Woman and two children sitting next to mat-covered wigwam.
Biographical / Historical:
Charles A. Zimmerman (1844-1909), photographer, St Paul, Minnesota, one of the best-known of his period; in business with Joel E. Whitney, as Whitney & Zimmerman, from about 1865, and from ca 1870 to 1900 independently. His negative number 738; style of mount used by him, ca 1870-1880.-- Information from G. H. Smith. British Museum #: Box B/2939. On back of photo: "A. M. Rice No 30"
The collection consists of 8,515 color slides taken by Dr. Marilyn Houlberg during various field studies among the Yoruba in southwest Nigeria between 1961 and circa 2007. The images depict Yoruba art and culture with a special focus on artisans, art objects, body arts, costume, festivals, hairstyles, indigenous photography, weaving and textiles. Cultural events depicted include Balufon festivals, Egungun and Gelede masquerades, social events (weddings, christenings, funerals), and religious ceremonies (initiation and animal sacrifice). Also included are various scenes of daily life, architecture, food preparation, markets, portraits and landscapes. Houlberg extensively documented Yoruba artists in the process of creating their art, including carvers Yesufu Ejigboye, Runshewe, and Lamidi Fakeye, as well as the final pieces themselves. Houlberg documentated art in situ, such as Yoruba house posts, shrines, wall art and wood doors and art objects, including Gelede masks, Ibeji (twin) and Eshu figures, Osanyin staffs, and Ogboni and Shango shrines. Manuscript and printed materials, including Houlberg's resume, thesis, and numerous published articles are also available in this collection.
Scope and Contents note:
This 6,567 slide collection documents Houlberg's studies in Southwestern Nigeria spanning from 1961 to circa 2005. In 2015, Houlberg donated an additional 1,948 color slides to the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives. These slides have been added to the EEPA 2005-002 finding aid, bringing the total to 8,515 slides.
The collection primarily includes photos of people, including the Ogboni, Pokot, Yoruba, Turkana and Igbo, shrines, festivals and rituals, art objects, and artists. A particular strength of the collection are photos of Balufon festivals, Egungun and Gelede masquerades, social events (weddings, christenings, funerals), and religious ceremonies (initiation and animal sacrifice). Also included are various scenes of daily life, architecture, food preparation, markets, portraits and landscapes. Houlberg mostly photographed in Ilishan, Ikenne, Ilara, Shagamu, Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, and Egbe.
Houlberg extensively documented Yoruba artists in the process of creating their art, including carvers Yesufu Ejigboye, Runshewe, and Lamidi Fakeye, as well as the final pieces themselves. Houlberg documentated art in situ, such as Yoruba house posts, shrines, wall art, wood doors and art objects, including Gelede masks, Ibeji (twin) and Eshu figures, Osanyin staffs, and Ogboni and Shango shrines. Several Yoruba art forms, including photography, scarification tattoos, and textiles (both cloth and dress), are represented in the collection. Additionally, there are numerous slides of Yoruba hairstyles, many of which she published in her article, Social Hair: Tradition and Change in Yoruba Hairstyles in Southwestern Nigeria.
Yoruba ritual specialists, such as Ife-olu Solaru, Olufunke, and Yesufu Ejigboye, appear frequently throughout the collection. Houlberg documented her many stays with these individuals over the years.
There is also one binder of manuscript and printed materials, including Houlberg's resume, thesis, and numerous published articles.
The collection is organized into 29 series according to subject. The series descriptions correspond with particular subjects used in Houlberg's teaching and lectures, and based on donor's notes. All slides were kept in the order in which they were donated.
