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ACHAC collection, 1880-ca. 1975

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ACHAC collection

Scope and Content of Collection

The ACHAC collection is iconographic in scope, and documents the impacts and influences of French colonialism, both on Africa and on France itself, as represented in images produced and distributed through the media of French popular culture as well as in the personal photographs of European residents of the African colonies. The collection relates principally to French colonialism, although some materials concern the Belgian and German colonies. Included in the collection are 2286 postcards, 350 loose photographs, 14 photograph albums, 19 periodicals, clippings and portfolio publications, 134 posters, prints and items of original artwork, 83 items of assorted ephemera, 148 loose advertising and collecting cards, 5 collecting card albums, 16 children's games and toys, and 14 scores of sheet music. The geographic foci of the collection are the former French colonies of North, West and Central Africa, with some items pertaining to Madagascar, Djibouti and Indochina, and to a much lesser extent the former Belgian colonies of Central Africa; one collecting card album represents the former German colonies in Africa and Oceania. Produced by government agencies, commercial concerns and private individuals, the images provide a representative cross-section of the visual materials in circulation at the time, in France and elsewhere, pertaining to the colonies and the colonial experience.

The collection is rich in images of colonial conquest and military activity, particularly with respect to the French colonial troops (Troupes coloniales) and the regiments of African soldiers recruited into the French army and serving under European officers, the best documented being the Senegalese infantry (Tirailleurs sénégalais). The collection also features a wealth of images documenting cities, regions and industries within the colonies, as well as the French colonial expositions of the first half of the 20th century, most particularly the one held in Paris in 1931; portraits and depictions of colonized peoples and cultures, ranging in tone from documentary and ethnographic to romanticized, erotic or racist; propaganda and educational images intended to direct public opinion within France into accord with French colonial, military and economic policy; and advertisements and other ephemera employing colonial or racist imagery.

Arrangement note

The collection is arranged in seven series:
Series I. Postcards, ca. 1900-ca. 1957;
Series II. Photographs, 1895-ca. 1962;
Series III. Portfolio publications and other periodical materials, 1909?-ca. 1960;
Series IV. Printed images, posters, maps and original artwork, 1880-1967;
Series V. Printed ephemera, ca. 1900-ca. 1975;
Series VI. Toys and games, 1892-1941;
Series VII. Sheet music, 1908-1956

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