Apologies for duplication. This is an announcement about 
Northwestern's recently launched digital collection; supported by a 
National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library 
Services. Photographs were digitized at 600dpi and are delivered in 
JPEG2000 format; metadata is Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and 
was crosswalked to MODS for faceting and searching; Northwestern's 
repository platform is Fedora. Additional reports and other 
information about the preservation metadata (PREMIS) implementation 
and preservation repository investigations will be forthcoming.

June 24, 2009

MEDIA CONTACT: Wendy Leopold at [log in to unmask]
Rare Africa Photos Go Online, Open New Options for Africa Research

This press release: 
Collection site: <>

EVANSTON, Ill. --- This week -- for the first time ever -- a 
searchable collection of thousands of rare photographs chronicling 
Europe's colonization of East Africa becomes available to anyone with 
an Internet connection anywhere in the world, thanks to the efforts 
of staff at Northwestern University Library.

The Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs: 
1860-1960 began attracting the interest of Africa scholars and others 
in 2002 when it was acquired by Northwestern's Melville J. Herskovits 
Library of African Studies. The library officially launches the 
online collection today (June 25).

"The 7,000-plus photographs in this extraordinary collection document 
the changing relationships among Africans and between Africans and 
Europeans during 100 years of dramatic historic change," says 
Herskovits Library curator David Easterbrook.

They include formal and informal portraits of Africans and their 
colonizers, photos of slaves and slave traders, and images depicting 
the building of railroads and urban areas and of traditional African 

They represent the work of explorers, colonial officials, settlers, 
missionaries, military officers, travelers and early commercial 

Visitors to the site can search for photographs by subject or browse 
them in a way that replicates how British collector Winterton 
organized the collection into 65 albums, scrapbooks and boxes. A 
"browsing feature" developed by Northwestern University Library 
technology specialists, for example, reproduces the experience of 
flipping through a photo album's pages.

Jonathan Glassman, a Northwestern associate professor of history in 
the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and specialist in 19th- and 
20th- century East Africa and comparative race and slavery, says the 
collection's special value lies in its unusual subject matter.

"The most familiar photographs from this era tend to dwell on what 
photographers considered East Africa's glamorous aspects -- its 
spectacular wildlife, landscapes, settler life or the occasional 
posed portrait of an African sultan or Maasai warrior," he says.

"What stands out about the collection is the large number of items 
that document prosaic matters -- matters that are precisely the most 
difficult for the student of African history to get a handle on," 
adds Glassman.

Because the images are tagged with extensive metadata, they can be 
searched by date or keywords. A school group viewing the site in its 
pilot stage, for example, asked Easterbrook to see if the collection 
included any photos relating to President Obama's ancestry. The 
result: 31 photos of people and places were found.

According to Easterbrook, photos going back as far as the 1860s are 
extremely rare in the history of photography in Africa, and 
opportunities to see and study them are rarer still. The creation of 
the digital Winterton site changes that.

One of its oldest photographs depicts a Zanzibar slave market circa 
1860. Although faded and in poor condition, the photo can be viewed 
online in detail. It is one of many images in the collection relating 
to slavery and the slave trade.

Among them is a portrait of Tippu Tip, a businessman, plantation 
owner and advisor to the Sultans of Zanzibar. Of African and Arab 
descent, he was an active slave trader even after the British 
abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery itself in 1833.

To optimize its value as an education tool for students of all ages, 
the online collection was designed in consultation with a group of 
kindergarten to high school educators and members of Northwestern's 
own renowned Program of African Studies.

In addition to explaining how elementary and high school teachers can 
use the collection for classroom projects and curricula, the online 
site links to other resources on teaching about Africa.

Generous funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services 
made it possible for Northwestern University Library not only to 
digitize the Winterton Collection images but also to design 
innovative tools to preserve and display them in electronic form.

With today's launch, the Winterton Collection becomes the third 
Herskovits Library collection available online. The others are a 
collection of 113 antique African maps dating from the 16th to the 
early 20th century at 
and a collection of 590 posters reflecting the culture and politics 
of contemporary African nations at 

These and other digital collections are part of an innovative digital 
repository being designed by Northwestern University Library to most 
effectively preserve and display electronic text, visual, audio and 
video materials for online access.

Northwestern's Herskovits Library of African Studies is home to the 
world's largest separate collection of Africana materials.
M. Claire Stewart
Head, Digital Collections
Northwestern University Library
(847) 467-1437
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