To mark the occasion, US-based members of the Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project traveled to the UK where, over the span of one week, they joined UK-based collaborators to lecture on the project at the Universities of Edinburgh (14 November 2016) and Oxford (16 November 2016) and Queen’s University Belfast (18 November 2016).
Unlike the 1871 Field Diary (the subject of our last spectral imaging project), the 1870 Field Diary is perfectly legible in natural light. What makes the diary interesting are the many different scraps of paper over which Livingstone composed it and the history of these scraps before Livingstone wrote his diary, during his time, and the 145 years since.
Over this time, the diary has circulated through many hands and through many environments. Our project uses spectral imaging — not to reveal faded text (although we do do a little bit of that) — but to study the diary as a material object and to recover the lost hands, voices, and circumstances that shaped the manuscript as it exists today.
The content of the diary and of the other manuscripts in our edition are also of significant historical value, as we note on the project’s home page: “Because of his immobility [during this time], Livingstone focused his writing on African life to an extent usual both for his final writings (1866-73) and those of contemporaneous British travelers to Africa.
The documents capture Livingstone’s first-hand impressions of the Central African slave trade, record the complex social dynamics among local Central African populations, and set out detailed geographical information gathered through travel and by interviewing Arab and African informants.”
Below, we offer a selection of photos drawn from our trip. Please also feel free to visit our critical edition of the 1870 Field Diary.