Photographs of African people and culture
The earliest dated item is among a group of photographs collected by Franz Uri Boas for research (Folder 1). These include various objects of ritual and daily use, pygmies at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition photographed by Jesse Tarbox Beals, a portrait of Michael Ansah, a student at the Tuskegee Institute, and two photographs marked “A daughter of the Kraal” and “A native hut.” Boas is considered the “Father of Modern Anthropology” for his pioneering work on race, culture, and language, particularly within the cultures of American Indians. Boas became Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) from 1900-1903 and served as Curator of Anthropology at AMNH from 1904-1905. Boas also studied the culture of African-Americans.
There is a 1922 photograph of Jose Goncalves Correia, a collector on many American Museum of Natural History ornithological expeditions, with a group of Cape Verdean men (Folder 2). Accompanying the photograph is a descriptive note on Ornithology letterhead from Robert Cushman Murphy dated 1944. Murphy, an authority on ocean birds and a conservationist, worked at the AMNH for 35 years as curator and later as chair of Ornithology. He retired in 1955. The note is addressed to Dr. Harry Lionel Shapiro and discusses the physical characteristics of Cape Verdeans. Dr. Shapiro, curator of physical anthropology and chair of the department of anthropology at AMNH, studied the effects of environment on race and is credited with laying the foundation for forensic anthropology.
Other notable items include photographs of a Kikuyu circumcision (Folder 3), and depictions of Zulu kraals and an African chief with his family in western dress donated by H. Nilson and Fred R. Bunker (Folder 6). Three sculptures are represented: a Benin bronze head, one of a pair on view in the AMNH Hall of African Peoples (Folder 9), a figurative sculpture (Folder 7), and a Bakuba (Kuba) cup (Folder 10). There are three remarkable studio portraits of a San man of South Africa (Folder 4). A set of fourteen printed postcards and one snapshot, dated 1950, focus on hairstyles and scarification from Niger, Sudan, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. The snapshot is labeled on the verso with a personal anecdote (Folder 12).
- circa 1904-1950
- Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 (Person)
Physical Description Note
Access Conditions and Restrictions Note
0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)
Source of Acquisition Note
Separated Materials Note
Physical Description Note
- Art, African
- Chapin, James Paul, 1889-1964
- Correia, José G., 1881-1954
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Dakar (Senegal)
- Foster, Robert
- Kikuyu (African people)
- Klein, Alfred J.
- Kuba (African people)
- Murphy, Robert Cushman, 1887-1973
- Photographic Print Collection
- San (African people)
- Sao Vicente -- Barlavento -- Cape Verde
- Sculpture, African
- Shapiro, Harry L. (Harry Lionel), 1902-1990
- South Africa
- Zululand (South Africa)
- Photographs of African people and culture, circa 1904-1950
- Deborah Tint
- October, 2011
- Description rules
- Language of description
- Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2012.