Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

22 October 2010

EAP001 Faces and places: Iranian photography

This week I have started to catalogue the material produced by the very first EAP project, EAP001 - Faces and places in Iran: Iranian photography at the turn of the 20th century. The project surveyed 30 archive collections across 13 urban centres in Iran, and digitised a sample of these materials.

The collections include photographs from key figures in the history of Iranian photography, including Ernst Hoeltzer, Minas Patkerhanian Machertich, Mirza Abdollah Qajar, and Thooni Johannes. The materials are in the care of a range of institutions and individuals, many of them unfortunately unable to provide safe archival storage. The accompanying metadata is patchy, and in some cases there is no information about the photographs, their subjects, sources or other contextual information. Once the collection is made available we are keen to encourage users to add to the descriptions, especially if this involves identifying subjects, photographers or related collections.

Here are a selection of images from the project that have caught my eye; I'll put up more next week as I progress with the collection.

Armenian familyBLOG 
An Armenian family in Julfa. Taken by Ernst Hoeltzer, 1890s

Workers at the inauguration of Isfahan's telephone exchange. Photographer unknown, 1930s

Boghozkhanian Hospital in Julfa, taken late 1918 by Minas Patkerhanian Machertich

Many of the images in our collection also appear in a book by Parisa Damandan (the co-applicant on this project, and the source of many of the photographs), Portrait photographs from Isfahan: faces in transition, 1920-1950 (London: Sagi, 2004), which contains an introduction to the history of photography in Iran.



Hi, This is both fascinating and exciting. I research Armenian families in India, many of whose ancestors were originally from Julfa. I am sure that in your project there will be many photographs of individuals and families that will have a link to my Armenian genealogy research. I shall post your link around to other researchers, and hope that over time, they are able to help and make positive contributions to this project.

I shall watch it avidly and will encourage others to do so too!

best wishes
Liz Chater

Hi Liz,

Thanks very much for your comment, we’re glad to be able to make this material available, and to receive an enthusiastic response. This project includes a number of images of Armenian families, including photographs that would have been attached to exit papers when emigrating from Iran. Only a small sample of the photographs surveyed by the project were digitised, but we will be putting up information about the sources should you wish to investigate further.

Keep an eye on the blog for further information and useful announcements.

Best wishes,


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