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Thorp Collection 001, Altar of Heaven at night


Altar of Heaven at night. Beijing. (Hartungs) Notes regarding the images in the James Thorp Collection, presented in this database as images ecasia000072 through ecasia000278: -- We have very little specific information regarding individual images in this collection of images of China, beyond the titles of the images. Following is a general statement about the group of images, as a whole, and about their creator. -- James Thorp was a professor of geology and soil science at Earlham College from the 1940s until his retirement in the early 1960s, when he was replaced by Charles Martin. He was a legendary teacher, as well as a highly respected geologist and an international expert on soils and soil conservation practices. He also was a skilled photographer. -- When he retired from Earlham, he left a set of rich resources to the college, including a very large collection of photos of China from the 1930s and an important collection of Chinese art. -- The photo collection includes prints and a group of about 400 glass transparencies. The images in this current section of the IDEAS project have been drawn from the collection of glass slides. -- In 1933, when he was 37 years old, Thorp, then an employee of the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, U.S. Department of Agriculture, went to China, on loan from the Department of Agriculture. He served in China for three years as chief soil technologist for the National Geological Survey of China. The survey of Chinese resources which he directed resulted in his book, Geography of the Soils of China, published by the National Geologic Survey of China, 1936. -- During the years of his work in China, he toured the country analyzing and mapping the soils, taking many hundreds of photographs as he did so. Many are photos of soils, rock patterns, agricultural practices, etc., which he used later in his teaching and in his book on the soils of China. Other images depict China, itself, its temples, landscapes, and people. It is primarily from the latter group that these IDEAS project images have been selected. -- Unless otherwise noted, as is the case with the first 16 images presented here, image numbers ecasia000072 - ecasia000088, the photos were taken by James Thorp. [We believe that those first 16 slides were commercial images, several taken by a photographer named Hartungs, and the rest by Adams, as indicated in the data with the images.] The descriptions of the images, the only documentation we have for these images, are taken directly from Thorp's markings on each glass original, although spellings have been edited to reflect current practice. -- The images were taken using a view camera, probably producing glass negatives, which were then converted to these positive images on glass slides for projection. -- The positive glass slides have been carefully transferred to 35mm film by Wes Miller, Director, Instructional Technology and Media, Lilly Library, Earlham College. The film slides were scanned for use in this project by Sandy Augustin, Earlham assistant for the IDEAS project and secretary, Institute for Education on Japan. Ms. Augustin also worked with Photoshop to enhance some of the images for use in this project (high resolution, unedited files were produced also, for archiving of the images). The collection of James Thorp's photos and written materials, such as correspondence from China, is being surveyed and cataloged by Dr. Charles Martin, professor emeritus, Department of Geology, Earlham College, working with Dr. Thomas Hamm, Earlham College archivist. The collection of Chinese art bequeathed to the college by James and Eleanor Ballard Thorp is now part of the Earlham College Permanent Art Collection, Lilly Library.


Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only, in accordance with Fair Use policies. Acknowledgment to be given to the IDEAS Project and to Earlham College.

Administrative Notes

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only, in accordance with Fair Use policies. Acknowledgment to be given to the IDEAS Project and to Earlham College.

Copyright restrictions apply.
Earlham College
960 w x 631 h, 96 ppi