikimedia Commons.
Anderson’s travels took him around the world. In an era when journeys were still unpredictable and difficult, he went to very remote areas to make detailed photographic studies of eruptions and their aftermath. His first few voyages were to European volcanic areas: Eifel in Germany, the Auvergne in France and Vesuvius, Etna and the Lipari islands of Italy.
He first attempted a bigger adventure in 1890 to Iceland and this was the first in a series of more ambitious trips to the Canaries, and North America.
Over the course of these trips he established his skills as a photographer and his reputation as a keen observer and analyst of volcanic phenomena. As a result of the numerous papers and lectures he gave about these trips he – an amateur – was commissioned by the Royal Society to travel to St Vincent and Martinique in the Caribbean to study the aftermath of major eruptions in 1902.
Of all his expeditions, this had the greatest scientific legacy and left some of the most dramatic photographs. Though we lack access to Anderson’s diaries or papers, it has been possible to retrace many of the details of this expedition and pin down photos from the archive to specific days and passages in the report on the trip.
Studying the volcanic dust under a microscope allowed Anderson to identify how far the dust had blown across to other islands and the sequence of eruptions.
The most amazing event on the trip was on July 9 when they were on a small yacht – the Minerva of Grenada – off the coast of Martinique. They had been studying the shape of the volcano and the clouds of gas, ashes and steam that were being ejected at regular intervals. Anderson’s account of the evening is so dramatic and characteristic of his work that it bears repeating at length:
In the rpidly-falling twilight we sat on deck intently watching the activity of the volcano, and calculating the chances of an ascent next morning, when our attention was suddenly attracted to a cloud which was not exactly like any of the steam ” cauliflowers ” we had hitherto seen. It was globular, with a bulging, nodular surface ; at first glance not unlike an ordinary steam jet, but darker in colour, being dark slate approaching black. … For a little time we stood watching it, and slowly we realised that the cloud was not at rest but was rolling straight down the hill, gradually increasing in size as it came nearer and nearer. We consulted together; it seemed so strange and so unaccountable, but in a minute or two suspicion gave place to certainty. It seemed that the farther the cloud travelled the faster it came, and when we took our eyes off it for a second and then looked back it was nearer and still nearer than before. There was no room for doubt any longer. It was a ” black cloud,” a dust cloud, and was making directly for us. So with one accord we prepared to get out of its path. We helped the sailors to raise the anchor and, setting the head sails, we slipped away before the wind. By the time the mainsail was hoisted we had time to look back, but now there was a startling change. The cloud had cleared the slopes of the hill. It was immensely larger, but still rounded, globular, with boiling, pillowy surface, pitch black, and through it little streaks of lightning scintillated. It had now reached the north side of the bay, and along its base, where the black mass rested on the water, there was a line of sparkling lightnings that played incessantly Soon, however, it seemed to lose its velocity ; its surface became less agitated, it formed a great black pall, with larger, less vigorous, more globular, bulging convolutions. Evidently its violence was spent, and it was not to strike us ; it lay almost like a dead mass on the surface of the sea.
[Anderson T, Flett, J, McDonald T. (1903) Report on the Eruptions of the Soufriere, in St. Vincent, in 1902, and on a Visit to Montagne Pelee, in Martinique. Part I. (p 493-494) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A]
Having escaped this first cloud, the scientists and sailors watched as Mount Pelee began to eject red-hot boulders up to a mile into the air and produce a huge ‘sullen growl’ that was heard in Barbados (nearly 150 miles away).
Then in an instant a red-hot avalanche rose from the cleft in the hillside, and poured over the mountain slopes right down to the sea. It was dull red, and in it were brighter streaks, which we thought were large stones, as they seemed to give off tails of yellow sparks. They bowled along, apparently rebounding when they struck the surface of the ground, but never rising high in the air. The main mass of the avalanche was a darker red, and its surface was billowy like a cascade in a mountain brook. Its velocity was tremendous. The mist and steam on the mountain top did not allow us to see very clearly how the fiery avalanche arose, but we had a perfect view of its course over the lower flanks of the hill, and its glowing undulating surface was clearly seen. Its similarity to an Alpine snow avalanche was complete in all respects, except the temperature of the respective masses. The red glow faded in a minute or two, and in its place we now saw, rushing forward over the sea, a great rounded, boiling cloud, black, and filled with lightnings. It came straight out of the avalanche, of which it was clearly only the lighter and cooler surface, and as it advanced it visibly swelled, getting larger and larger every minute. The moonlight shining on its face showed up the details of its surface. It was a fear-inspiring sight, coming straight over the water directly for us, where we lay with the sails flapping idly as the boat gently rolled on the waves of the sea…
The display of lightning in the cloud was marvellous. In rapid flashes, so short that they often seemed mere points, and in larger, branching, crooked lines it continually flickered and scintillated through the whole vast mass.
