American Colony Negatives


The American Colony was a utopian society formed by Protestants based in Jerusalem.  First established in 1881, this society would minister to people of all faiths, setting up orphanages, medical clinics, schools, and, oddly enough, a photography studio.  I was introduced to this society a couple of hours ago, in the form of a large stash of glass negatives kept in a shoebox for many years.


The slides were meant for educational purposes, to bring shape to the lands that people in the United States learned about every Sunday, but had never seen.  Most of the slides were of well-known religious monuments like the Wailing Wall and Jericho, with spidery writing on the side describing the scene.  These were interesting from an archaeological and conservation point of view, as many of the buildings have deteriorated rapidly with modern pollution and the demands of tourism.  There were some “ethnographic” shots as well, and I hope to be able to scan them all properly and upload the images to share more widely.  I held a few up to a sheet of paper, hanging in a sunny window.

But many of the slides were broken, shattered on one side, and were barely held together in their framing paper.


These were the ones that affected me the most.

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

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