The Colonial Picture Archive comprises the image collection of the “German Colonial Society” (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft), now located at Frankfurt University Library, Germany, and a collection of photographs, photo albums and postcards owned by the Sam Cohen Library, Swakopmund, Namibia. Over 50.000 digitized historical pictures cover the whole of Africa.
Johannesburg: 061-0712-18, 018-0120-30, PA10_061
The integration of the Colonial Picture Archive into the cross search of ilissAfrica makes available much more visual material. While this source material is mainly of interest for academic historians and social anthropologists, all other specialists might profit at least in the way, that searching with ilissAfrica gets more entertaining. Laborious bibliographic research is made a bit more appealing and the visual presentation of the pictures fits very well to the new world of social media, where sharing photographs is crucial.
Image Collection of the “German Colonial Society”
Photographer E. Hecker in Ovamboland, A_0ii_6874
The “German Colonial Society” was founded in 1887. For their propaganda activities members collected photographs, which were used to illustrate public lectures in Germany. Already, in the 1880s lectures were sometimes accompanied by privately owned glass slides belonging to the guest speaker. In 1891, this induced the Society to form their own image collection – beginning with about 100 large format black and white slides. Bequests from members and friends of the society as well as the transfer of originals or duplicates from the, now largely destroyed, official, commercial, and private collections rapidly increased the stock. Due to National Socialist enforcement, the society was integrated, together with its collections, organs, and members, with the German “Reichskolonialbund” (dissolved in 1943).
Sammlung Julius Hermann Schott (1888-1956) von Lieselotte Gräfin Bülow von Dennewitz, Tanzania, 1910-1912
There are pictures of landscapes, plants, agriculture, chase, animals, houses, cities, streets, schools, missions, trade, transport, police, administration, culture and people. Some seem to have a documentary character, some explicit the curiosity and fascination of the exotic. Appropriation, mastery, and self-reassurement of the claimed superior European culture is visible in many pictures (like the one on the left). While the Europeans often are known by name, the local people remain nameless. In spite of all this, the collection of images offers invaluable visual source material from African countries, even if the pictures were taken and used in a prejudiced colonial context.
With the combined search in ilissAfrica it is possible to look for literature (books, articles, electronic dissertations and other online documents), for websites and for historical images on a given subject. If one wants to know more on a certain ethnic group, one will find not only the academic literature and websites on the group but also images of the people. The following searches give examples of the potential of this cross search:
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