Saturday, November 20, 2004

Edward Bransfield RN

Edward Bransfield RN - Provides information about this man and his connection with Antartica. Also includes information on other key people involved in both the 'Voyage of Discovery and Exploration' and Bransfield's life.

From the site:

Nothing, so far, is known with any certainty about his pre-naval life, which until investigated thoroughly by a dedicated historian, will remain a mystery.

There has been speculation by some writers (e.g. A.G.E. Jones 1966) that both Edward, and his brother William, were in fact English. This however does not 'tie-in' with the likely origin of the Bransfield surname. [Follow Bransfield Surname link at the top of the page]

The only certainty is that Edward was 'prest' on 2nd June 1803 and then drafted to the 'Ville de Paris' as an Ordinary Seaman.

Given the existing vagueness of Edward's life between 1783-1803 the Site Editor can only offer the following, a 'family folk history' for this period - alongside the usual caution with folk histories, that there is no evidence.

The 'family folk history' suggests that Edward was 'prest' while sailing in a small boat with his brother William off the coast of Co. Cork. The 'folk history' further suggests that Edward's father was a flour merchant / owner of a bakery, of some sort, that counted among its customers, the Royal Navy with regard the provision of 'Ships' Biscuits'.

Such a background suggests that Edward would have come from a family of adequate means with regard his education and it is quite likely that he must have been engaged in some employment before his enforced employment with His Majesty's Navy. This employment could have been with the 'family firm' or outside. Either way some trace is likely to exist of perhaps schooling and employment. He was, after all, 20yrs of age or thereabouts at the time of his 'pressing' and able to 'afford' a little recreational sailing [if the family folk history has any validity]. In support of the 'adequate family means' theory is that Edward's Education must have been sufficient to equip him to advance in his Naval career; from the lowliest rank, to being given immense responsibilty at the highest rank available to him.

Friday, November 19, 2004

History of Ecuador

History of Ecuador. This is a short overview to the history of the South American nation of Ecuador.

From the site:

Advanced indigenous cultures flourished in Ecuador long before the area was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century. In 1534, the Spanish arrived and defeated the Inca armies, and Spanish colonists became the new elite. The indigenous population was decimated by disease in the first decades of Spanish rule--a time when the natives also were forced into the "encomienda" labor system for Spanish landlords. In 1563, Quito became the seat of a royal "audiencia" (administrative district) of Spain.

After independence forces defeated the royalist army in 1822, Ecuador joined Simon Bolivar's Republic of Gran Colombia, only to become a separate republic in 1830. The 19th century was marked by instability, with a rapid succession of rulers. The conservative Gabriel Garcia Moreno unified the country in the 1860s with the support of the Catholic Church. In the late 1800s, world demand for cocoa tied the economy to commodity exports and led to migrations from the highlands to the agricultural frontier on the coast.

A coastal-based liberal revolution in 1895 under Eloy Alfaro reduced the power of the clergy and opened the way for capitalist development. The end of the cocoa boom produced renewed political instability and a military coup in 1925. The 1930s and 1940s were marked by populist politicians such as five-time president Jose Velasco Ibarra. In January 1942, Ecuador signed the Rio Protocol to end a brief war with Peru the year before. Ecuador agreed to a border that conceded to Peru much territory Ecuador previously had claimed in the Amazon. After World War II, a recovery in the market for agricultural commodities and the growth of the banana industry helped restore prosperity and political peace. From 1948-60, three presidents--beginning with Galo Plaza--were freely elected and completed their terms.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A Crimean Diary

A Crimean Diary - Details of the memorial and diary of sergreant William Jowett of Beeston, Nottinghamshire, who died as a result of wounds sustained in the Crimean conflict.

From the site:

William Jowett was born in 1830 in Breaston, Derbyshire, the second child and only son of Enoch Jowett and his wife Jane. After the death of his mother in June 1842, his father remarried and a further five sisters and two brothers were born. One of his sisters, Emma married my great great grandfather, Edward Bywater at Beeston Parish Church on Christmas day 1859.

In 1836 the family moved to Beeston, then a town of less than 3000 inhabitants, situated five miles west of Nottingham. William's father, a self employed lace maker by trade had experienced a downturn in fortune and moved his family to Villa Street, in the centre of the town.

Villa Street still exists today, but at that time seems to have been at the centre of the local lace making trade. There were a number of small lace manufacturers operating in the area, some with only one machine and renting space within the premises of other companies.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Collecting Herman Melville

Collecting Herman Melville - An essay detailing the difficulty and allure in collecting works by Melville. Contains biographical information as well as information on his works and their popularity through the last century.

From the site:

Nineteen-ninety-one marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Herman Melville. Numerous observances were held to commemorate the work of that remarkable American writer, so widely forgotten a century ago and so widely celebrated today. The centenary was another step in the evolving attitude toward the man and his work. The re-evaluation of Melville's literary career began even before his death, and has grown in ever-widening circles ever since. Today it is a healthy small industry, especially in the academic arena, where biographers, critics and interpreters, as well as biographers of critics and critics of biographers, assiduously work away. In this whole imposing edifice of Melville studies, booksellers and book collectors have played a role, sometimes aiding scholarship and sometimes paralleling it. And, at the same time, intentionally or not, they have shaped some part of the way Melville is read today.

