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Collection Matson (G. Eric and Edith) Photograph Collection

Related Resources

In the Library of Congress

  • Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (P&P)
    101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4730

  • Photographs illustrating biblical themes and the Middle East
    Call number: LOT 2924
    Online record: /item/2005682716/
  • Photographs of Palestine
    Call number: LOT 13754
    Online record: /item/2006675875/
  • Photographic postcards of the Middle East
    Call number: LOT 13755
    Online record: /item/2006676290/
  • Photographs of Palestine and Jordan
    Call number: LOT 13756
    Online record: /item/2006675884/
  • Aerial photographs of the Middle East
    Call number: LOT 13757
    Online record: /item/2006676299/
  • Photographs of locust plagues in Palestine
    Call number: LOT 13758
    Online record: /item/2006676315/
  • Photographs of Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq
    Call number: LOT 13759
    Online record: /item/2006684259
  • Photographs of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey
    Call number: LOT 13760
    Online record: /item/2006675896/
  • Photographs of Palestine and portraits
    Call number: LOT 13761
    Online record: /item/2006684261/
  • Photographs of a Y.M.C.A. tableaux of the Christmas story
    Call number: LOT 13762
    Online record: /item/2006676284/
  • Cedar trees in Lebanon
    Call number: LOT 13763
    Online record: /item/2006676346/
  • Photographs from the story of "Ruth, the Moabitess"
    Call number: LOT 13764
    Online record: /item/2006684264/
  • Aerial photographs of Palestine
    Call number: LOT 13812
    Online record: /item/2006690400/
  • Photographs of Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq
    Call number: LOT 13813
    Online record: /item/2006690404/
  • Photographs of Africa
    Call number: LOT 13814
    Online record: /item/2006690445/
  • Hand-colored photographs of the Holy Land
    Call number: LOT 14025
    Online record: /item/2010646354/

Color slides

Additional slides are scanned and available.

Pictorial record of thirty-five years of progress in Palestine (Israel), 1918-1935
Call number: LOT 6603
Online record: /item/2005689860/

Slide sets of the Middle East
Call number: LOT 11284
Online record: /item/2005682715/


Call number: LOTs 11062-11086 and 11089-11111

A set of eleven albums used by the Matson Photo Service in their Jerusalem store which includes cropped photographs from 5,000 of the negatives. These cropped photographs were published in The Middle East in Pictures (DS 44.5.M37 1980 P&P Ref.) Most of the negatives can be found online.

Air views of Palestine
Call number: LOT 12016
Online record: /item/2004678828/

Easter services in Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Call number: LOT 13765
Online record: /item/2006675890/

Textual records

Diaries of G. Eric Matson, 1908-1946
Call number: LOT 12021
Online record: /item/2004667186/

Original diaries are in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division

Unprocessed materials

PR 06 CN 139: Glass and film negatives of Matson family, friends and associates

PR09 CN 139: Copy prints of Matson negatives made by Eric Matson and the Library of Congress

To make a request, see "Access to Unprocessed Materials,"

Visual materials from the John D. Whiting collection (John D. Whiting collection)

Whiting, a businessman, writer and photographer, was a member of the American Colony and worked with the American Colony Photo Department and Matson Photo Service. See: [link to Whiting collection profile]

Elsewhere in the Library of Congress

Manuscript Division:

G. Eric Matson papers:

Contains diaries, correspondence files (1946-1977), and a business ledger.

John D. Whiting Papers: or

Includes diaries, correspondence, subject files, caption lists, photographs and albums including one of the 1915 locust plague in Palestine.

New acquisitions:

John D. Whiting papers:

American Colony of Jerusalem Papers:

Virtual exhibit:

The American Colony in Jerusalem:

Motion picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division:

Three color films.

Related Resources Outside the Library of Congress

NOTE: The Library of Congress does not maintain Internet sites listed below. Users should direct concerns about these links to their respective site administrators or webmasters.

The American Colony and Matson Photo Service widely marketed and distributed their photographs. In Jerusalem, Israel, photographs created by the American Colony are to be found at:

  • The Israel State Archive
  • The Israel Museum
  • The Jewish National University Library, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • private collections.

In the United States, the following archives, libraries, and institutions possess substantial Middle East holdings, including American Colony/Matson Photo Service images:

National Geographic Society
National Geographic Image Collection
URL: External

The archives of the National Geographic Society contain original photographs published in volumes 24, 25, 28, 37, 50, 56, 67, 71, 76, and 78 of the magazine between January 1913 and December 1940. There also are approximately 400 unpublished gelatin silver photographs by American Colony photographers during 1926-1928. Special arrangements must be made through their commercial outlet for access to these photographs.

George Eastman House
Photography Collection
URL: External
Online display of American Colony lantern slides:

This archive holds a large collection of American Colony lantern slides, 296 of which are available online.

