Voyage with the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881
Original manuscript by Johan Adrian Jacobsen
English translation by Hartmut Lutz
86 pages, 14 illustrations/photographs
In August 1880, Norwegian Johan Adrian Jacobsen arrives in Labrador on the Eisbär. He’s hoping to recruit 'Eskimos' willing to follow him to Europe to become the latest attraction in the ethnographic shows organized by Carl Hagenbeck, a menagerie owner and pioneer of 'human zoos.'
Two families accept Jacobsen’s offer, but soon after their arrival in Europe they realize their decision had been the wrong one. From that point on, their dearest wish is to return home to Labrador. Unfortunately, within four months the group no longer exists, all eight were killed by smallpox.
Johan Adrian Jacobsen’s diary being an essential source for understanding the events that occurred over 134 years ago, we are presenting, in this book, the English translation of his diary. Discover the moods, thoughts and qualms of this 27 year old man; from his unsuccessful attempt to recruit 'Eskimos' in Greenland, his despair to see that Moravian missionaries in Labrador also oppose his project, his jubilation when Abraham agrees to accompany him with his family, to his shock of facing the first two deaths only minutes after doctors had told him there was no reason to be alarmed, the heartbreaking moment when Abraham has to hand over his three year old daughter to a hospital in Germany, and finally, the horror of being admitted to the smallpox unit of a Paris hospital where the 'Eskimos' as well as Europeans suffer and die around him.
"When I saw to Ulrike shortly after midnight, I noticed that she too would end her struggle soon. I tried to comfort her, but she waved me off with her hand, as if she did not want to see me at all. That was no surprise, because she knew that all the others had gone before her. I felt guilty to a certain degree for the death of these unfortunate people, even if unintentionally. Had I not come to Labrador, they would still be alive like all their relatives." (Johan Adrian Jacobsen, January 16, 1881)
What they said about Voyage with the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881
"I read the book Voyage With the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881 all in one go. What a sad story and all this because they neglected to administer a vaccine which was available. This book, a particular and a slightly repetitive journal, is a valuable addition to the Diary of Abraham Ulrikab. Both illustrate the Europeans’ exploitation attitude for commercial purposes and the curiosity of the Inuit who want to see the wonders of a country they cannot imagine." (Translation of the original text in French)
Dr. Denis Saint-Onge, O.C., Emeritus Professor, Department of Geography, University of Ottawa, ON
"WOW! What a great book. I read it in one go. It is really exciting and gives a wonderful view of the times."
Marianne Stenbaek, professor of Cultural Studies, English Department, McGill University, Montréal, QC
"I loved it very much!!! Like Johan Adrian started his journey, I slowly began my reading then I really got into it, carefully following the events. I was moved and saddened by the death of the 'Eskimos.' This diary is like a thriller we know the ending to, but we seek to understand the circumstances that led to their death." (Translation of the original text in French)
Sylvie Pinsonneault, Montréal, QC
This book can be read as a stand-alone but it is important to understand that it is being published as part of an endeavour that ultimately aims to repatriate to Canada the Inuit's human remains. Voyage With the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881 is therefore being published as a complement to the book In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab: The Events of 1880-1881 which provides the full account of the Inuit's story based on the primary source documents we were able to uncover by the time the book had to go to press.
This book can be ordered from your favorite bookstore or several online retailers. The English version also available in the EPUB format through online retailers.
Also available in French.
For more information or to see the press coverage Abraham's story has received: