Scope and Contents
The collection includes approximately 20,000 black-and-white photographic prints, most ranging in size between 3x5 and 5x7 inches. The verso of many of the prints have English or French captions affixed to them. Crop marks and comments occasionally appear on the prints.
The original arrangment of the collection, which has been retained, was intended to facilitate the retrieval of images for the society's publications, such as White Fathers Magazine. The collection is divided into four series: 1) African prints arranged by subject; 2) prints of the society's missionaries arranged by name; 3) photographs of Europe and America, including the Washington, D.C. headquarters and its staff; and 4) miscellaneous materials, including commercial postcard collections in their original wrappings, photographic negatives (many arranged by photographer's name) and unlabeled rolls of negatives. This register describes only the photographs of Africa in Series 1, which comprise about 80% of the collection. The subject headings reproduced here were typed verbatim from the original file separaters. The abbreviation s.f. refers to a subject file, while l.f. refers to a large file or broad category of prints. [The archivist's annotations are enclosed in square brackets.]
The photographs depict a wide variety of themes and subjects. Catholic religious life is well represented in the collection. Native African religious practices are also represented, but are found under subject headings such as Witch Doctors Witch Craft. A large number of images relate to education, construction projects, handicrafts, flora and fauna. African personalities, both religious and secular, are also depicted. Countries represented include: Algeria, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rhodesia (check), Rwanda (Ruanda-Urundi), Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia The greatest number of prints concern Ghana, followed by Tanzania. A smaller number of prints concern Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique and Senegal.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.