African photographs from the University of Pennsylvania Museum Archives

This site is presented by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the University of Pennsylvania Library (SCETI), and the University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center. It makes available photographic images residing in the Museum Archives that were made in 1936-37 in African Sherbro-speaking areas of Sierra Leone.

Introduction to the Exhibit
The University of Pennsylvania Museum (UPM) has engaged in archaeological and ethnographic research and collecting in Africa since the late 19th century. The UPM's African Collection, which dates back to the late 19th Century, consists of more than 10,000 artifacts from all regions of the continent. Some of these artifacts are on permanent exhibition to the public. The rest are available to approved scholars by appointment.

In 1936-37 Henry Usher Hall, Curator of General Ethnology, led the first Museum-sponsored expedition to sub-Saharan Africa. He spent seven months conducting ethnographic research among the Sherbro peoples of Sierra Leone. During Hall's research trip to Sierra Leone, he collected many artifacts that are today considered to be one of the UPM's major ethnographic collections. Several of the objects seen in Hall's photographs are on display in the UPM's African Gallery.

The photographic images presented here have been selected from a larger collection of photographs and records in the University of Pennsylvania Museum Archives. The Archives include a broad selection of papers devoted to ethnographic and linguistic research in Africa, as well as photographs, films, maps, drawings, and tape recordings.

Hall's papers include field notes, bibliographies, and textual commentaries that provide ethnographic information about the way of life of the Sherbro people and others--including the Mende, Krim, and Temne peoples--who lived among them. Hall also published a book on the results of his work, The Sherbro of Sierra Leone (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1938).

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