These early photographs stand now as important documents of the history of photography. However, the significance of these artifacts is enriched by their utility as historical documents of the architectural and social history of the Middle East. Photographers chose as subjects the monuments of the Middle East’s medieval and ancient past, as well as scenes of daily life. Since the nineteenth century, many of these monuments have been altered through architectural restoration, or their contexts have been radically transformed by the inevitable modernization witnessed in the twentieth century. In some cases, and particularly in those scenes depicting social life, the images are the only surviving records of the Middle East’s history.The collection was first scanned and made available on the Library’s website in 1996 at what is today considered low resolution. The collection was re-digitized in 2014 in color and at a higher resolution in order to create preservation-quality master files, and to make the collection easier to navigate for both general and advanced users. Color is particularly important, allowing more accurate viewing of the varied tonality of the many albumen prints as well as the results of some of the more creative photographic experiments. The Middle East Photograph Archive re-digitization project was made possible in 2014 through the Library’s Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship.
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