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Photo, Print, Drawing Afghanistan, 1879-80

About this Item


  • Afghanistan, 1879-80


  • Afghanistan, 1879-80 is an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80). The war began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, invaded the country from British India. The first phase of the war ended in May 1879 with the Treaty of Gandamak, which permitted the Afghans to maintain internal sovereignty but forced them to cede control over their foreign policy to the British. Fighting resumed in September 1879 after an anti-British uprising in Kabul, and finally concluded in September 1880 with the decisive Battle of Kandahar. The album includes portraits of British and Afghan leaders and military personnel; portraits of ordinary Afghan people; depictions of British military camps and activities; and Afghan structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. The sites shown are all located within the borders of present-day Afghanistan or Pakistan (a part of British India at the time). About a third of the photographs were taken by John Burke (circa 1843-1900), another third by Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831-1923), and the remainder by several other photographers. Some of the photographs are unattributed. The album possibly was compiled by a member of the British Indian government, but this has not been confirmed. How it came to the Library of Congress is not known. World Digital Library.
  • Afghan leaders and their families depicted include "Mustanfi Habibulah Khan" (prime minister under Yakub Khan); Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, Amir of Afghanistan; Babu Khan, "holder of certificate given by Cabul prisoners in 1842"; the sons of Nouroz (Nowroz) Khan of Lalpoora (Lalpura); a group of Afghan leaders at a durbar in Lahore (Pakistan); the family of Dōst Moḥammad Khān, Amir of Afghanistan (1793-1863); ambassadors of Mohammed Ayub Khan, Governor of Herat province; and "Sir Bolan" an Achakzai chief.
  • Among the many local people depicted are an Afghan girl, "Afreedees" (Afridi Pashtun tribesmen), Afghan horse dealers, Hazāra people including a woman and child, Timuris (Taymani tribe), a Baluch (Baluchi) beggar, and pomegranate sellers.
  • British governors of India and civil servants depicted are Sir Robert Egerton, Lieutenant Governor of Punjab; Sir Ashley Eden, Lieutenant Governor of Bengal; Sir Charles Aitchison, Governor of Punjab; Sir James Ferguson, Governor of Bombay; Sir Alfred Lyall, Sir William Muir; Sir Andrew Clarke, and Sir Richard Meade.
  • British military camps and activities make up a large proportion of the images and include a camp near Ali Masjid (Khyber pass, Pakistan), a camp at Shergai Heights (Khyber Pass), mule and elephant batteries, Gatling guns, soldiers carrying wounded, medical officers in Kandahar, a Heyland cart and pack mules, the 78th Highlanders in Barracks Square, Kandahar; Sikh "Gooroos" attached to Punjab regiments, a theatrical group and reproduction of a drawing showing an engagement in "Khost Country," Afghanistan.
  • Five panoramic photographs show Suffaid Koh (the Koh-e-Safaid mountain range west of Peshawar, Pakistan), Bala Hisar (Kabul), Kandahar, a view from Khyber to Shutugardun, and a view of Kabul from Bala Hisar.
  • Landscape photographs show the Khyber Pass, the Lundi Kotal pass, the Kohat pass, and Baba Wali Kotal. Structures depicted include the Peshawar Fort (Bala Hisar) in Peshawar, Pakistan; the Jumrood (Jamrud) Fort, Pakistan, the Buddhist Sphola Stupa at Isplala (Kyber Pass), an Afghan water mill and the bridge across Indus at Attock, Pakistan.
  • Photographs depict people and locations associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880). Shown are British and Afghan leaders and military personnel, Afghan people, British military camps and activities, structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. Images depict places that are within the borders of current day Afghanistan and Pakistan (formerly British India).
  • Photographs of two documents include a certificate signed by British General William Elphinstone and other prisoners who were captured during the 1842 retreat from Kabul during the First Anglo-Afghan War, and a bill of exchange for payment of ransom from the British explorer William Moorcroft.
  • Portraits of British military officers include Sir Donald Stewart, General Dunham-Massy, Colonel Mowbray Thomson, Lord William Beresford, Sir Frederick Haines, Sir Peter Lumsden, Sir George Colley, Field Marshal Frederick Roberts with "Sirdars" in Kabul, and General Hume and his staff at Kandahar.
  • Towns and cities shown include Lundi Kotal (Landi Kotal, Pakistan), Pipers Hill and the Amir's garden in Jellalabad (Jalālābād) and the Shumshere (Shamshere) Bridge in Kabul. The majority of city views depict Kandahar and include street scenes, people, Barracks Square, a signal tower, the Tomb of Ahmad Shah Durani, Artillery Square, a courtyard of "Wali Shere Ali's Zenana" (the women's quarters of Amir Sher Ali's home), camels in front of Durrani (Durani gate), Chilzina (a rock cut chamber in the north side of the Kandahar citadel), and Kirka Sherif (Shrine of the Cloak), where the mantle of the Prophet is preserved.


