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African Historical Photographs: African Historical Photographs, A - L

African historical photographs, postcards, posters from archives and libraries worldwide.

African Historical Photographs, A - L

Africa in the Photobook
"a website initiated in 2015 by photographer and (photo) historian Ben Krewinkel"
Early albums -  19th and early 20th Century photographic albums

Africa through a lens: The National Archives - United Kingdom
Photographs from 1860s to present covering from the Scramble for Africa, the colonial era, and the era of independence. Holdings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office photographic collection housed in the National Archives.  Users can add comments on the photographs. Africa Through a Lens is part of the National Archives' World Through a Lens collection. Maintained by the United Kingdom, National Archives. [KF]

African Studies Centre Library, Leidan, Netherland
"Collections include 'anthropological' photos from Sierra Leone in the 1930s by Professor Sjoerd Hofstra popular because of the Poro connection, and photographs by Roel Coutinho (Senegal and Guinea Bissau in the 1970s), containing rare images of the liberation movement in the field and photos of the first president and prime-minister of Guinea Bissau...."

African Studies Library, Leiden, The Netherlands - Guinea-Bissau and Senegal 1973-1974 (Coutinho Collection) 
Photographs by Prof. Roel Coutinho, M.D. who worked in the liberated areas of Guinea-Bissau and Senegal in 1973 and 1974, during the final year of the war of independence waged by the PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde). Topics - Daily life, Dance and parties, Hospitals, Medical images, PAIGC soldiers and weapons, People's shops, Schools, Ziguinchor (Senegal) hospital, Cuban medical personnel, Guinea-Bissau's first President Luis Cabral and its first Prime Minister Francisco Mendes. 750 of the 1,250 photographs are online; these can be freely used per Creative Commons license. The photographs are deposited in the African Studies Library, Leiden, The Netherlands.  [KF]

Alamy Stock Photo
Licenses use of their photographs and videos. Photograph prices range from US $45 for personal use. Has French colonial empire photographs.  Their U.S. office is in Brooklyn.

American Museum of Natural History. Congo Expedition, May 1909-November 1915 [Historical Photographs]
"In 1909,...Herbert Lang and James Chapin set sail for the Belgian Congo....By the time they sailed home five and one-half years later, they had collected tons of precious zoological and anthropological specimens..."

  • An introductory, multimedia slide show.
  • Diaries of James Chapin. ("At age 19, in 1909, James Chapin left New York for northeastern Congo where he served as Herbert Lang's assistant for the next five years. Chapin was interested in many aspects of Africa's natural history. Birds, however, were his passion, a fact borne out by these diaries.")
  • Niographies of James Paul Chapin and Herbert Lang, photographs (villages, primates), the watercolors of James Chapin including Congo mural paintings, birds, fish, reptiles, mammels,
  • excerpts from "African Reflections: Art from Northeastern Zaire," by Enid Schildkrout and Curtis A. Keim (AMNH and University of Washington Press, 1990) including their photographs of Congo musical instruments.
  • "160 publications including 120 American Museum of Natural History publications based on the material collected by the 1909-1915 Congo Expedition, 12 British Museum publications by Barry Bolton on Congo ants, 11 publications on African ants by the South African Museum and affiliated organizations, and 17 Congo-related World Conservation Union (IUCN) publications."
  • A central African map with layers. Select which features will appear on the map: lakes, cities, roads, railroads, forest, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, etc., a map of Chapin and Lang's travels.
  • Historic maps reflecting the "development of European knowledge of African geography from 1562 through 1940." Reproduced with permission of the New York Public Library and the British Library.
  • Audio (requires sound card, headset or speakers) and video clips of the Belgian Congo Records made by the "adventurer and filmmaker Armand Denis during his 1934-35 cross-Africa expedition. They were among the first recordings made of the sounds of the central Congo. The Babiara people, whose songs may be heard..... are one of the four main tribal groups who occupy the Ituri Forest." The video clip shows a traditional Mangbetu dance.
  • A bibliographic essay on sources by Paula Willey, specially prepared bibliographies on Congo Conservation (314 citations), Description & Travel (1218 citations), Maps & Atlases (220 citations).
  • Newspaper Headlines, 1880-1916 about the Congo from the New York Times and the New York Herald. [KF]

Archive of Malian Photography
Project to preserve, digitize, and catalog photographic archival collections in Mali. View the photographs of photographers Mamadou Cissé, Adama Kouyaté, Abdourahmane Sakaly, Malick Sidibé, Tijani Sitou. Photographs are from the 1940s-1990s. Includes  biographies of the photographers. Project Director is Dr. Candace Keller, Michigan State University. Based in Bamako, Mali.

