Ghana, circa 1900

I recently learned that the UK National Archives has digitized their collection of photos on Africa during the early 1900 period and made the collection available via flickr. The photo collection, called “Africa Through a Lens” presents stunning imagery of African communities, villages, towns and of course, people.

I’m excited about this because not only does the digitization of these photos make them readily available to people all over the world (and, perhaps most importantly, those on the African continent), but there is also the opportunity to “comment” on the photos to add information about the location and context in which the subject was taken. This is especially heartening given the sometimes culturally insensitive captions that were used from time to time in the collection. It also creates an interesting space for discourse — to add insight on who these people and places are, their importance, and their relevance to today.

I’ve included some photos (and their accompanying captions):

The caption lists the location as “Accra,” but based on the title of the building, it seems this is rather a post office in Ho, eastern Ghana. No date provided.
“The headquarters of the Industrial Development Corporation (left) and beyond it the newly opened
Co-operative Bank in Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast” (January 1957).
“Exterior of the new Central Library in Accra” January 1957).
“Villagers learn to build their own houses at the Rural Centre, Kwaso, Gold Coast” (January 1957).
“Gold Coast. Accra. Crowded area of low swish huts with roofs of corrugated iron sheets kept in position by stones placed on the top. Huts build without regulatory or order. No drainage possible” (No date provided).

Check it out!

“The National Archives UK

“Africa Through a Lens” Photo Collection