Fine Arts Library, Harvard University
Fogg Art Museum
Contact: Jeff Spurr, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture
URLs: Fogg Art Museum: External

Harvard Semitic Museum Photographic Archives: External

The general architecture collections of the Historical Photographs and Special Visual Collections Department, which feature the Middle East, include 61 American Colony photographic prints and other Matson materials. The Harvard Semitic Museum Photographic Archives contain 89 vintage photographs and 39 lantern slides by the American Colony Photo Department

Selected Bibliography

The American Colony | Photographers | The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection

The American Colony

  • Dudman, Helga, and Ruth Kark. The American Colony: Scenes from a Jerusalem Saga. Jerusalem: Carta Jerusalem, 1998. LC Call Number: BV4406.9. D83 1998
    A highly readable narrative, which acknowledges the varying slants found in other histories.
  • Geniesse, Jane Fletcher. American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem. New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, c2008. LC Call Number: BV4406.9.G46 2008
    Details the life of Anna Spafford and her family in America and Jerusalem and the religious movements which influenced the American Colony.
  • Lagerlöf, Selma. Jerusalem. London: W. Heinemann, 1903. LC Call Number: PZ3.L136 J
    A fictionalized account of the American Colony, which won its Swedish author the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909; also made into a movie with the same title in 1996.
  • Larsson, Edith. Dalafolk in the Holy Land. Stockholm: Naturoch Culture, 1957. (Published in Swedish, original manuscript in English in Helga Dudman Collection, Tiberias, Israel.) Not in Library of Congress
    Recounts the history of the Colony from the viewpoint of the early Swedish settlers.
  • Larsson, Theo. Seven Passports for Palestine; Sixy Years in the Levant. Longfield, Sussex: Longfield Publishing Company, 1995. LC Call Number: BV4406.9 .L38 1995
    Describes the origins of the Colony and its politics against the backdrop of the 20th-century struggle for Palestine, written by the son of photographer Lewis Larsson.
  • Matsson [sic], Eric Dinsmore. The American Colony of Jerusalem: A Brief Outline. LC Call Number: BV4406.9.M38 1992
    Synopsis of events taken from Swedish sources by a nephew of Eric Matson, contains a list of Swedes who joined the Colony in three migrations and a bibliography.
  • Tveit, Odd Karsten. Annas Hus: En Beretning fra Stavanger til Jerusalem. (Anna's House: A Story from Stavanger to Jerusalem) Oslo : Cappelen, c2000. (In Norwegian) LC Call Number: BV4406.9.Z7. T84 2000
    Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony by a Norwegian journalist and writer.
  • Vester, Bertha Spafford. Our Jerusalem; an American Family in the Holy City, 1881-1949. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1950. LC Call Number: DS109 .V3
    An account of the Colony by the daughter of its American founders.


