It’s so hard to know how to respond to the heartbreaking news stories about Palestine, without fear of sounding  ignorant or patronising. I also don’t want to inflict my political views on you, or add to the negative energy, so today I would like to contribute my simply sharing this archive collection of achingly beautiful photographs transporting us to a more a peaceful time in Palestine’s history.

historical photo of palestine
A monk is reads in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

The photographs are hand painted and show areas of Israel and the West Bank and include people, buildings, and landscapes in Jerusalem and Palestine. They were taken in 1919 by a team of photographers who were members of the American Colony, a contingent from Chicago established in Jerusalem in 1881 by members of a Christian utopian society led by Anna and Horatio Spafford who fled Chicago after suffering great loss in the city’s great fire of 1871.

The colony’s photography interest started when one of its members, Elijah Meyers, began taking photographs of places and events in and around the city of Jerusalem. Meyers’s work eventually expanded into a full-fledged photographic division within the Colony, including How Lars Larsson and G Eric Matson,  which was later renamed the Matson Photographic Service.  Their collection was later donated to the Library of Congress which is where I found these photos 

palestine in 1919

traditional palestinian dress for women
A woman from the Palestinian city of Ramallah wearing an embroidered costume
via dolorisa 1919
This old arch street is called Via Dolorisa, the Way of Suffering, a circuitous route believed by many to follow the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion
A camel caravan

Find the whole collection at the Library of Congress.

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