Collection of Images from Central Africa 1885-1960

Traveling in a hammock, Belgian CongoMany of the images like those in this collection ignited the damaging stereotypes and myths of racial inferiority about Africans propagated worldwide through the medium of photography.

This photography archive from the Smithsonian Museum of African Art contains “Hundreds of thousands of photographs from central Africa circulated as postcards, stereographs and illustrations between 1885, when the region came under the colonial domination of the Belgian crown, France and Portugal, and 1960, when central African countries gained their independence.”

The “In and Out of Focus” collection of images from Central Africa also documents a time in the 2nd half of the 19th century, when Africans took up photography themselves and being photographed became popular amongst elite African societies.

PHOTO: Traveling in a hammock, Belgian Congo
Photograph taken or provided by Émile Gorlia (1887-1966)
c. 1912, silver gelatin print
Gift of Sanford M. and Nancy H. Harris
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
National Museum of African Art
Smithsonian Institution

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