Monday, August 24, 2015

A Major 19th Century Photo Collection Rescued and Digitized by the British Library's Endangered Archives Program

A preview of Bonfils' photographs

Three thousand pictures taken by the Maison Bonfils photographers of Beirut from 1867 to the 1910s are part of the private Fouad Debbas collection in Beirut. Last year, the collection was digitized and posted online by the British Library's Endangered Archives Program

We have posted several Bonfils' photographs in the past from the Library of Congress, Getty, and New York Public Library collections. But nowhere in the world has such an extensive collection of Bonfils' photographs been collected and made public.  We thank the Debbas family and Ms. Jody Butterworth, the curator of the British Library's Endangered Archives Programme, for their efforts.

We present here just a preview of this very important collection:


Jews praying at the "Wailing Wall" (Debbas Collection, British Library)
Rachel's Tomb on the way to Bethlehem (Debbas Collection, British Library)

Rachel's Tomb, not the village of Sanur

Elsewhere in the Debbas Collection this picture is captioned "Village of Sanur in the modern-day West Bank."

Obviously, it is another Bonfils photo of Rachel's Tomb.













The bustling Jaffa Gate outside of Jerusalem's Old City. The Hotel Fast was built in 1891. The photo was
taken prior to 1898 when a breach was made in the wall for the German Emperor's carriages.
(Debbas Collection, British Library)
We plan to present more of the collection in coming weeks accompanied by our historical essays.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on caption link to view the original.

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