Out of Africa and into the Classroom: A teacher's dream site on Africa!

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Teacher Resources


Northwestern University's East African Photo Collection

The Winterton Collection

Because photographs are integral to the study of Africa, the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies includes photographs in its collections and is committed to making them available for scholarly research and curricular support. In December 2002, the Herskovits Library acquired the Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African photographs. The Winterton Collection includes about 7,610 photographs organized in 76 separate albums, scrapbooks or loose collections. The photographs depict life, primarily in East Africa, between about 1860 and 1960. The Winterton Collection adds immeasurably to the breadth and depth of the Herskovits Library’s photographic collections.

Assembled by the British collector Humphrey Winterton over about 30 years, the collection depicts the breadth of African experience; documents African life; European life in Africa in all its manifestations; and the African landscape, in particular as it changed over time. Included are photographs showing the building of East Africa’s railways, the growth of its urban centers and the development of European colonial administration. The photographs extensively document rural life as well as the travels and work of European colonial officials and private businessmen. There are outstanding examples of portraiture, some of which were taken by commercial studios. Other photographs produced by commercial studios were specifically taken for sale and distribution in Europe and North America. The Winterton Collection also provides an unsurpassed resource for the study of the history of photography in East Africa. The Winterton Collection complements the exhaustive resources in print and microform in the Herskovits Library for the study of East Africa.

Purchase of this extraordinary collection was made available through use of the Charles Deering McCormick Endowment for Special Collections and the George and Mary LeCron Foster Endowed Fund. Digitization of the Winterton Collection and creation of this website was supported by a national leadership grant made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in September 2006.

Onsite access to the entire collection is open to researchers during regular library hours, Monday-Friday, 8.30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Advance appointments are recommended for researchers using the collection for the first time. Further information is available by contacting the Herskovits Library (E-mail: africana@northwestern.edu) or visiting the Herskovits Library website.

David L. Easterbrook

George and Mary LeCron Foster Curator

Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies

About the Website

The website for the Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs: 1860 - 1960 was created in order to increase access to the materials in the collection, which includes of 7,610 photographs, 230 glass lantern slides, and various other materials depicting life in Africa from 1860 - 1960. The original materials are housed in the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University, the largest separate library for the study of Africa in existence.

Our goal of increased access is not limited to students and faculty at Northwestern. The website aims to provide scholarly sources for researchers at all learning institutions, from elementary schools in Chicago to leading research universities around the world. This site was therefore designed for a broad range of users and needs, and we welcome your feedback on means of improvement.

Navigation of the site has been designed to support traditional searching and browsing. In addition, users are able to browse objects as they were originally organized. Using the Browse Tree also allows the user to "page through" individual albums, as though flipping through the pages of a physical book.

Another special feature is Winterton in the Classroom, which provides K-12 teachers and students with lenses through which to view the collection, sample searches, and suggestions for classroom projects.


About the project

This project was supported by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Serviceslink icon, grant number LG-05-05-0513-06. The three primary goals of the project were to support teaching about Africa, test emerging digital preservation standards, and to ensure that both the physical and digital collections are preserved.

An Advisory Committee (see credits, below) of K-12 and university faculty met several times throughout the 2.5 year project to define potential uses of the collection, evaluate prototypes, and offer guidance to the project staff. Mark Notess and Frances Jacobsen acted as consultants on the project for usability and information design.

Notess conducted two days of hands-on usability testing during the African Studies Association's 2008 Annual Meeting.

The descriptive metadata for this collection is stored in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) XML format. A crosswalk from EAD to Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) was implemented to support faceting and searching in SOLR. This approach maintains the original collection hierarchy for contextual exploration, but also supports more flexible direct-object discovery.

The collection was digitized by Northwestern University Advanced Media Production Studio (NUAMPS) according to the Northwestern University Library's established standards for digital archiving.

Photos were digitized in their original enclosures and groupings, one scan per album page, at 600dpi. NUAMPS used a BetterLight scanning system and constructed a gentle cradle support to minimize stress to bindings and materials (see the NUAMPS In-house Digitization pagelink icon for more information). NUAMPS' expert team of digital image specialists meticulously post-processed all of the images.

