The African Historical Graphics Archive
would be designed to record, conserve and present historical maps and
graphic images of Africa and its peoples for advanced scholarship,
public exhibition and curriculum development on African history
throughout the world.
of Africa and graphic images of its scenery and peoples have been
produced by North Africans and Europeans ever since the work of medieval
Arab geographers and the earliest contacts of the Portuguese with the
West African trading kingdoms in the fifteenth century. While numerous
European and American libraries and archives have rich repositories of
this material for particular regions of Africa, no systematic effort has
yet been made to collect, catalogue, interpret and present this
material for in-depth historical scholarship, teaching and broader
recently undertaking such a massive task was virtually impossible.
Individual collections of rich material are so dispersed and the
historical and linguistic expertise required to deal with each
collection is so varied that it seemed impossible for an individual
scholar to accomplish the work necessary even to begin such a project in
a single life-time.
the last decade, however, the emergence of computerized imaging
technology and the associated development of online visual database
software now makes it possible to build a new kind of international
research facility that can coordinate and administer a multicultural,
cooperative, and cumulative research project to identify, catalogue,
preserve and present these priceless historical images of Africa to
scholars, educators and the public at large both in America, Africa and
throughout the world.
urgency for beginning this work stems from the fragile and
deteriorating nature of the documents themselves. The paper upon which
maps and images of Africa have been printed is in serious danger of
deteriorating beyond retrieval. Unless a deliberate effort is made in a
timely fashion to arrest the deterioration and engage in purposive
restoration, many of the earliest and most valuable maps and images will
be lost forever.
capturing and reproduction technology make it possible to replicate the
graphic images and digitally preserve them to retrieve the priceless
information they contain before the originals become totally unusable. A
systematic program of document recovery and restoration of this nature
can be designed to serve the needs of the international scholarly
community and make these invaluable primary materials available for
in-depth analysis, public exhibition and distribution to participating
institutions throughout the United States and around the world.
an ever expanding core of digitized documents provided by participating
institutions scholars will be able to assemble and curate collections
of selected original graphic material for their particular needs as
part of their individual research projects. In coordination with
numerous emerging third-party technologies like those that have become
available through publicly accessible platforms including Google Earth, YouTube, Blurb and VoiceThread
participating scholars can develop and co-publish important new studies
in African history based upon this material. The interoperability of
the digital collection will make it both feasible and cost-effective to
produce digitally accessible textbooks, teaching materials and novel
curricula for use at all levels throughout educational systems
worldwide. (See, for example, "The Next Generation Of Maps" WBUR, Boston, 21 June 2012).
Click on links below to view examples of
to be collected, preserved and made available
in this proposed cumulative, multi-annual