From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

From the Geil Archive—Introduction

Two years ago on Round and Square (15 August 2011)—Middles: By a Nose
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Please Note: All photographs marked "DHS" are with permission of the Doylestown Historical Society. They may not be reused without permission (e-mail me, and I will put you in touch with DHS).
[a] Itinerary DHS
Click here for other posts in the Round and Square series "From the Geil Archive":
               Introduction                   1-Southern Mountain Museum             2-Sacred Mountain Map           
               3-Hat and Cattle            4-Seeking Anthropology                      5-Curly Fives
Over the course of the autumn, I will be posting little tidbits here and there about a fascinating research project that has become fun for the whole family, as well as many people in Beloit, Wisconsin and Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I speak of William Edgar Geil (1865-1925), whose archive—preserved for thirty-four years by his widow and acquired by a Doylestown book collector—became a part of the Doylestown Historical Society holdings in 2008. I have been working on the Geil archives for three years now, and have given talks in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and (soon) even in China. Geil is the subject of a superb film by filmmaker Karl Stieg and cinematographer Andrew Stowe, and produced and written by Jennifer Lin and Bill Stieg. 

[b] Geil's 1893 Diary DHS
This autumn, Geil research will really take off when a team of recent graduates from Beloit College—with degrees in an overlapping combination of history, anthropology, Chinese, Japanese, and museum studies—will travel to Doylestown to work for three months on the goal of digitizing the entire collection. I am overseeing the work in one sense, but in a much bigger way, all sorts of interested people have teamed up to bring them to Doylestown. These range from the retired federal judge who got the whole ball rolling in the mid-2000s to the benefactor of the "Geil Grant Fund," and many helpers and donors at the Doylestown Historical Society along the way. 

The archives will be research-ready by early next year. In the meantime, I am going to give you some tidbits.

William Edgar Geil traveled all over the world, and his legacy is not unmixed. It is only accurate to say that his writing was "uneven," and veered more than occasionally into self-absorption. He did not speak or read the languages of the places to which he traveled, although that did begin to change with his utter fascination with China. On the very positive side, Geil took nothing from the places he visited. He was not a plunderer, like many other travelers of his day. And I must amend that slightly to say he "took" only photographs. His photos are a valuable and lasting resource for scholars and history aficionados all over the world.
[c] Reading DHS

And one more thing. Geil's travel ideas, his itineraries, were absolutely brilliant. To be sure, the "scholarly" or "literary" follow-through was often not nearly so impressive, but Geil knew something about reading the works of scholars and anticipating great projects many decades before anyone else really thought to carry them out. This is why I like to call him, fairly respectfully—but with a little bit of a wink, too—The Accidental Ethnographer. You can learn much more about him that has already been posted on this blog (check out the Accidental Ethnographer Resource Center to navigate through the material). This autumn, the students and I will continue to post fascinating little tidbits that show many aspects of Geil's powerful, quirky, and endearing personality. 

As I have always said, he's complicated. Who would want life any other way?

Tomorrow, we start with the tidbits.

Click here for other posts in the Round and Square series "From the Geil Archive":
               Introduction                   1-Southern Mountain Museum             2-Sacred Mountain Map           
               3-Hat and Cattle            4-Seeking Anthropology                      5-Curly Fives
[d] Tidbits DHS

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