Jennifer Donnelly's blog

Ill-Treatment of Chinese at San Francisco.  From Arthur H. Smith, "A Fools Paradise," Outlook, March 24 1906.

 

The Search for Bertillon Cards from the Chinese Exclusion Act

For the past few months, Aisling and I have been searching for the identification cards created for Chinese immigrants using the Bertillon system of measurement.  While we have found many earlier and later identification cards from the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Bertillon cards created during the system’s short-lived period of use, between 1903 and 1906, have eluded us.  The Bertillon system was used to create a database of Chinese laborers who were exempt from the Chinese Exclusion Act and thus allowed

Categories: 
  • Research Groups
  • Agency
  • Identity
  • Mobility/Exchange
  • Visual Knowledge
  • Current Projects
  • VMW
 

The Act of Identification: Bertillon and Chinese Exclusion

Last week’s break-through led us to begin researching the use of the Bertillon system to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act.  The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers from 1882 to 1943.

Categories: 
  • Agency
  • Identity
  • Decomposing Bodies
  • Graduate Work
  • VMW
 

Visual Media Workshop Fall Newsletter

Whether you are interested in one of our longer term collaborative research projects, primarily use the lab for short-term support for your own work, or are just curious about what’s happening, you will find that we are an interactive team interested in a variety of cultural questions and embedded in the dynamic interplay between the humanities and information science.

Categories: 
  • Decomposing Bodies
  • Itinera
  • Undergraduate Work
  • Graduate Work
  • Faculty Work
  • VMW
 

Bertillon Identities: Who are they?

Recording data set after data set of prisoner identification cards, a curious abstraction occurs.  The brain seeks the numbers, driving the input process of thirty or fourtly files in a digitized sequence and distilling the final phyiscal traces of these men into an endless chain of data.  The numbers are cold, firm, but not completely infallible (How did his arm get THAT much smaller between 1902 and 1906?)  The computer asks for the data, but the card itself tells another story.

Categories: 
  • Agency
  • Identity
  • Decomposing Bodies
 

Itinera News!

In the coming weeks, I will be producing a new set of standardized instructions for entering data into Itinera, as well as updating the older data to comply with these new insructions.  Key changes include the way we will handle agents, tours, and tour stops going forward.

Categories: 
  • Mobility/Exchange
  • Itinera
 

Building Decomposing Bodies: Thinking about interactions with Bertillon Furniture

In thinking about a possible exhibition on Decomising Bodies, I hope to create an interactive exhibit that recreates the Bertillion furniture.  Visitors could meausure themselves and fill out Berthillon cards for themsevles and their companions, thus transcribing their own bodies into the system of measurement and identification.  This concept has important implications for concepts of the agency.

Categories: 
  • Agency
  • Current Projects
  • Decomposing Bodies
  • Graduate Work
  • VMW
 

Alexander von Humboldt's and Aimé Bonpland's South American Voyage

Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland expressed the intent of their voyage was to discover how the "forces of nature intersect upon one another and how the geographic environment influences plant and animal life."  They hoped to  "find out about the unity of nature."  The voyages and their "discoveries" did not necessarily uncover new knowledge, but rather interpreted the knowledge of the South American continent and made it legible to a European audience.

Categories: 
  • Mobility/Exchange
  • Visual Knowledge
  • Itinera
 

Jen's Thought's on Decomposing Bodies:

Thinking about Decomposing Bodies, I came across many Bertillion Card Forms that were missing their left corner.  The loss of these corners meant that the card type could not be properly determined.  Thus the card type was catalogued by making my best guess between "1900s Card with 'Stoop'" and "1900s Card with 'Eng Ht.'" The frequency of cards with missing left corners means that a substantial number of cards are potentially being catalogued incorrectly due to insufficient information.

Categories: 
  • Decomposing Bodies
  • VMW