Art Institute of Chicago. David Goldblatt : No ulterior motive
Dec 2, 2023–Mar 25, 2024. "This exhibition spans the seven decades of Goldblatt’s career,..."

Artnet - Jurgen Schadeberg
Subscription required. Many universities subscribe. Photographs of apartheid era South Africa including Nelson Mandela. Schadeberg was a German photographer who immigrated to South Africa and became Head of the Photographic Department at Drum Magazine, Johannesburg, South Africa.

ARTSTOR Public Collections
Open to the public. 1.3 million freely accessible images, videos, documents, and audio files from library special collections, faculty research, and institutional history materials,

Bailey's African History Archive
Thirty years of photographs from South Africa's Drum magazine. Contents include Drum magazine ads, covers, staff members, social histories, stories. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Historical currency for African countries. For ex has 2001 currency with the image of : Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and 1939 French West Africa currency. [KF]

Basel Mission Archive
Over 25,000 images from the Basel Mission Archive with 6,100 images from Cameroon and 5,900 images from Ghana "dating from 1860 (in the case of Ghana) or 1885 (in the case of Cameroon) to ca. 1945." Includes the "Basel Mission's "sample book" of engravings used in its publications in the 19th century." "These were often "drawn" very exactly from photographs and increase the number of images of direct interest to students of Africa...". The web-site includes a substantialessay in interpretation of the use of photographs for themes of interest to historians, written by Emmanuel Akyeampong. Search the image database by Proper name, Institution name, Photographer / Photo Studio, Theme, Geography.

Blake, Paul - Photos of Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo
Includes photos of the Methodist Church in Angola, 1885-1930 and 1900-1961, the Institut Medical Evangelique (IME) de Kimpese, Congo, 1966 and photos of the Blake Family in Portugal and Angola 1947-1957. "My parents, Doris and Melvin Blake, were Methodist missionaries in Angola 1948-1956, and then my father was Secretary for Africa at the Board of Missions until 1968. I was 13 when I left Angola.

British Library. Images Online
Antiquarian maps, historical personages, etc. The Visual Arts Collection includes photographs, paintings, prints, furniture.

British Pathe Film Archive
A rich video news archive covering historical events, sport, social history and entertainment from 1896 to 1976. The entire film collection is on YouTube. See the YouTube Channel. Obtain free low resolution video clips after the free registration. High resolution copies for PowerPoint Presentations and Web Publishing require a license fee.* The purpose of the site is mainly educational use. Commercial users who wish to order a videotape or DVD must order through a British Pathe librarian. The original film is 35mm. The free downloaded files may be e-mailed to others. Video of Princess Elizabeth's 1952 Kenya visit.  [KF]

Companhia de Moçambique
In Portuguese. "Retratos da África Oriental Portuguesa" Descriptions of photographs from Álbuns Fotográficos e Descritivos da Colónia de Moçambique, by José dos Santos Rufino (1929). Links to other Mozambique blogs. On the Blogger web site. [KF]

Crawfurd, Jacob
Jacob Crawfurd's 100 photographs of Cameroon, East Africa slide show and video clips, a panorama photograph of the valley in Bafang, Cameroon, plus 1937 historical photographs (no captions). Crawfurd, from Denmark, also heads JCJ Film, a one-man production company producing documentaries and short features. Learn about his video short story, Low Tide, with the Kizingo Arts Troupe, a group of 25 young Kenyan artists based in Mombasa, who perform Malaika.

[Curtin] Philip Curtin Collection
Black and white photographs from the 1960s of the Senegambia, by History Professor Philip Curtin. Part of the African Online Digital Library.

Davies, Rick - Mogadishu Images from the Past
"A cartographic and photographic record of Mogadishu, Somalia, from the late 18th century to 1990. This page has been created and maintained by Rick Davies (Ph.D.), a resident of the city in the 1980s." Photographs, drawings, maps with commentary and background. Dr. Davies, an Australian, is a Monitoring and Evaluation consultant in Cambridge, U.K. See related websites.

