American Colony members after the arrival
of the Swedes,
photographed in front of
the Tombs of the Kings, ca.
AMERICAN COLONY AT WORK
The community grew over the years. Visiting Chicago in 1894,
Anna Spafford made contact with Olaf Henrik Larsson, the
leader of the Swedish Evangelical Church. Inspired by Anna's
words and full of messianic fervor, the Swedes from Chicago
decided to join Anna on her trip back to Jerusalem. Larsson
also exhorted his relations and friends in Nas, Sweden, to
go immediately to Jerusalem. As a result, thirty-eight adults
and seventeen children sold all their possessions and set
off for the Holy Land to join the Colony, arriving there
in July 1896.
The Colony, now numbering 150, moved to the large house
of a wealthy Arab landowner outside the city walls. The extensive
land attached to the house was quickly put to use for the
Colony's support. Part of the building was used as a hostel
for their frequent visitors from Europe and America. A small
farm developed with cows and pigs, a butchery, a dairy, a
bakery, a carpenter's shop, and a smithy. The American Colony
Store provided additional support through the sale of images,
souvenirs, artifacts and archaeological objects worldwide.
The American Colony at Work
When the Swedes, who eventually joined the American
Colony, left for Jerusalem, they brought their carpentry
tools, hand looms, knitting machines and many farm
implements with them. This photo of Horatio Spafford
is encased in a frame crafted by the American Colony
Carpentry Shop. Colony members also collected specimens
of the flowers mentioned in the Bible that they pressed
and pasted on cards and in albums and books to sell
to tourists and pilgrims. Members fashioned this
memoriam for Horatio when he died in 1888, at the
age of sixty.
"In Memoriam" [to Horatio Spafford],
decorated with pressed flowers
Manuscript Division (20)
Wooden frame with Horatio
Manuscript Division (23)
American Colony (S. Narinsky, photographer).
Assorted postcards of the Holy Land.
Card 1 - Card
2 - Card 3
Card 4 - Card
5 - Card 6
Palestine: Jamal Bros., ca. 1921. Rotary photogravures.
Manuscript Division (22 a-f)
Photographic Department of the American
In 1898, the Colony bought an old camera to document
the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to Jerusalem.
From this humble beginning, the photographic studio
became world famous for the thousands of images it
produced of the Holy Land and the Middle East. Among
the Colony members who worked in the studio were Lewis
Larsson, Lars Lind, John Whiting, Frank Baldwin, and
Eric Matson, whose photographic archive is housed in
the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Inventory of Antiquities
In 1904 Bertha Spafford married Frederick Vester,
whose father's curio shop in Jerusalem had recently
been bought by the American Colony. Renamed "Fr. Vester & Co.,
The American Colony Store," the business greatly expanded
its clientele and range of offerings to include photographs
and collections of antiquities as shown in this inventory
of ancient glass and pottery sold to the University
of Pennsylvania Museum.
Inventory of antiquities
sent to Dr. Gordon,
University Museum, September 4, 1913.
Carbon typescript on letterhead.
Manuscript Division (21)
" American Colony Founded in Jerusalem by Native
published in the Troy Times (December 9, 1916)
in an American Colony scrapbook kept between 1881 and 1930.
Manuscript Division (9)
American Colony Scrapbook
In this scrapbook the Colony collected articles and
stories that were published about its members between
1881 and 1930. In this article from the Troy Times (New
York) dated December 9, 1916, the history of the Colony's
settlement in Jerusalem and the various activities
of the Colony are described. As a new addition to the
Library's collections, this scrapbook, like many items
in the American Colony-Vester Collection, will receive
conservation attention to preserve it for posterity.