  • Burke, John, -1900, photographer
  • Baker, William, -1880, photographer

Created / Published

  • 1879-1880.


  • -  ʻAbd al-Raḥmān Khān,--Amir of Afghanistan,---1901
  • -  Dōst Moḥammad Khān,--Amir of Afghanistan,--1793-1863--Family
  • -  Eden, Ashley,--Sir,--1831-1887
  • -  Lyall, Alfred Comyn,--Sir,--1835-1911
  • -  Thomson, Mowbray
  • -  Afghan Wars
  • -  Afghans--1870-1880
  • -  British--Military service--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Bridges--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Cities & towns--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  City & town life--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Firearms--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Forts & fortifications--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Forts & fortifications--Pakistan--1870-1880
  • -  Historic sites--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Historic sites--Pakistan--1870-1880
  • -  Military camps--British--Pakistan--1870-1880
  • -  Military officers--British--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Military personnel--Afghan--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Military personnel--British--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Streets--Afghanistan--1870-1880
  • -  Afghanistan--History
  • -  Kandahār (Afghanistan)--1870-1880


  • Albumen prints--1870-1880
  • Group portraits--1870-1880
  • Landscape photographs--1870-1880
  • Manuscripts--1870-1880
  • Panoramic photographs--1870-1880
  • Photograph albums--1870-1880
  • Portrait photographs--1870-1880


  • -  Album possibly compiled by a member of the British Indian government.
  • -  Also see "Treating the Second Anglo Afghan War Album: Negotiations Between Book and Photograph Conservation," Dana Hemmenway and Yasmeen R. Khan, Library of Congress, June 18, 2009. Webcast available at:
  • -  For discussion of the conservation of this album see: "Treating the second Anglo-Afghan war album: negotiations between book and photograph conservation," Dana Hemmenway and Yasmeen R. Khan, ICOM Committee for Conservation, 15th Triennial Conference New Delhi, 2008, preprints volume II, pp. 684-690.
  • -  Photographers include John Burke (d. 1900) (one third of images), Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831-1923) (one third of images), Baker & Burke, and Charles Shepherd (fl. 1858-1878) of Bourne & Shepherd. Some photographs are unattributed.
  • -  Title from item.
  • -  Source unknown.


  • 1 album (97 albumen prints) ; 42.5 cm. by 32.5 cm (album)

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Afghan album [Near East Section cage]


  • Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2013646213

Rights Advisory

  • No known restrictions on publication.

Access Advisory

  • Use digital images. Original served only by appointment because material requires special handling. Please consult reference specialist for Near East Section, African and Middle Eastern Division.

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Burke, John, -1900, and William Baker, photographer. Afghanistan, -80. Afghanistan Kandahār Pakistan, 1879. to 1880. Photograph.

APA citation style:

Burke, J. & Baker, W., photographer. (1879) Afghanistan, -80. Afghanistan Kandahār Pakistan, 1879. to 1880. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Burke, John, -1900, and William Baker, photographer. Afghanistan, -80. to 1880. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.