The Pères Blancs (White Fathers) Society Photographic Album documents the group's missions and the Africans living near them in the East African kingdoms of Rwanda and Burundi (now the state of Rwanda-Burundi). Subjects include individual and group portraits of Africans, including members of the Tutsi royal family and the Tutsi elite, Christian families of Hutu origin, missionaries and Western visitors, and Twa people on an elephant hunt. There are also photos of landscapes, African villages and mission buildings, activities, including dancing and farming.
Scope and Contents:
The photographs document the Africans living near the Pères Blancs (White Fathers) Mission stations at Rwanda and Burundi. Most of the photographs are individual and group portraits of Africans, especially members of the Tutsi royal family and Tutsi elite of Rwanda and Burundi. Other portraits include Christian families of Hutu origin, the missionaries and Western visitors, and Twa people on an elephant hunt. Activities documented include attending a mission class, building grass and brick structures, carrying royalty on palanquins, carrying visitors, dancing, farming, drawing water, and weaving baskets. Objects depicted include baskets, combs, garments, jewelry, lances and shields. There are images of African villages and mission buildings, as well as landscapes of mountains and volcanoes.
Maintained original order (in order of original albums).
Biographical / Historical:
Cardinal Charles M. Lavigerie, the Catholic Archbishop of Algiers, founded the Society of Missionaries of Africa which became known as Pères Blancs in 1869. Beginning a plan of expansion in 1878, Lavigerie sent a group of missionaries across the Sahara to establish a mission in Timbuktu, but the efforts failed when the accompanying Africans revolted. Over 23 missionaries died before the mission was completed in the 1890s.
The Pères Blancs also established themselves in Uganda, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and the Upper Congo by the 1880s. Despite resistance from local chiefs and governments, the society continued to expand in the first part of the 20th century, setting up hospitals; elementary, normal and technical schools; and seminaries in Africa, as well as training schools in several European countries. After World War II the society's influence declined, although it still operates today.
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Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Pères Blancs (White Fathers) photographic albums, EEPA 1987-010, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonia Institution.