Nearer and nearer it came to where our little boat lay becalmed, right in the path of its murderous violence. We sat and gazed, mute with astonishment and wonder, overwhelmed by the magnificence of the spectacle, which we had heard so much about, and had never hoped to see. In our minds there was little room for terror, so absorbed were we in the terrible grandeur of the scene. But our sailors were in a frenzy of fear, they seized their oars and rowed for their lives, howling with dread every time they looked over their shoulders at the rushing cloud behind us. Their exertions did little good, as the boat was too heavy to row, and fear gave place to despair. But in a minute a slight puff of wind came from the south-east, very gentle, but enough to ripple the water and fill the sails, We had drifted out from the shore, so we gave our boatmen instructions to keep the boat close-hauled, and draw into the land, as the cloud was passing more to the westward. Then, when we looked at the cloud again ; it was changed, it showed no more the boiling, spouting, furious vigour, but the various rounded lobes in its point swelled slowly and to greater size, while fresh ones did not shoot forward, and the mass had a more reposeful and less violent appearance. In the moonlight it was difficult to say how far away it was, but judging by our distance from the shore, we thought it was a mile off, or rather more.
It now lay before us nearly immobile, a gigantic wall, curiously reflecting the moonlight like a pall of black velvet. Its surface was strangely still after the turmoil it had exhibited before, and great black rounded folds hung vertically like those of an enormous curtain.
[Anderson T, Flett, J, McDonald T. (1903) Report on the Eruptions of the Soufriere, in St. Vincent, in 1902, and on a Visit to Montagne Pelee, in Martinique. Part I. (p 494-497) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A]
The avalanche of hot sand was discharged about 8.20 p.m. In a couple of minutes it had reached the sea, and was over. The second black cloud, which was all that remained of it when the heavier dust had subsided, travelled about 5 miles in six minutes, and very rapidly slowed down, coming to rest and rising from the sea in less than a quarter of an hour. The tongue-shaped steam and dust cloud was over our boat by 8.40. A few minutes after that the ash was falling on our decks.
The second black cloud did not differ in appearance from the first, except that it was larger, had a far greater velocity, and swept out at least twice as far across the sea. It was black from the first moment when we saw its boiling surface in the moonlight. Both travelled very rapidly over the lower part of the mountain, but slowed down after reaching the sea, and came to rest comparatively suddenly. The lightnings on the two clouds were similar in all respects.
[Anderson T, Flett, J, McDonald T. (1903) Report on the Eruptions of the Soufriere, in St. Vincent, in 1902, and on a Visit to Montagne Pelee, in Martinique. Part I. (p 497) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A]
This incredible passage demonstrates Anderson and Flett’s ability to produce detailed descriptions of new phenomena despite terrifying circumstances . However, the cloud, the rocking deck and the twilight meant that Anderson’s heavy plate camera could not be used to capture the events. These observations, their studies and photographs led to the proper recognition for the first time of what are now known as ‘pyroclastic flows’ – heavier-than-air masses of volcanic gas and ash that tumble down the slopes at high speeds and enormous temperatures. It was one of these that had obliterated the town of Saint Pierre and destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii in AD 79.
In the following years Anderson made several return trips to the volcanoes of southern Italy and at least one to Egypt as well as attending the British Association for the Advancement of Science’s meeting in South Africa in 1905.
The next trip that really made a large impact was a return to the Caribbean in the winter of 1906-1907 to study the aftermath of the 1902 eruptions. Anderson combined this with visits to Mexico and Guatemala and the 1906 International Geological Congress in Mexico City. Anderson’s interest in the return of vegetation showed his holistic approach to the eruptions – he wasn’t just interested in the violent geomorphological phenomena but the way the volcanoes provided nutrients and changed the local ecosystems. His background in medicine also shows in his approach – he regarded close observation in the style of a ‘clinical or bedside study.’ The volcano of Santa Maria in Guatemala had also erupted very violently in 1902 killing around 5000 people. Anderson made studies comparing the aftermath to that of the Caribbean volcanoes.
