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Views of the Belgian Congo album, 1908-1909

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Views of the Belgian Congo album

Scope and Content of Collection

The album of 185 gelatin silver prints compiled by an unidentified colonial agent who was in the Belgian Congo from 1908 to 1909, documents one man's experiences in the region during the first year of the newly-annexed Belgian colony's existence when the violence perpetrated against the indigenous Congolese and the ruthless economic exploitation of the country under King Leopold's reign were still prevalent.

The album begins with the agent's journey from Antwerp to Matadi and includes views of Tenerife, Sierra Leone and Leopoldville (Kinshassa), as well as scenes depicting the agent and other travelers during the voyage. From Matadi, the album records the agent's journey up the Congo river to Bosoko and his installation at his post at Yoboila (Lomami). A trip to Stanleyville (Kisangani) in 1909 is recorded in two views of a ceremony at the city's cathedral.

The remainder of the album is primarily dedicated to documenting the agent's daily life and the lives of the Congolese locals around him. Included are views of the agent's post and quarters, big game hunting expeditions and slain prey, and images of Tom, the agent's pet leopard cub. The agent, a bearded man whose portrait is pasted onto the album's front endpaper, is present in several images. There are numerous portraits of indigenous peoples, espcially focusing on Topoke scarification, local chieftains, and warriors. Also included are scenes of village life and life along the rivers and waterways, views of dancing and ceremonies, and the "harvesting" of elephant tusks. Several photographs depict chained prisioners and whippings.

The string-bound album with green percaline covers contains 185 photographic prints on 24 mounts, both recto and verso. Titles are from the French captions written below many of the photographs. Titles devised by the cataloger are in square brackets. Also included is one loose photograph.

Arrangement

In original order.




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