Selections from the Gerow D. Brill Papers

Investigator: Claire Cororaton, PhD Candidate, History

Collaborator: Emily Zinger, Cornell University Library

Arts & Sciences, 2021

This project will digitize glass negatives from the Gerow D. Brill Papers. Brill served as a scientific explorer for the United States Department of Agriculture. Soon after the outbreak of the Philippine-American War (1899 – 1907), he was appointed to set-up a model agricultural experimental station and agricultural school. The curated selection of glass negatives will focus on his survey of the agricultural situation of Philippines, such as photos of sugar farms and sugar mills, rice plantations, and duck farms. Brill’s photos present an unexplored visual lens into the early 20th century context of the Philippines, as well as the beginnings of US imperialism in Southeast Asia. They also foreground questions of agricultural productivity to the origins of the development of the modern Philippine State. These photos would also be of interest to an interdisciplinary group of scholars from fields such as Philippine Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, US Empire, political ecology, science and technology studies, and visual studies of colonialism. Finally, it would serve as an effective teaching tool for professors and scholars wishing to utilize visual sources in courses on empire and vision from a transnational perspective.