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Collection Africana Historic Postcard Collection

About this Collection

The African Section of the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division has amassed a unique collection of more than 7000 historical photographic postcards documenting an important visual record of Africa and its people during the historically intensive years of European colonialism, from 1895 to 1960.

The Africana Historic Postcard Collection has significant value for researchers and students working on sub-Saharan Africa’s colonial life and cultural history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to documenting representations of African life from a specific period of time, postcard images also chronicle the transformation of cultural, political and social landscapes in the African continent.

Most of the postcard imagery from the African colonies was taken by military and colonial officials, missionary workers and professional photographers. Images unique to the collection include the works of Ukrainian-born postcard photographer-producer Casimir Zagourski (1883-1944) and prolific French photographer and ethnographer Francois Edmond Fortier (1862-1928) who disseminated the most comprehensive photographic record of West Africa. African postcard photographers include notable names such as Alphonso Lisk-Carew from Sierra Leone, Demba N’Diaye from Senegal, W.S. Johnston from Gold Coast (now Ghana) or Sierra Leone, F.W.H. Arkurst from Gold Coast, Frederick Grant from Gold Coast, N. Walwin Holm from Gold Coast and Alex Agbablo Accolatse from Togo.