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Print Collection 20: Collection of Middle Eastern Photographs and Postcards (bulk ca. 1900-1940)

The Collection of Middle Eastern Photographs and Postcards contains more than three hundred images taken in North Africa and the Middle East from the early 1900s to the 1940s. Among the materials are postcards, photographs, and illustrated newspapers and albums.

Approximately seventy postcards document the work of several French and Italian missionary societies in caring for the sick and poor throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East in the early twentieth century. These include Franciscan missions (Les Capuchins Français en Syrie, Les Franciscains au Maroc, and Les Franciscaines Missionnaires de Marie en Mission); the Mission Dominicaine de Mesopotamie; and Jesuit missions (the Mission des Jésuites Français en Egypte and the Mission des Jésuites en Syrie). Other Catholic organizations represented on postcards include: the Missioni delle Figlie di S. Anna; Les Filles de la Charité de St. Vincent; the Missions des Soeurs Blanches du Cardinal Lavigerie; Les Soeurs- Missionnaires de Notre Dame d'Afrique; the Soeurs Missionnaires de Notre-Dame des Apotres; the Soeurs Saint-Joseph de l'Apparition; and the Missions Africaines.

Postcards and other materials record the events of the Turco-Italian War of 1911-1912 between the Ottoman Empire and Italy in Tripolitania and Cirenaica and the beginnings of modern-day Libya in the 1930s and 1940s under Italian rule. The collection includes advertising cards and propaganda material promoting Italian colonization and recognizing the roles played by various Italian heroes including King Victor Emmanuel III , Carlo Piazza, and Guglielmo Marconi in early aviation and telegraphy. Many items document the horrors of war, including scenes of charging troops and the dead.

Propaganda material focuses in two areas, showing the state of the native peoples of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. Some images document the role of missionaries in bettering the lives of the people of Northern Africa through education and care for the sick. Other material focuses on promoting peace between native groups and their conquerors.

Also part of the collection are thirteen issues of an illustrated supplement from the weekly Italian newspaper, La Domenica del Corriere. Mainly dated from 1912-1913, the sixteen-page newspapers, published in Milan, featured full-page colored paintings on the front and back covers, showing scenes from the war. The supplements contain articles and photographs from the war, stories, and advertising for consumer products.

This collection was acquired by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2009.

--Louise Strauss