Following this Anderson made an enormous voyage across the Pacific in 1909. Though the details of the itinerary are not clear, he visited New Zealand, Samoa, Hawaii, and then crossed the Rockies from Vancouver to the British Association meeting in Winnipeg, Canada. The trip into the Rockies was with Charles Doolittle Walcot – the discoverer of the Burgess Shale – and a number of other geologists from around the world.
Anderson’s final voyage was to Indonesia and the Philippines in 1913. On the return from this trip he contracted an illness on the ship and unfortunately died. He was buried at Suez, in Egypt. His loss was felt by many but a colleague had warned him several years before: “You know, Anderson, you are sure to be killed, but it will be such a very great satisfaction to you afterwards to think that it was in the cause of science.”
The legacy left by Anderson in York is understated today. The Tempest Anderson Hall was funded by Anderson in 1912, and is used by many on visits to the Yorkshire Museum, and the eagle-eyed may have spotted his plaque outside his former medical practice on Stonegate. However, few know much of the fantastic voyages made at the turn of the century by this adventurous doctor. Sharing his photographs online is a first step in telling his story.
Pat Hadley is Yorkshire’s Wikimedia Ambassador and works helping museums open up their collections online. Sarah King and Stuart Ogilvy are the curators of geology and natural history at the Yorkshire Museum.
This post is part of the Public Domain Review’s Curator’s Choice series, a monthly feature consisting of a guest article from a curator about a work or group of works in one of their “open” digital collections. The series is undertaken in partnership with OpenGLAM and made possible through funding from the European Union’s DM2E project.
To mark the 100 years since Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) fought the Gallipoli campaign of WW1, Alison Wishart, Senior Curator of Photographs at Australian War Memorial, explores the remarkable photographic record left by the soldiers. Made possible by the birth of Kodak’s portable camera, the photographs give a rare and intimate portrait of the soldier’s day-to-day life away from the heat of battle.
2015 marks the centenary of one of the most commemorated events in Australia’s military history. One hundred years ago, at dawn of 25th April, boatloads of Australians and New Zealanders quietly landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at a beach that became known as Anzac Cove.
Had Australia’s military commanders and elected leaders known how significant this event was to become in Australia’s history and the development of its national identity, they might have thought to send official photographers or war artists. But they didn’t. Instead, the photographic record of the nine month Gallipoli campaign relies primarily on the images taken by soldiers.
Fortunately, Kodak had released its ‘Vest Pocket’ camera in 1912, which made taking a camera to the front more feasible. Kodak encouraged enlistees to do this, marketing their new model as ‘the soldier’s Kodak’. Below is pictured the camera used by Sergeant P E Virgoe at Gallipoli from May-October 1915.
Officially, soldiers were not allowed to take a camera to the front. This was stipulated by Britain’s Secretary of State for the War, Lord Kitchener, after the bloody allied defeats of 1914 made it clear that manipulation of the public record of the war would be necessary to maintain enthusiasm for it. However, while the ruling was strictly enforced on the Western Front, it was barely given a cursory nod at Gallipoli. This allowed amateur and semi-professional photographer-soldiers to practice their focusing and framing skills in between their duties.
Approximately half of the Australians who fought at Gallipoli – nearly 25,000 recruits – left for their great overseas ‘adventure’ with a compact camera in their kit. Many of the nurses tending the wounded on the nearby Greek Island of Lemnos also carried a camera.
Little did they know that by creating their own visual diary, they would also be contributing to Australia’s only photographic record of the Dardanelles campaign. Of the 6,332 Gallipoli images from 1915 in the Australian War Memorial’s collection, soldiers took about 60 per cent. After the war, soldiers or their families donated their photographs to the Memorial, often in the form of personal albums or loose prints.
As ‘soldier photographers’, when they opened the shutter, they had a completely different purpose in mind from creating an official record of the war. This gives their photographs a raw, unmediated honesty.
