China, America and the Pacific

Posted: December 05, 2013

Last month saw the launch of China, America and the Pacific, a multi-library resource documenting the trading and cultural relationships between these regions during the period 1700-1900. An extensive range of material from 12 leading international libraries includes ships’ logbooks, rare newspapers and printed books, manuscript sources, historic maps, objects and artworks, ephemera and visual material.

The project offers insight into a wealth of subjects, including the key themes of Migration and Immigration, Trade and Commerce, and Exploration and Discovery. Each thematic area is introduced by a short overview and forms part of the document filtering facility to aid research on specific topics.

In addition to the wide variety of original documents, the resource contains an interactive chronology, contextual essays written by a specialist Editorial Board, online exhibitions, extensive image galleries including beautiful paintings and maps, museum objects, carefully selected external links, and a detailed glossary.

One of the most exciting features is the interactive map of Pacific voyages, created in collaboration with Axis Maps. These unique maps have been plotted using data gathered from voyages described in some of the logbooks that feature in China, America and the Pacific, and offer an unprecedented avenue for study. Users have the facility to ‘play’ a voyage from start to finish, watching each ship’s progress across the world in real time, to explore the ports at which a ship stopped, and to see at a glance how long the voyage took and what other voyages were taking place at the same time.
The voyages we have chosen to map represent a cross-section of the many hundreds that took place during the period 1787-1863, and vary considerably in length, route, date and purpose. The majority are trading trips, following variations of the ‘Golden Round’ route around the world to Canton. One example is the famous 1787-1790 journey of the Columbia Rediviva and the Lady Washington from Boston to Canton and back. Others are British, American or Russian voyages of discovery and exploration, which took in many diverse locations. We have also included a selection of fascinating whaling voyages from the logbooks in the Nantucket Historical Association’s collection.

Many of these voyages can be difficult to follow when reading the logbooks, especially when only latitude and longitude values are provided. The exceptional visual context offered by our interactive maps allows for easy comparison and study. There is the option to view a single voyage for more in-depth detail, or to view all voyages together so that they can be studied side-by-side. Numerous filtering options are also available to help users view a specific selection of voyages, and to find information on ships, ports, cargoes, companies, captains and dates. Voyages can also be navigated using the timeline bar.

An added benefit is the inclusion of choice excerpts and quotes from within the logs, illustrating significant events which took place during the voyages. Links back to the original documents are provided so users can see the excerpts in context and to make cross-referencing as simple as possible.

The opportunity to see this complex information in a visual format for the very first time will prove invaluable to researchers, and allow new questions to be asked and new conclusions drawn.

Further information and access to a free trial can be found here. For all pricing details please contact us.

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