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African Studies Primary Source Guide: Visual Resources

This page focuses on resources held in the Manuscripts & Archives Department in Sterling Memorial Library but also includes material held in other Yale collections.

Additional guides to visual resources for African studies

Other Yale collections hold materials of interest to African studies! For example:

YUAG 1954.28.1

The African art collection of the Yale University Art Gallery comprises nearly 2,000 objects, representing 3,000 years of African history, with masks, figures, utilitarian objects, jewelry, ceramics, and textiles from throughout the continent. Highlights include ritual figures and masks from West and Central Africa, jewelry from North Africa, and terracotta antiquities from the Sahel area.

Divinity IMP-YDS-RG101-005-0000-0031

The Yale Divinity Library Special Collections hold many interesting images of late 19th- and early 20th-century life in Africa.

Yale Manuscripts & Archives hold many fascinating collections of posters, photographs, and more, such as this example from the Immanuel Wallerstein Collection of African Liberation Posters.

African Collection Online Exhibits

David E. Apter Collection

Photo by David E. Apter
Hausa headman in Ashanti, Kumasi, Central Gold Coast, 1952-1953


Casimir Zagourski Postcard Collection

Photo by Casimir Zagourski
M'Bouaka child in Province de l'Equateur

Selected Visual Resources on Africa in Yale Libraries

About African postcard collections in MSSA

The Manuscripts and Archives Department has a large collection of about 13,000 postcards from Africa. The postcards are arranged by country or region, and date from the beginning of the 20th century. Many were produced during the period of European colonization, and many were even printed in Europe—mostly France, Germany and Italy.

While many postcards were used for correspondence and thus reproduce Western ideas of Africa and Africans (in addition to their philatelic interest), others, such as the famed Zagourski postcards, were never mailed but collected for other reasons. Many of the card images were taken and/or produced by skilled photographers/publishers such as Ern. Thill, G. Lerat, Peter Freres, and Rene Moreau. Themes cover a wide spectrum of topics, providing a fascinating resource for students of ethnography, historical geography, environmental history, and cultural practices.