Series 1: African Hairstyles, circa 1973-1994 (Binder 1; 212 slides)
Series 2: Egungun Festival, 1961-circa 1988 (Binder 1; 362 slides)
Series 3: Gelede, circa 1969-circa 1989 (Binder 2; 301 slides)
Series 4: Ibeji Twins, circa 1969-circa 1990 (Binders 2-3; 854 slides)
Series 5: Ogboni Art Objects and Shrines, circa 1969-circa 1982 (Binder 4; 92 slides)
Series 6: Art Objects Depicting Ogun, circa 1969-circa 1983 (Binder 4; 56 slides)
Series 7: Olojufoforo Art and Festivities, circa 1968-circa 1975 (Binder 4; 21 slides)
Series 8: Yoruba People, Architecture, and Art, circa 1969-circa 1985 (Binder 4; 260 slides)
Series 9: Carving, Art Objects and Artists, and Scenes of Daily Life, circa 1973-circa 1988 (Binder 4; 201 slides)
Series 10: Yoruba Art, circa 1971-circa 1983 (Binder 5; 49 slides)
Series 11: Yoruba Textiles, circa 1973-circa 1983 (Binder 5; 84 slides)
Series 12: Yoruba, Miscellaneous, circa 1967-circa 1989 (Binder 5; 251 slides)
Series 13: African Art, Textiles People, and Dwellings, circa 1963-circa 1983 (Binder 6; 58 slides)
Series 14: Ibo Mbari and Igbo Peoples and Artwork, circa 1967-circa 1985 (Binder 6; 212 slides)
Series 15: Art and Ceremonies, circa 1967-circa 1991 (Binder 6; 493 slides)
Series 16: Body Arts, Nuba People (Sudan) and Fulani and Bororo People (Niger), circa 1973-circa 1979 (Binder 7; 64 slides)
Series 17: People, Scenic Views and Animals of Kenya, Sudan, Angola, and Ghana, circa 1972-circa 1985 (Binder 7; 168 slides)
Series 18: Peoples and Arts of Ghana, Mali, and the Ivory Coast, circa 1966-circa 1992 (Binder 7; 406 slides)
Series 19: Published Maps and Photos, circa 1968-circa 1985 (Binder 8; 70 slides)
Series 20: Nigerian Masks and Art Objects, circa 1967-circa 1978 (Binder 8; 396 slides)
Series 21: Yoruba Festivals, People, and Art in Nigeria, circa 1967-circa 1988 (Binders 8-9; 128 slides)
Series 22: Yoruba Photography and Textiles, circa 1975-circa 1983 (Binder 9; 54 slides)
Series 23: Ife-Olu, Ilishan, circa 1980-circa 1988 (Binder 9; 87 slides)
Series 24: Yoruba Festivals, People, Hairstyles, Ibeji Objects, Eshu Figures, and Oya and Orishala Priests, Priestesses, and Shrines, circa 1966-circa 1988 (Binder 9; 168 slides)
Series 25: Shango, circa 1970-circa 1983 (Binder 10, 162 slides)
Series 26: Ara Festival, 1975 (Binder 10; 174 slides)
Series 27: Ceremonies and Festivals, Portraits, Art and Ceremonial Objects, Domestic and Market Scenes, circa 1969-circa 2005 (Binders 10-11; 759 slides)
Series 28: Yoruba Art Objects, and Domestic, Work, and Festival Scenes, circa 1971-circa 1983 (Binder 11; 104 slides)
Series 29: Manuscript and Printed Materials, 1973-circa 2005 (Binder 12)
Artist, anthropologist, and art historian Dr. Marilyn Hammersley Houlberg was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1939. Houlberg received an Associate of Arts degree from Wright Junior College (1959) and a BFA from the University of Chicago (1963). After graduating, she traveled to North Africa and explored Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. In 1964, Houlberg researched Haitian art, religion, and indigenous photography in Haiti and in 1965 was awarded a scholarship for graduate study from the University of Chicago. There she completed her MAT in Art History in 1967. Following graduation, Houlberg worked at the Nigerian Museum in Lagos, where she documented Yoruba sculpture, masquerades, religion, body art, and indigenous photography.
She began her teaching career at the University of Chicago as a lecturer on African art and African civilization, working there from 1971 to 1973. At the University of London, Houlberg earned a Masters in Anthropology, producing the thesis Yoruba Twin Sculpture and Ritual (1973). She also extensively photographed her travels abroad in Yorubaland. Between 1974 and 1990, Houlberg taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, Kalamazoo College, and Northwestern University. From 1974 to 2008 she continued teaching at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, lecturing on Yoruba art and ritual in West Africa and the New World, and the art and ritual of Vodou in Haiti.
Houlberg has lectured worldwide at numerous museums and symposiums since 1972, including in Lagos, Nigeria; Jacmel, Haiti; Toronto, Canada; Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; and Cologne, Germany. Her essays have been published in several issues of African Arts. Some of Houlberg's significant publications include Arts of the Water Spirits of Haitian Vodou, in Sacred Waters: Arts for Mami Wata and Other Divinities in Africa and the Diaspora (2008) and Water Spirits of Haitian Vodou: Lasiren, Queen of Mermaids, in Mami-Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and the African-Atlantic World (2008). The exhibition Mami-Wata at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2009) featured her photographs.
Marilyn Houlberg, 733 West 18th St., Chicago, IL 60616, Donation, 20050320, 2005-0002
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact Archives staff for more details.
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
The collection was acquired with assistance from the Eugene Meyer Foundation. Elihu and Susan Rose and the Save America's Treasures program, provided funds to stabilize, organize, store, and create digital surrogates of some of the negatives. Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.