Die Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (DKG) Bildarchiv
In English and German. The Stadt- und Universit?tsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main has put on-line a large keyword searchable database of colonial era photographs, 1822-1936, from the archives of the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft [German Colonial Society], a major organization behind Germany's colonial expansion. Covers Namibia, Tanzania, Cameroon, Togo, etc.  One can click on the small photos to see a larger version. The database can be searched by Region, Subject Areas, Keyword, Person, Photographer, People. The collection, of thousands of photographs, is also being microfilmed for preservation. [B.Lawrance and KF]

Digital Benin
Site about the Benin artefacts held by museums worldwide which were taken from Africa. Images of objects from the various museums. "data from 131 institutions across twenty countries that currently hold 5,246 historic Benin objects can be searched, filtered, studied and viewed."  Find objects by Provenance. Interactive maps show how many objects are held by each world museum and Benin Kingdom landmarksOral histories from "palace chiefs, title holders, and village and family elders to scholars, practitioners, and performing artists." History of the Benin Kingdom.  Bibliography.  Benin language cards depict objects with QR codes to scan to learn more about the objects.  110 page Benin colouring book. [KF]

France. Bibliotheque nationale. Gallica
"Gallica propose un accès à 70 000 ouvrages numérisés, à plus de 80 000 images et à plusieurs dizaines d'heures de ressources sonores." Images and full text from 19th century books and journals. Included are illustrations from over 16 African travel and ethnographic books from the Library of the Musee de l'Homme. For example, portraits of Senegalese women are in Esquisses s?n?galaises, Physionomie du pays, Peuplades, Commerce, Religions, Pass? et avenir, R?cits et l?gendes [Paris : P. Bertrand , 1853]. [KF]

France. Centre des Archives d' Outre- Mer ( Aix-en-Provence ) - Photograph Database, Ulysse
In French. The database, Ulysse has hundreds of photographs, posters, and eventually maps. Search under region and country. "Commencée en 2002, cette base a pour objectif de rendre progressivement accessibles les photographies isolées ou en albums, les cartes postales, les affiches, les dessins et gravures, les cartes et plans." Covers the 17th to mid 20th centuries.

Garvey - Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers Project
Project directed by Robert A. Hill at the James S. Coleman African Studies Center, UCLA. Has the text of the book jackets, the introductions and sample documents for the African series, 1913-1945, American series, and Caribbean series. Has photographs including the Black Star Line and sound files of two speeches by Garvey, the only known recordings of his voice. [KF]

Getty Images
Contemporary and historical photographs, video, music. Single images range from $175-$499. Music requires their Premium Access Plan. Formerly Corbis.

Google Image Search
Large resource.  A search on Haile Sellassie retrieved many photographs.  Other examples - Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere,  ibeji (twin figures).

Hoover Institution - Archives - Posters
Some of their posters are online. Under Formats, the first item is Posters. Click on View All.  On the left is a Menu of Posters by Place of Origin. Click on MORE to see all the countries. Examples - South Africa 1963, Mozambique 72, Namibia 37, Somalia 34, Nigeria 31

Illustrated London News  Stanford University users link for the Licensed database of the former illustrated newspaper.

Iluminando Vidas - Fotografia Mocambicana 1950-2001, Ricardo Rangel & the Next Generation
Site has closed. The Internet Archive has archived the site. Archived sites from 2015 and earlier have the content. From 2016 and following are taken over by another site. An exhibition of Mozambique photography from 1950 to 2001 by Ricardo Rangel, his proteges, Kok Nam and others. Daily life in Mozambique from colonial times to the present. Over 100 black and white photographs. Photographers' biographies, self portraits. An exhibition catalog was published. Historical timeline. [KF]*/

Images du passé en Afrique de l'Ouest
Images of old postcards depicting West Africa - Senegal (Dakar, Saint Louis, Ziguinchor), Dahomey, Haute Volta, Guinea (Conakry), Côte d'Ivoire, Soudan français, Niger, Cameroun, Freetown, Chad (Fort Lamy), Togo (Lomé, Atakpamé), Gold Coast (Accra, Kumasi). Maintained by Olivier Blot, a journalist and editor.

Imperial War Museum
The Museum's Photograph Archive holds over six million images. The largest number are on World Wars I and II including the contribution of Commonwealth countries.  German East Africa Campaign. See their Search function to find selected resources .