I came to be a collector of Melville, and hence a participant in the modern Melville world, purely as an amateur. Hearing Robert Penn Warren read from Battle-Pieces inspired me to read further than Moby-Dick, and I worked my way through the works from Typee to the late poems before beginning to accumulate seriously. My reading was made easier by having acquired, for starters, the scholarly Melville material from the library of the Yale professor, Norman Holmes Pearson. This gave me a wealth of secondary material, including all of the standard biographies and early criticism. My own reference library provided many of the sources for the activities of my predecessors in Melville collecting. These aided greatly both in pursuing Melville material and in looking at the history of collecting him. In the case of Melville, there is a strong parallel between the revival of general scholarly interest in him and interest in Melville collecting. In both instances, the modern "Melville revival" dates from 1919, both the centenary of his birth and beginning of a more disillusioned, deterministic, post-war age.

Melville was never completely ignored by intelligent readers during his decades of eclipse. In England, especially, Moby-Dick found numerous readers in the late nineteenth century and first decade of the twentieth century, most notably among the Pre-Raphaelites and such writers as W.H. Hudson and Virginia Woolf. It is safe to say that his general literary stock was far higher among English readers than among Americans during this period. At home, Arthur Stedman made a valiant effort to revive Melville around the time of his death in 1891, republishing Typee, Omoo, White Jacket, and Moby-Dick, but the publisher went bankrupt, and the remaining sheets were sold to an English publisher. Typee seems to have never gone out of print at Harper's during Melville's lifetime, even if its sales were minimal. Moby-Dick saw further republication in England, including in Everyman's Library, before the First World War.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren. This is a decent biography of President Van Buren. He was also know as Old Kinderhook and rumor has it that the expression "OK" originated from him.

From the site:

Martin Van Buren ( December 5 , 1782 - July 24 , 1862 ) was the eighth ( 1833 - 1837 ) Vice President , the eighth ( 1837 - 1841 ) President of the United States and the first President born after the Declaration of Independence.

He was born in Kinderhook , New York of Dutch descent. His father Abraham Van Buren ( February 17 , 1737 - April 8 , 1817 ) was a farmer and tavern-keeper. His mother Maria Hoes ( February 27 , 1747 - February 16 , 1817 ) also had children from a previous marriage.
Martin's education was limited to that which could be obtained in the common schools and at Kinderhook Academy. In 1796 he began the study of law , completing his preparation in 1802 at New York , where he studied under William Peter Van Ness ( 1778 - 1826 ), an eminent lawyer and later Aaron Burr 's second in the duel with Alexander Hamilton . Van Buren made the acquaintance of Burr, but did not fall under his influence. In 1803 he was admitted to the bar and continued in active and successful practice for twenty-five years.

Monday, November 15, 2004

History of Nauru

History of Nauru. This is an overview to the history of the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru.

From the site:

Nauru had little contact with Europeans until whaling ships and other traders began to visit in the 1830s. The introduction of firearms and alcohol destroyed the peaceful coexistence of the 12 tribes living on the island. A 10-year internal war began in 1878 and resulted in a reduction of the population from 1,400 (1843) to around 900 (1888).

The island was allocated to Germany under the 1886 Anglo-German Convention. Phosphate was discovered a decade later and the Pacific Phosphate Company started to exploit the reserves in 1906, by agreement with Germany. Following the outbreak of World War I, the island was captured by Australian forces in 1914. After the war the League of Nations gave Britain, Australia, and New Zealand a trustee mandate over the territory. The three governments established the British Phosphate Commissioners, who took over the rights to phosphate mining.

During World War II Japan occupied Nauru in August 1942 and deported 1,200 Nauruans to work as laborers in the Caroline Islands, where 463 died. The survivors returned to Nauru in January 1946.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Systematics in Prehistory ebook

Systematics in Prehistory ebook - Robert C. Dunnell questions the validity of the concepts and assumptions of scientific classification of prehistoric societies based upon artifacts. A hypertext companion to the book with the same title that features chapter summaries and a glossary.

From the site:

Man has probably had an interest in his past as long as he has been man. Depending upon which authorities one reads and which criteria he uses, this interest has been expressed as archaeology in Western Civilization variously since the birth of that civilization in the Near East, since the time of classical Greece and Rome in the Mediterranean, or since the European Renaissance. Over this period of time--be it five thousand or five hundred years--there naturally have been radical changes in the approach and nature of archaeology.

Today, judging by the meager perspective that can be gained contemporarily, we seem to be entering such a period of change. Often this change is phrased in terms of different approaches or competing schools called the "new archaeology" and the "old archaeology." The "new archaeology" has a different view of the relevance of man's past to his present; its goals appear to be aimed at explanation of man's past, not just at its recitation With new aims have come, at least to some degree, new means for accomplishing them. The newly envisioned goals provide a clarity of purpose, and the people practicing the "new archaeology" are more systematic and articulate about what they are doing, how they are doing it, and, most importantly, why they are doing it. In looking back, or rather across, to the "old" the complaints of the new are not so much that the old is wrong--indeed, the old has produced nearly all that we now have of man's past--but that its goals are too narrow, when it has goals at all. An interest in the past is no longer deemed a justification for a discipline in terms of "current relevance."

In particular, the new has criticized the old as being "an art." This criticism has been drawn for nearly twenty years, usually by pointing out that there is no means within archaeology to rationally evaluate its conclusions. One has to be content with "believing" or with assessing the merits of a set of conclusions by a knowledge of the professional status of the individual who did the work.

There is no denying that this was true and continues to be true of much that is done in archaeology and that this is not a healthy state of affairs. Because of these rather obvious faults, there is a strong tendency to reject the "old archaeology" and to replace it, or attempt to, with the "new archaeology." This, however, it to deny the results of the old and, indeed, the "new archaeology" itself which is born of the old and covertly contains much of it.