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Fine Arts Library

Access to the Archives

The Archives are accessible to anyone with serious scholarly interests or a desire for specific photo documentation of an aspect of Middle Eastern society, culture, or landscape covered by the collections.

At present, the Harvard Semitic Museum Photographic Archives Inventory Report with accompanying photographer and country indexes acts as the primary finding aid to the constituent parts of the Archives. Further reports provide more detailed information concerning features of the Ullens and Twitchell archives, and finding aids have been created for most of the special collections not contained within the Archives, some of which have group records in VIA.

With the assistance of a collection staff member, patrons may peruse small copy prints of all 19th century albumen prints acquired through 1980 (including the Core Collection) before requesting the originals. A modest subject guide accompanies the copy prints.

All albumen prints present in the Archives produced by the important photographic studio founded in Beirut by the Bonfils family in 1867 are listed in the following publication, which is available in the library. The Fine Arts Library also has it available in microfiche.

The image of the East: nineteenth-century Near Eastern photographs by Bonfils: from the collections of the Harvard Semitic Museum. Carney E.S. Gavin; compiled and edited by Ingeborg Endter O'Reilly. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

A photo CD-ROM (on 17 CDs) has been made of the 1,774 core slides representing the irreducible set of representative, unduplicated, high-quality images within the total 4,607 color slides in the Ullens Archive. Thirty audio CDs have been made of the Ullens audiotapes, covering an extremely wide range of sounds, including numerous examples of tribal music and Sufi chanting.