  • Bair, Barbara. "The American Colony Photography Department: Westen Caonsumption and 'Insider' Commercial Photography." Jerusalem Quarterly (Winter 2011) External
    Details the history, work and photographers of the American Colony Photograph Department.
  • Gavish, Dov. "The American Colony and its Photographers." In Zev Vilnay's Jubilee Volume: Essays on the History, Archaeology, and Lore of the Holy Land, Presented to Zev Vilnay, ed. Ely Schiller, 127-144. Jerusalem: Ariel Publishing House, 1987. LC Call Number: DS102.4 .S46 1984 (Original in Hebrew; English translation in P&P Matson Photograph Collection, collection files)
    Informative article detailing the history of the American Colony and its social and economic ventures and highlighting the careers of Lewis Larsson and Eric Matson.
  • Grønbæk, Jakob H. "The American Colony I Jerusalem og dens fotoatelier." In Bøger Biblioteker Mennesker et nordisk Festskrift tilegnet Torben Nielsen. Copenhagen: Det kongelige Bibliotek, 1988. (In Danish) LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection, collection files
  • _________. "Lewis Larsson. A Swede in Jerusalem in the First Half of the Twentieth Century." In Living Waters: Scandinavian Orientalistic Studies Presented to Professor Dr. Frede Lokkegaard on his Seventy-Fifth Birthday, January 27th 1990, eds. Egon Keck, Svend Sondergaard, Ellen Wulff, 75-87. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1990. LC Call Number: PJ3002.Z5 L56 1990
    Larsson's participation in photography in the context of Swedish involvement in the Colony.
  • Gröndahl, Mia. The Dream of Jerusalem: Lewis Larsson and the American Colony Photographers. Stockholm: Journal, 2005. LC Call Number: DS108.5 .G8413 2005
    History of the American Colony Photo Department with a focus on Lewis Larsson.
  • _________. The Dream of Jerusalem. Stockholm: Swedish Institute, n.d. LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection, collection files
    4-page illustrated brochure, which accompanied a collaborative project between the Consulate General of Sweden, the Swedish Institute, and the American Colony Hotel, contains new information about Lewis Larsson and the American Colony photographers.
  • Hardiman, Richard. In the Footsteps of Abraham: The Holy Land in Hand-painted Photographs. New York: Overlook Duckworth. 2008. Not in Library of Congress
    Contains reproductions of hand-colored lantern slides by the American Colony Photo Department from the collections of the Joods Historisch Museum in Amsterdam.
  • Hassner, Rune. Eric G. Matson & the American Colony Photographers, Jerusalem. Stockholm: The Swedish Institute, 1990. (In Swedish.) LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection, collection files
    Catalog accompanying a 1990 exhibition in Sweden.
  • _________. "Eric Matson, Photographer in Jerusalem." Svensk fotografisk tidskrift (February 1976): 12-17. (In Swedish.) LC Location: P&P Reference File (English translation)
    Based on information from Eric Matson.
  • Hummel, Ruth Victor. "Reality, Imagination, and Belief: Jerusalem in 19th and Early 20th Century Photographs (1839-1917)." In Ottoman Jerusalem, the Living City: 1517-1917, eds. Sylvia Auld and Robert Hillenbrand, 235-278. London: Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2000. LC Call Number: DS109.92 .O77 2000
    Interpretive discussion about Western-trained photographers' views of Jerusalem.
  • Matson, G. Eric. "Half a Century of Photography in the Bible Lands," 1969, typescript, source unknown. LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection, collection files
    5-page personal summation of his lifetime photographic activity.
  • _________. The Lord Is Our Shepherd. Chattanooga: Inspiration House, 1980. LC Call Number: BS1450 23d. M32 1980
    Posthumous printing of Matson's hand colored photographic illustrations for the Twenty-third Psalm.
  • Nir, Yeshayahu. The Bible and the Image: The History of Photography in the Holy Land, 1839-1899. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985. LC Call Number: TR113.I75 N57 1985
    Good background about photography predating the Colony; Elijah Meyers, Lars (Lewis) Larsson, and American Colony photographers described on pages 253-258.
  • Safieh, Hanna. A Man and his Camera: Photographs of Palestine, 1927-1967. Jerusalem: Raffi Safieh, c.1999. LC Call Number: DS108.5 .S23 1999
    Short essay by Issam Nassar about the Palestinian Arab who apprenticed with Eric Matson; contains many illustrations of Safieh's photographs.
  • Silver-Brody, Vivienne. Documentors of the Dream: Pioneer Jewish Photographers in the Land of Israel, 1890-1933. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1998. LC Call Number: TR113.I75 S55 1998
    Contextualizes the American Colony Photo Department within the rich landscape of early Jewish photography.

The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection

  • The American Colony. 1914 Catalogue of Photographs Made by The American Colony, Jerusalem of Sites, Scenes, Ceremonies, Costumes, Characters, Paintings, Etc., of Bible Lands, including Jerusalem, Galilee, Damascus, Baalbeck, Petra, Sinai, etc. Jerusalem: The American Colony, 1914. LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection Supplementary Archive.
    Catalogue listing, which documents the early stock of the American Colony Photo Department.
  • Bolen, Todd. The American Colony and Eric Matson collection. [S.l.]: Todd Bolen, 2009. LC location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection, collection files
    2 DVDs containing more than 4,000 photographs from the Matson photograph collection. Quotations from 19th century travelers, essays, and other material provides added context for the images.
  • Hobart, George S. "The Matson Collection: A Half Century of Photography in the Middle East." In A Century of Photographs, 1846-1946 Selected from the Collections of the Library of Congress, compiled by Renata V. Shaw, 109-129. Washington, DC: The Library of Congress, 1980. LC Call Number: TR6.U62 D572
    Short narrative introducing the newly acquired Matson materials by the Library of Congress curator involved in its acquisition.
  • Matson, G. Eric. The Middle East in Pictures. 4 vols. With introduction by George S. Hobart. New York: Arno Press, 1980. LC Call Number: DS44.5 .M37 1980 fol.
    Library of Congress curator George Hobart's short introductory texts to a visual catalogue comprised of photographic prints originally offered for sale by the Matson Photo Service, Jerusalem; images cropped from original negatives.
  • The Matson Photo Service. Photographic Catalogue of Bible Lands and Near East Countries Including East Africa. Jerusalem: The Matson Photo Service. [1936?]. LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection Supplementary Archive
    Catalog of photographs used by the Matsons in Jerusalem and California, organized by subject or place and indexed, except for East Africa section. Referred to in P&P catalog records as "Catalogue of photographs & lantern slides ... [1936?]"
  • The Matson Photo Service. [Matson Registers], photocopy of unpublished handwritten captions, 2 vols., 1934-1946. LC Location: P&P Matson Photograph Collection Supplementary Archive
    Photographic logbook serving as the only source of captions for negatives from this period.