All images were saved as uncompressed TIFF files, and JPEG2000 derivatives were created. In order to provide quick access directly to individual images, the project assistants (Caizzi, Robillard and Quinn) generated "crop" data to identify the boundary coordinates of each photo within its larger context. In this way, the interface can support both quick image searches and more in-depth browsing through photos grouped on pages, in albums, and in thematic groups.

To date, this is the largest and most complex collection to be ingested into the Northwestern repository, which is built on the Fedoralink icon platform. Throughout the course of the project, two distinguished colleagues, Robin Dale and Ron Jantz, offered guidance on digital preservation issues, leading the Northwestern team through a preliminary evaluation of the repository based on the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC)link icon checklist, and helped Northwestern to establish a sound approach to creating and maintaining preservation metadata in PREMISlink icon.

The high-resolution Flash-based zooming viewer is the open source Origami Image Viewerlink icon developed by Northwestern's Academic & Research Technologies.

Additional information about the PREMIS profile, the repository architecture and other technical specifications will be added to this site over the coming months. Please watch this space for additional reports.

News and Events

Rare Africa Photos Go Online, Open New Options for Africa Research [Northwestern News, June 25, 2009]

Copyright and use requests

The Northwestern University Library respects the intellectual property rights of others. These digitized photographs have been made available solely for non-commercial research, teaching and private study. Northwestern University does not claim any copyright interest in these photographs. Publication and use inquiries must be directed to africana@northwestern.edu. Depending on their year of creation and first publication, some of these photographs are in the public domain. Image viewing is mediated by a special server that delivers only a lower-resolution or a partial view of images. We believe this balanced delivery is permitted under the Fair Use provision (Section 107) of United States Copyright Law. Copyright holders wishing to request removal of images may contact Northwestern University's Copyright Agentlink icon.


Northwestern University Library

David Easterbrook, George and Mary LeCron Foster Curator, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies (Principal Investigator); Claire Stewart, Digital Collections (Project Manager); Lori Arp, Library Administration; Stu Baker, Library Technology; Michael Bulfin, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies; Carolyn Caizzi, Digital Collections; Bridget Canavan, Web Technologies; Donia Conn, Conservation, Preservation; Scott Devine, Preservation; Steve DiDomenico, Enterprise Systems, Library Technology; Jeff Garrett, Special Libraries; Tonia Grafakos, Conservation, Preservation; Michelle Guittar, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies; Thomas Howell, Web Technologies; John Kannenberg, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies; Vlad Karpenko, Web Services, Library Technology; Crystal Martin, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies; Karen Miller, Bibliographic Services; Tom O'Connell, Digital Collections; Bill Parod, Enterprise Systems, Library Technology; Julie Patton, Digital Collections; Brendan Quinn, Digital Collections; Kitz Rickert, Conservation, Preservation; Amanda Robillard, Digital Collections; Deborah Rose-Lefmann, Bibliographic Services; Dan Zellner, Digital Collections.

Advisory Committee

Lori Arp, Northwestern University Library; Aaron Becker, Evanston Township High School; David Easterbrook, Northwestern University Library; Jonathan Glassman, Northwestern University Department of History; Gary Greenberg, Northwestern University Information Technology Teaching and Research Initiatives; Carolyn Grantham, Chicago Public Schools; Paul Hertz, Northwestern University Information Technology Planning and Development; Chapurukha Kusimba, The Field Museum of Natural History; Jacki Lopushonsky, Community Unit School District 200, Wheaton, Illinois; Claire Stewart, Northwestern University Library; Krista Thompson, Northwestern University Department of Art History

Northwestern University Information Technology

Collection digitized by Northwestern University Advanced Media Production Studio (NUAMPS) Stefani Foster, NUAMPS Harlan Wallach, NUAMPS Matthew Jackson, NUAMPS Jonathan Smith, Academic & Research Technologies Bob Taylor, Academic & Research Technologies


Robin Dale
Ron Jantz
Frances Harris
Mark Notess

Additional thanks to: David Bishop, Sean O'Fahey, Russell Maylone, Sarah Pritchard, David Schoenbrun, Roxanne Sellberg, Andrea Stamm, and the African Studies Association Outreach Council.