The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) has recently digitised 3,000 photographs of the Middle East from the Maison Bonfils collection, dating from 1867-1914.
The collection includes many images of Jerusalem and Palestine, including the photograph of Al-Aqsa Mosque featured above.
As the project overview explains, these photographs are a small selection from a vast archive of 40,000 photographs produced by the French Bonfils family, who in 1867 established the first photographic studio in Beirut, which they named ‘Maison Bonfils’.
The archive is currently under threat, given that it is not housed in an institution which will secure its future, while its contents are not catalogued, and difficult to navigate.
The creation of a database of the photographs by the EAP will provide a useful resource for scholars, while preserving this valuable heritage from the Ottoman Middle East. It’s also a fascinating archive to browse through, for a glimpse of a familiar region at a very different time.
Via Cathy Collins of the EAP, on Twitter.