Earliest known photos of Guam on display in national museum
Earliest known photos of Guam on display in national museum.
The earliest known photographs of Guam dating back to the 1800s are on display at the First Lady's Museum at Government House in Hagatna.
The photos, which were first publicly exhibited in Berlin over a century ago, made their way to the Australian National Library where they were picked up by a visiting academic group from Guam.
Indira Moala reports.
The photos were taken by a German traveller over a century ago and reveal Guam's rich history. Gustav Reimer was a paymaster of the German ship the SMS Hertha which travelled to Asia and the Pacific between 1874 and 1877.
The Director of the Guam Museum, Simeon Palomo, says the pictures reveal the existence of religious and cultural traditions that Guam's native people of Chamorros still retain today.
SIMEON PALOMO: In 1876, that was near the end of the Spanish period of Guam, so by that time when Reimer came to Guam the conditions were not good. And I guess a lot of the photos show the influence of Spain and the Catholic Church. So you see a lot of images of priests, religious crosses, even the Spanish dress - the Metizas. So you know, we have a lot of oral history and a lot of traditions still continue with the Catholic faith.
A Guam historian, Tony Ramirez, says the detail in the pictures provides insight into Guam's culture, politics and community in the late 1800s.
TONY RAMIREZ: A picture paints a thousand words. A picture captures time, place and history - and with these photographs, you're looking at Guam 140 years ago through a photograph, the way Hagatna looked which is so different from the way it looks today. And when you're looking at these visuals, it captures a time of the way they built their houses, the people that were living here, social conditions of what was going here. Not only do the photographs depict the governance of the spanish policy of bringing people in, it also has documented the historical landscape of Hagatna.
The Reimer collections include a photo of the historic Fort Santa Agueada. Mr Ramirez says Reimer's photo of the fort shows that the structure has remained in very good condition.
TONY RAMIREZ: One of the photographs that is very poignant among all of them is - the Spanish built a fort - Fort Santa Agueada. The fort which is still there, now under the national and Guam register of historic places - that photographic really captures the fort at the given time and it really hasn't changed much even till today. So the photographs are defining so many elements of what Guam was like over 140 years ago.
Mr Ramirez says research into Guam's history is vital because Hagatna is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific region with a European link. The photos can be viewed on the Guam Museum's Facebook page.
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