Institut Fondemental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN) - Photographs
A selection of photographs from the IFAN collection - hairstyles, ceremonies, dress/adornment, Faidherbe, etc. IFAN, in Dakar, Senegal, was founded in 1939. [KF]

Istituto Luce Cinecittà
Historical film archive from Italy. Has Reparto Africa Orientale Italiana (1935-1938), photographs of "Italy's colonial enterprise in Ethiopia."

  • Videos from the 1920s to 1990s. Some on Ethiopia include the coronation of Tafari Makonnen, Mussolini visiting colonial troops, visits of Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani to Ethiopia, visit of Attilio Teruzzi to Somalia, Haile Selassie I, in 1952 and his 1970 visit to Rome, visit of Ethiopian Prince Assan Wessen to Paris (he speaks briefly). Site maintained by the Italian Government, Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo. Based in Rome. [KF]

ITN Archive
"ITN Archive is one of the largest moving picture archives in the world with over 300,000 hours of material. With material dating back to 1896, the holdings comprise of all of ITN's output since 1955, the entire Reuters Television Library, the British Pathe News Archive and the Channel 4 Television archive. ITN Archive includes historic newsreel footage, news agency material, rushes (b-roll) and broadcast news items from 1896 to the present day. Content includes: British Pathe 1896 - 1970, Gaumont Graphic 1910 - 1932, Empire News Bulletin 1926-1930, British Paramount News 1931-1957, Gaumont British 1929-1959, Universal News 1930-1949, Visnews 1957-1992, Reuters Television 1992 - present day, ITN 1955 - present day, Channel 4 Television 1982 - present day."

[JonesG. I. Jones Photographic Archive of Southeastern Nigerian Art and Culture
Photographs taken in the 1930s by the late Gwilym Iwan Jones, Dept. of Social Anthropology, Cambridge Univ., on a web site produced by Southern Illinois Univ. anthropology professor, John C. McCall with Ursula Jones. Depicts the art and culture of the Ibibio, Igbo, Ijo, and Ogoni speaking poeple (Nigeria). Includes masks, household objects, shrines, musical instruments. architecture, has links to Nigeria and Igbo sites and McCall's course syllabi.

Kaplan, Marion - Photographs
Kaplan writes - "Born in London, I lived as photojournalist and writer in Africa for twenty years."  Includes photos of Cape Verde, Seychelles, South Africa, arab dhows, Ghana, Kenya, RwandaSudan, Uganda, political figures (Bokassa, Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta, Idi Amin), wild animals, etc..

Kenya National Archives. Mashujaa Wetu: Heroes of the Kenyan Nation
Slide show of Kenyan history. Use your computer's arrow keys to navigate. Text and photographs from the Kenya National Archives. Hosted by Google's Cultural Institute. 

Lafayette Negative Archive at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Photographs of Ethiopia including Ras Makonnen and his retinue, part of "...a collection of approximately 3,500 negatives dating from the 1880's to the 1930's" from a Dublin, Ireland photography studio founded in 1880. Ras Makönnen was an Ethiopian General & Governor of Harar and father of Emperor Haile Sellasie I. Has an account of "The Visit to England in 1902 of Ras Makonnen of Ethiopia" for the Coronation of King Edward VII. Detailed descriptions of photos.

Liberia Past and Present
Political and economic history of Liberia, including cultural affairs, from 1822 to date. Includes a chronology of Liberia's presidents with biographical information, maps, photographs (19th c. colonists), section on Liberian money with images, a bibliography. Maintained by Dr. Fred Van Der Kraaij whose dissertation was on the role of foreign investments in the development of Liberia 1900-1977, published as "The open door policy of Liberia : an economic history of modern Liberia ." (1983). [KF]

Library of Congress - African Historic Postcard Collection
The Library of Congress has over 2000 Africa related historic postcards covering from 1895 to 1960. If the screen looks blank, wait for the photos to load.  Older site.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
"55,000 images related to Sub-Saharan Africa" Thumbnails only online for most images. Most higher resolution images viewable only at the Library of Congress. Many historical photographs such as Emperor Haile Sellassie with his pet dog, Bull; "Charles de Gaulle, chief of the Free France, is welcomed to Chad by Govenor-General Eboue of Free French Africa" LC owns the Look Magazine Photograph Collection among others. Includes posters such as "Journée de l'armée d'Afrique et des troupes coloniales" by Lucien Jonas, [KF]