Thursday, July 24, 2014

Royal Geographical Society

Today was our last class visit. We went to the Royal Geographical Society. Eugene Rae, the librarian, spoke to us and showed us some of the objects in their collection. They have over two million items in the collection. Personally, this was my favorite class visit of the trip.
The plaque at the Royal Geographical Society

The Royal Geographical Society was founded in 1830. The goal was scientific exploration and geography. Most of the items in the collection relate to exploration. One of the key collections at the Royal Geographical Society is a scientific instruments collection. The society wanted to train people to use the instruments so that information gathered on expeditions would be accurate. They would also loan these instruments out to explorers.

However, my favorite objects we got to see related to exploration in Africa. In the early years of the Royal Geographical Society, the interior portions of Africa were unexplored and mysterious. Specifically where the source of the Nile was located. There had been arguments about where the source was, so David Livingstone set out to find the truth. Eugene Rae had set out some objects relating to this search. In fact, we got to see the actual hat that Livingstone was wearing on his expedition! We also got to see some of the scientific equipment Livingstone used, including a tool used to measure distance above sea level. Livingstone didn't find the source of the Nile, and in fact became very ill in Africa. For this reason, a journalist named Henry Morgan Stanley went into Africa and found Livingstone. We also got to see his hat as well! These items were some of the most exciting things I got to see while in London!
A statue of David Livingstone 

We also got to see some items used by people who climbed Mt. Everest and explored the Arctic and Antarctic. One of the most interesting of these items was a pair of glasses that were meant to protect the eyes from snow blindness. They had a small slit in the front to limit the amount of light allowed to reach the eye. We also got to see Shackleton's hat, which was made by Burberry, which I thought was very neat! Shackleton was an explorer who went to the south pole, and across Antarctica. All of these items are kept in climate controlled storage in the dark. The Royal Geographic Society also has an online catalog along with a picture library online.            

No comments:

Post a Comment