In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab: The events of 1880-1881
by France Rivet
Translation of Abraham's and Johan Adrian Jacobsen's diaries by Hartmut Lutz
344 pages / 100 photographs
Hoping to improve his family’s living conditions, in August 1880, Abraham, a 35-year-old Inuk living in the small community of Hebron in Northern Labrador, agreed to head to Europe to become the latest “exotic” attraction in the ethnographic shows organized by Carl Hagenbeck, a menagerie owner and pioneer of 'human zoos.' Accompanied by his wife, their two young daughters, and a few countrymen, the group of eight was exhibited in zoos in Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Krefeld and Paris. Very soon, the Inuit realized their coming to Europe was a mistake and they longed to return home to Labrador.
"It is too long until the year is over because we would very much like to return to our country, because we are unable to stay here forever, yes indeed, it is impossible!," wrote Abraham in the diary he kept during his journey.
Sadly, none of the Inuit saw their homeland again, all were killed by smallpox less than four months after setting foot in Europe.
Based on four years of research, the book In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab finally reveals the truth about the fate of the Inuit’s remains, and brings to light an opportunity to change the course of history: 134 years after the death of Abraham, Maria, Nuggasak, Paingu, Tigianniak, Tobias, Sara and Ulrike, their wish to come home to Labrador could eventually become a reality!
The historical account will enable you to:
- Follow the Inuit's journey step by step from them being recruited in Labrador to their death in Europe.
- Discover how their remains ended up in museums and whether or not these remains were exhibited in Paris.
- Read Abraham's own moving words. Of the 35,000 individuals who were exhibited in Europe from the 1870s to the 1930s, Abraham is one of a handful to have left notes describing his experience as an "exhibit." See these 19th century "human zoos" from the perspective of someone who, contrary to what the Europeans were expecting, was literate, educated and could reflect on these civilized people.
- Understand the events through the writings of the main actors of the 19th century: Johan Adrian Jacobsen; the journalists who reported on the Inuit's tour; the members of the Moravian community who opposed Abraham's departure or who visited him at the Berlin zoo; the anthropologists who studied the Inuit either before or after their death; the physicians who admitted the Inuit to the Paris hospital or performed the autopsies; the police officials who authorized the exhumation of the remains, etc.
- Read the full report of the commission of inquiry into the Inuit's death. Discover their conclusions as to where the Inuit were infected by smallpox, what could have been done to prevent their contamination, and who was to blame.
- Put faces on most of the individuals who had a role to play in the Inuit's story through the 100 photos and illustrations contained in the book.
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ABRAHAM ULRIKAB
Congratulations on your book [...] What I really like about it, apart from the good research and documentation, as well as the pictures introducing all persons and places involved, is the fact that you present the historical facts from all sides, but do not judge.
Dr. Hilke Thode-Arora, anthropologist, specializing in ethnographic shows in the colonial period, Munich, Germany
I wanted to congratulate you most sincerely for the work you did on Abraham Ulrikab. If it had been a PhD thesis, I would have gladly granted you the Cum Laude designation. Of all the studies I have read about the Jardin d'acclimatation's 'visitors,' yours is the most thorough and by far the best. (Translation of the original text in French)
Gérard Lévy, Expert-merchant – photography from its origins to 1940 (specializing in the exhibitions held at the Jardin d’acclimatation), Paris, France
It's really a very comprehensive work with references that leave us speechless. [...] Congratulations, France! In your own way, you have allowed for the truth to be known and for the Inuit community to get back a part of its history. (Translation of the original text in French)
Raymonde Arsenault, Maria, Quebec
I finished reading In the footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab and it was a pleasure to follow the Inuit's journey. It was indeed very interesting, although a little disturbing sometimes. But realizing that this was the way to do things at the time, I am pleased that a century later, and in some respects, humanity nonetheless somewhat evolved.
I was also impressed by the amount of work, research and trips you made to gather all this information which you transmit to us so generously in your book. I thank you. (Translation of the original text in French)
Louise R., Gatineau, Quebec
This book can be ordered from your favorite bookstore. The English version also available in the EPUB format through several online retailers.
Also available in French.
Book's Facebook Page: @InTheFootstepsofAbrahamUlrikab
For more information or to see the press coverage Abraham's story has received: