Northwestern University has put online more than 7,000 rare photographs of East Africa that document the European colonization of the area from 1860 through 1960.
The images made available to the public today in the Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs were purchased by the university in 2002 for an undisclosed price.
David L. Easterbrook, curator of the university’s Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, said the collection contains photographs and postcards showing how Europeans used the landscape for commercial purposes, as well as images made by anthropologists that focuse on the daily lives of East Africans. The combination helps document how European colonization changed the area, as well as what existed before the Europeans arrived.
The visual record “adds to a written record,” Mr. Easterbrook said. The pictures “give us an opportunity to look at Africa in a different time.”
While several libraries have smaller galleries that include photographs of East Africa during this period, Mr. Easterbrook said Northwestern’s is the first large collection available online. The image-search feature on the Web site is extensive, tagging both dates and keywords. The Institute of Museum and Library Services helped cover the cost of digitizing the photographs.
The Web site was designed to be used by students as young as age 5. It has links to other resources as well as lesson plans and assignments for students at all levels. —Marc Beja