Photographs and Photograph Albums

Girls’ boarding school at Adana, 1903. Improving the educational status of women was one of the most important foci of the ABCFM and its auxiliary Woman’s Boards of Missions in Turkey and neighboring lands during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these institutions have closed (including the Adana school), but some continue to operate   today, now serving women and men side by side.This series of the American Board archival collection contains a total of approximately 3,000 images, which date from the late nineteenth century up to 2010, when the historical successor of the Board, the “Amerikan Bord Heyeti,” or Turkish liaison office of the United Church of Christ, finally closed its offices in Istanbul. The collection primarily consists of original photographs, but also includes published material, postcards, and other printed matter, as well as some maps and plans.

Steadfast producers and keepers of textual items, the missionaries of the American Board also originated and collected copious visual material, both to record their activities and to document the lives and customs of those with whom they worked. In the early and mid 1800s, the imagery was restricted to drawings and maps, but with the advent of photography, and especially towards the end of the century, photos became the primary means of illustration.

This shift is traceable in the changing format of the Missionary Herald, the ABCFM’s monthly journal, published to keep supporters in the United States abreast of the Board’s operations. From a simple, predominantly textual layout at its origin, and the addition of more abundant images c. 1870 (first engravings and then photos), the Herald, by 1900, had become a richly illustrated magazine, providing readers at home not only with news of the ABCFM’s missions but ample detail—written and visual—about the world and its peoples.

Pole vaulting at Anatolia College, Merzifon, c. 1900. ABCFM missionaries believed that exercise balanced study, and sports were an important extracurricular activity at their schools throughout the region.Besides imagery of Board personnel and ABCFM institutions and patrons, the photograph series of the American Board archives offers general images of Anatolia and its inhabitants. These records of regional village and city life, contemporary events, and important sites are of exceptional historical and ethnographic value. The collection is primarily arranged according to location, by town and city, but also includes a special section for portraits, in addition to several albums. A number of items, especially images of individuals, are anonymous and remain to be identified.

SALT Research: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions / Photographs »

SALT Research: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions / Photograph Albums »