Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Photograph Album for the British High Commissioner

One of the main collections of photographs in the Israel State Archives is the collection of Herbert Samuel, the first British High Commissioner in Palestine, given to us by Edwin, his son.

Edwin Samuel (1898-1978) served as an official in the Mandatory government and stayed in Israel after 1948, becoming a senior civil servant and university lecturer. He deposited a rich collection of documents and photographs in the Archives about his and his father's activities and their family.

One of the most beautiful and important items in the collection is an album called MIZPAH. It is bound in suede leather and the pages are connected by a white drawstring. It contains 51 high-quality photographs (on 26 pages) and three pages with 78 signatures, many of them identified as belonging to the American Colony in Jerusalem.
 The American Colony was founded in 1882 by American Christian immigrants, later joined by a group from Sweden. One of the occupations of part of the group was photographing Palestine. Later descendants deposited the negatives of their photographs in the Library of Congress.
Anna Spafford (1842-1923), the founder of the American colony, in the courtyard of the building which is now the American Colony hotel.
Most of the photographs were taken during Herbert Samuel's term of office (1920-1925). Two of them are earlier: one of the surrender of Ottoman Jerusalem (December 1917), and one of the Zionist Commission (1918). Apparently, the album was given to Samuel shortly before the end of his term on June 30, 1925 by members of the American Colony.
Winston Churchill and Herbert Samuel in Jerusalem, March 1921

You can see the photographs on the website of the Israel State Archives. To find out more about the Samuel family see also Edwin Samuel's fascinating memoir, "A Lifetime in Jerusalem."

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