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Topside Guestbook: An Archival Object Study

Authors: Scott Kirsch*, UNC-Chapel Hill
Topics: Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, Asia
Keywords: Philippines, US colonialism, Baguio, W. Cameron Forbes, object study
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


"Topside" was the spectacular mountain home built by W. Cameron Forbes (with the help of architect Pierce Anderson) in Baguio, the American colonial "summer capital" of the Philippines in the early twentieth century during Forbes' tenure as Secretary of Commerce and Police and then as Governor-General. The guestbook (1906-1912) is an interesting and useful resource for understanding the experiences of American colonials in the Philippines. It contains signed pages which allow us to reconstruct what individuals or groups were staying together on various weekend or holiday visits to Topside, including elite Filipinos as well as Americans, and is full of snapshots and posed photographs, as well as little poems, jokes, and illustrations added by guests. As an object of material culture, the guestbook collects "authorship" in different hands and places them together in Baguio at an important - but in America, largely forgotten -- imperial moment.

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