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Katherine Wolcott and her uncle, Robert Hull Fleming, compiled this photo album on their visit to Japan in 1909. It contains nearly 40 leaves of collected photographs and postcards, numbering two to three per album page. The pictures range in content, some depicting staged photos of daily life while others portray landscapes and countryside. The album itself measures approximately 11 x 14 x 4 inches. Users can view the entire album, or individual images.
This collection represents a collaboration between the university’s Robert Hull Fleming Museum, where the album is housed, and the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives. Conceived of as part of the Museum’s Shadows of the Samurai: Japanese Warrior Traditions exhibit, this new online resource invites many perspectives on early twentieth century Japan.
Wolcott’s album captures a unique view of Japan at the brink of burgeoning Western influence. After defeating the Russians in the Russo Japanese War (1904-05), Japan began to cement itself as a global power, and its efforts to modernize began to attract Westerners. The images in this album depict a Japan with a strong national heritage and cultural appreciation as well as a newfound embrace of modernization and technology.Most of the pictures in the album sold commercially as a form of postcard. In the early 1900s, the Japanese populace began consuming millions of these types of commercially produced picture postcards. Eventually, the medium became so popular that it started to replace the more traditional wood block print. The citizenry sought pictures of their budding nation, wanting to hold a still image of the rapidly modernizing and changing countryside.