The Ross Archive of African Images (1590 – 1920)

Ross Archive of African Images 1590 - 1920

Whenever I begin with a new study, I always start my research with a search in the Ross Archive of African Images. It contains approximately 5000 pictures of African art published before 1921 and is thus an ideal tool to discover if a particular object type was known before this date and if so when & where the first examples were ever published. This archive aspires to include all the figurative African objects in books, periodicals, catalogues, newspapers, and other publications appearing in 1920 and earlier from the James J. Ross library – the oldest dates to 1590. It does not include postcards or pamphlets of limited distribution, and focuses exclusively on figurative art. A fantastic plus of this database is the inclusion of the original captions & relevant text, both in the original language and translated. Since many of the listed publications are very hard to get, it makes a researcher’s life much easier. To make it even better, multiple scholars have often made additional interesting comments. All images are downloadable in high resolution scans and users can contribute to the database by sending in comments. And, it’s available for free ! In other words, a website definitely worth a visit – you can find it here.