PMBPhoto66 is a collection of 1558 black and white photographs of uneven quality of British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP) subjects over the 22 years from 1952 to 1974. Much of pre-Independent Solomon Islands is shown in the photos, each of the four administrative districts of the time (Central, Malaita, Eastern and Western) being represented.
The collection is ordered more or less by island name and dated by year. The dating is not always chronological and there are 80 undated images. Roughly speaking there are 388 images of the 1950s, 353 of the 1960s and 739 of the period 1970 to 1974. The majority of the 1950s images are from Malaita, Makira including Ugi, and islands of the “Far East” including Anuta, Vanikoro, the Duff Islands, the Reefs, Santa Cruz, Nukupu, Pileni, Lomlom, Fenualoa, Nibanga Temoa and Tikopia. The images from the 1960s include some of Santa Ysabel, Rennell and Russell Island, Choiseul, Gizo, Ontong Java and Savo. The majority in the 1970s are images of Guadalcanal but also include images from Choiseul, Kolombangara, New Georgia, Nggela/Gela and Tulagi.
Subjects include geographic features such as islands and atolls, volcanoes, coastlines, bays and landing beaches, plains, mountains and mountain ranges, rivers and lagoons and vegetations - for example, Lambi Bay on Guadalcanal’s weather coast, Graciosa Bay in Santa Cruz and Mt Alasa’a in Malaita. In the west Kolombangara Island, in the east Mt Tinakula, Savo Island in Central, and Mounts Tatuve, Gallego, and Popomanesiu on Guadalcanal, are all types of volcano, and each a subject in this collection. Mt Popomanesiu is of special environmental and/or conservation interest for its tropical rainforest vegetation.
Images of aspects of traditional Islander economic activity include gardening particularly of yams; fishing and fishing equipment; the construction of various types of canoe and paddles; and the making of utensils such as mortars and pestles for pounding, and containers; building houses and using leaves to weave walls, roofs, mats, and baskets; carvings; and caring for specific trees like the betel nut palm, for use on ceremonial occasions for example, and the impacts of storms and floods. Images show people at work (for example James No’oli using a backstrap loom, men making yam gardens, and women preparing cassava and making string).
Islander participation in economic and social development, including schools and training centres, is shown in many images: working for Christian missions (mainly Catholic and Anglican) and the government in a variety of roles including as headmen, administrators, police, carriers, guides, captains and crews of boats and ships, nurses, teachers, personal servants and staff in the houses of expatriates, and labourers (women and men) in forestry and logging, coconut plantations and the production of copra, building infrastructure including roads and bridges, and geological/mineral exploration for example on San Jorge for nickel mining and on Gold Ridge and in the Betilonga Basin on Guadalcanal. Images of early airstrips and the transport of goods by carrying on foot, on canoes, boats, and ships are shown, as are cruise ships, a part of the development of the tourist industry. Images of individuals include Silas Sitai as a young administrative assistant with Inspector Dick Richardson and Senior Clerk Walter Togonu; Headman Lumani of Paripao, Headman Chamatete and his wife Betizel as guides, and businessman Samuel Saki and his family. Pelise Moro, the leader of a movement on the weather (south) coast of Guadalcanal to return to customary ways of living, is also a subject and shown in regalia.
Art and cultural heritage subjects include petroglyphs on Guadalcanal, old terraces built to irrigate taro on New Georgia; old slit gongs used in ceremony in memory of Frederick Melford Campbell on Makira; sacred stones on Guadalcanal; graves on Choiseul; and the re-enactment on Santa Ysabel of the killing of Anglican Bishop Patteson at Nukapu in 1871. Images of men, women and children dancing; music including singing, panpipes and bands; jewellery including kap kaps, necklaces, earrings; woven headdresses and skirts; carved masks for ceremonies and welcomes for visitors. Images show Petero Cheni illustrating string figures and Moses and his wife making panpipes and baskets.
Special occasions are often the subject of images and include visits to Moro’s village on the weather coast of Guadalcanal in 1965 and 1969; a welcome to Ontong Java in 1960 at the start of which visitors walked on the hands held at waist height by women who were covered in coconut oil mixed with turmeric; police parades for the Queen’s Birthday on Makira in 1957; and welcomes to visiting High Commissioners to villages and schools. Father Adrian Smith and Bishop Stuyvenburg are shown at the opening of the new Roman Catholic Church at Makina.
Villages, government stations and Honiara are also subjects. Many villages are named and images show residents, including Gilbertese people and squatters, women working, houses and sometimes their contents, water supplies, social gatherings, flood damage, and meetings with government officials.
Throughout the collection there are glimpses of expatriates at work within the British colonial administration as High commissioners, District Officers and District Commissioners, including James Tedder, and Forestry Officers. There are also glimpses of James Tedder’s family, his wife Margaret and children, and some of their friends. Also as part of the collection are images of the houses they lived in and the recreational activities they enjoyed, such as bush walking to interesting sites, plant collecting and swimming. James Tedder and members of his family described/captioned the majority of the images.
The collection is complemented by a number of publications. As a guide to these images, James Tedder’s book A District Administrator in the Islands 1952-1974 Solomon Island Years is useful, although it does not have an index. There are also other Tedder collections in the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau catalogue and the Pacific Research Library, also at ANU.
Tedder, James L.O.