Hidden Histories of Exploration: Exhibiting Geographical Collections

Project start date: 2008-10 Project end date: 2009-12
This project considers the role played by indigenous peoples and intermediaries in the history of exploration, as revealed by research in the collections of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). The project is particularly concerned with the roles of guides, porters, pilots, cooks, carriers, interpreters, go-betweens and informants in the creation of geographical knowledge. In wider terms, it seeks to provide a model for new ways of working with well-established geographical collections. The main output is an exhibition, held at the RGS-IBG in 2009, and an accessible website at www.rgs.org/hiddenhistories which includes all exhibition images, a full calalogue linked into the RGS-IBG collections, alongside significant additional research resources. There is also a full-colour companion volume published by Royal Holloway in collaboration with the RGS-IBG. The formal project objectives were (1) To support the production and dissemination of new research on the role of indigenous peoples in voyages of exploration, by means of scholarly investigations into the RGS-IBG collections; (2) To stimulate new ways of thinking about collections relating to travel, discovery and exploration which have practical applications for educational, exhibition and new audience programmes; (3) To highlight and investigate the challenges posed by the aim to read major metropolitan historical collections 'against the grain', and to explore ways of telling less familiar stories through and about these collections; (4) To provide electronic resources which will be of use in RGS-IBG research and outreach programmes, principally by means of an online exhibition on the Society's website.
Methods usedCategory
2d scanning and photographyData capture
Cataloguing and indexingData structuring and enhancement
Collaborative publishingData publishing and dissemination
CollatingData analysis
CurationStrategy and project management
DocumentationStrategy and project management
General project managementStrategy and project management
General website developmentData publishing and dissemination
IndexingData analysis
Iterative designStrategy and project management
Moving image captureData capture
PreservationStrategy and project management
Record linkagesData analysis
Record linkagesData structuring and enhancement
Resource sharingCommunication and collaboration
Sound editingData structuring and enhancement
Sound recordingData capture
Video and moving image compressionData structuring and enhancement
Video editingData structuring and enhancement
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Software tools used: 
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Joomla Content Management System
  • Photoshop
  • Word
Source material used:  
The project research ranged across the RGS-IBG collections which are of world historical significance. Materials included manuscripts; printed books, journals and ephemera; engravings,drawings and paintings in watercolour and oils; manuscript and printed maps; original photographs in various formats; artefacts; documentary film.
Digital resource created:  
The website includes the images and text from the original exhibition; full exhibition catalogue with links with the RGS-IBG collections catalogue; additional image galleries devoted to selected items from the collections; film clips from a 1922 Everest documentary; additional research resources, including downloadable files from the RGS-IBG journals, bibliographies, resources on geographical exhibitions and a guide to exploration websites; audio interviews with community consultants; and a podcast about the exhibition.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Data Formats created: 
F Driver & L Jones, Hidden Histories of Exploration: Researching Geographical Collections (RGS-IBG/Royal Holloway, 2009).

F Driver & L Jones, ‘Hidden histories? Local knowledge & indigenous agency in the history of geographical exploration’, Proceedings of the 14th International Conference of Historical Geographers, Kyoto (2010).

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
Royal Holloway
University of London
Other institutions involved:

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Professor Felix Driver
Other staff:Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:

Metadata on this arts-humanities.net record
Author(s) of recordfelix driver
TitleHidden Histories of Exploration: Exhibiting Geographical Collections
Record created2010-06-24
Record updated2010-06-24 10:53
URL of recordhttp://www.arts-humanities.net/node/3651
Citation of recordfelix driver: Hidden Histories of Exploration: Exhibiting Geographical Collections. <http://www.arts-humanities.net/node/3651> created: 2010-06-24, last updated 2010-06-24 10:53

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