May 21, 2022

Digital Humanities: New Online Archive Will Create Global Access To Rare African Photos

Update: We’ve added links to the bottom of this post to view some archived images already digitized by Keller that’s available via the British Library.

From Michigan State University:

Hoping to preserve cultural heritage and change Western thought on Africa, a Michigan State University researcher will use a $300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize 100,000 original black-and-white negatives of Mali’s most important photographers, dating from the 1940s.

Candace Keller, assistant professor of African art history and visual culture, is collaborating with MSU’s MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and the Maison Africaine de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, to create the Archive of Malian Photography.

Once complete, the publicly accessible, free database will provide valuable documentation of the modernization of Western Africa, featuring family portraits and photos of military activities, diplomatic visits, political events, national monuments, architecture, cultural and religious ceremonies and other aspects of popular culture, she said.


By digitizing, cleaning and rehousing the negatives, Keller and her team hope to protect them from further climatic damage caused by flooding, extreme temperatures, dust and poor storage conditions. In addition, providing access to only low-resolution photos renders them unusable in print – yet still accessible for research and scholarship – thereby protecting photos from further exploitation on the global market.


Keller’s current two-year project is the second phase of the Archive of Malian Photography project. She and her team have already digitized 28,000 Malian photos using a grant from the British Library Endangered Archives Programme.

Read the Complete Announcement

See Also: View 27,000+ Images Digitized by Keller (via British Library Endangered Archives Programme) ||| Learn More About the Project

See Also: NEH Grant Announcement and Abstract

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.