The men documented their daily life which was often boring and monotonous. In between battles, there were long stretches of ‘fatigues’ such as digging trenches and dugouts, carrying water up from the beaches or wells and going on sentry duty. As soldiers, they were not in a position to photograph their fighting, so they took snaps of their daily life instead. What the photographs lack in composition, they make up for in their poignant and candid simplicity.
The photographs complement the soldiers’ written records. Sapper Victor Willey, a 22 year old from Victoria (service no. 134) wrote about his awful rations in a letter to his parents dated 7 September 1915:
We are fed up with this life, and the strain upon our constitution is terrible. In fact, some of us who have been in the trenches since 25th April and are now as weak as cats and no wonder! [. . .] in the morning we get a piece of bacon about six inches long [. . .] (but it is nearly all fat) and about a pint of tea with hard biscuits. On rare occasions we also get a loaf of bread. For dinner [lunch], we have three courses – water, tea and sugar (lovely). For tea, we have bully-beef stew (done to perfection). This happens every day, barring the bread – but at times the bread is forgotten altogether.
The Memorial does not hold any photographs taken by Willey but it does hold many photographs of the food he speaks of.
Staff Sergeant Hector Dinning of the Australian Army Service Corps wrote in his 1918 memoir:
It’s the monotony that kills; not hard work, nor hard fare. We have now been disembarked on the Peninsula rather longer than three months. But there has been little change in our way of living. Every day there is the same work on the same beach, shelled by the same guns, manned by the same Turks…
Colonel Charles Snodgrass Ryan, a surgeon with the Australian Army Medical Services, took a remarkable collection of over 180 photographs at Gallipoli and Egypt in 1915. His images, taken with a stereo camera, also depict daily life at Gallipoli, but are composed with a practised eye.
Corporal Albert Savage was stationed in the x-ray ‘department’ of the 3rd Australian General Hospital on Lemnos Island, 96km from Anzac Cove and the destination for casualties evacuated from Gallipoli. The Memorial holds over 300 photographs taken by him on Lemnos which provide a valuable insight into the workings of a field hospital on an arid island.
Padre Walter Dexter also had a camera at Gallipoli. As an Australian army chaplain who officiated at burial services he had to come to terms with death, and some of his photographs depict this. He also photographed soldiers at the latrines. These sort of candid images would never be within the remit of official photographers.
One of Dexter’s photographs was acquired by Colarts Studio in Sydney and colourised and popularised by them.
War correspondents Phillip Schuler and Charles Bean travelled with their cameras as well as their typewriters. Before embarking for Gallipoli, they photographed each other on the same pyramid in Egypt.
The Memorial holds more than 2000 of Schuler’s evocative photographs from Gallipoli and the western front (where he was killed in June 1917) including a much reproduced image after the battle of Lone Pine.
Charles Bean, Australia’s only official war correspondent at Gallipoli, felt that photographs should tell the “plain, simple truth”. He disagreed vehemently with the practice of Ernest Brooks, who staged photographs for dramatic effect, such as the photograph seen below. Brooks was appointed by the British Admiralty to photograph British and Australian troops at Gallipoli.
Charles Bean went on to help establish the Australian War Records Section in 1917 and write the Official History of the Australian Imperial Forces in the First World War. His photographs, such as that of an outdoor communion service, helped him recall the events of the Great War.
For the 25,000+ Australian soldiers who took cameras to Gallipoli, their photographs also served as memory triggers. When they returned from the war, the images reminded them that amidst the monotony of trench life – the flies, heat, dust, stench and thirst of the summer stalemate – they found people and events worth photographing. A century on, we are grateful to these soldier photographers for giving us a glimpse into their life at Gallipoli. Devoid of hubris, but often full of humour and pathos, these photographs provide a unique record of life at the front line. As Australians and New Zealanders around the world gather at dawn this Anzac Day, I hope we will remember not just the soldiers who landed on the beaches, but also the remarkable photographic record they created.
Alison Wishart has worked as a curator and/or collection manager since 2003 at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville and the State Library of Queensland (Brisbane) before moving to Canberra in 2008 to work at the National Museum of Australia and now the Australian War Memorial where she holds the position of Senior Curator of Photographs. She has a BA (Hons) from the University of Queensland and a Masters in Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage. Alison is currently researching the psychological, social and physical impacts of food at Gallipoli and online memorialisation.