Ca. 1920s. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 19x27 cm). 12 card stock leaves. With 51 mounted gelatin silver snapshot photographs, from ca. 11,5x17 cm (4 ½ x 6 ½ in) to ca. 4,5x14 cm (1 ¾ x 5 ½ in), most photos are ca. 8,5x12 cm (3 ¼ x 4 ¾ in). All photos with period ink captions in French on the mounts. Period brown faux crocodile leather album fastened with a string. Binding very mildly rubbed on extremities, a couple of images very mildly faded, but overall a very good album with strong interesting photographs.
Historically significant collection of original photos, showing the well-developed system of Catholic missions and schools in the former Buddu Kingdom bordering Lake Victoria in modern-day southern Uganda. Since the early 20th century, Buddu became the center of Catholicism in the Uganda Protectorate and eventually gained prominence as one of the main Catholic strongholds in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our album was likely compiled during a tour of the main Catholic institutions in Buddu in the 1920s, and largely focuses on the mission of Villa Maria, founded in 1892 by a famous White Fathers missionary Henri Streicher (1863-1952), and the Bwanda Sister’s convent established by the White Sisters in 1902. The album starts with over twenty photos of the “Noviciat des Soeurs Noires de l’Uganda” (modern-day Bwanda Sister’s convent and novitiate), run by the Bannabikira or “Daughters of Mary” sisterhood, one of the oldest Catholic sisterhoods in Africa. It was established by a White Sisters nun Mother Mechtilde in 1908, and the name Bannabikira was adopted in 1910. “By 1926 the order had a new permanent headquarters in Buddu and the first Ugandan mother superior was named (Mama Cecilia Nalube, who took the name Mother Ursula)” (Sheldon, K. Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016, p. 41). The photos include views of the convent’s main building, the inner court and galleries, and the interior of the chapel and the convent’s school classrooms. Numerous group portraits of the inhabitants include a photo of the nuns, posing with Henri Streicher, the society’s founder Mother Mechtilde and “la Supérieure” (Mother Ursula), a closer portrait of “la Supérieure et ses assistantes,” portraits and scenes with the native novitiates ironing lace cloth, “les aspirantes au brevet d’institutrices” (with the sign of “St. Teresa’s Normal School” in the back), schoolgirls posing inside a classroom, a group of “chiefs’ daughters,” children in the fancy dress ready for a celebration, two scenes with children during the benediction ceremony, girls working in the field under the supervision of nuns, etc.
Four photos show the Villa Maria Hospital, founded by the White Sisters in 1902: the hospital chapel with the huts of contagious patients, the interior of the maternity ward, and a scene with a nun treating a Ugandan man. Six photos of the schools in Kisubi show a group of native girls posing next to a sign “Lace makers at work, White Sisters, Kisubi;” one of the girls showing the lace she made; a group of boy students from of “St. Joseph Technical school,” posing with the sign “Kisubi, Uganda, 7-7-27;” boys from the section of carpenters, with a White Father missionary; a portrait of the first four missionaries from the Brothers of Christian Instruction society, who came to work in Uganda; and a scene of a review at an “English school of Kisubi.”
There are also interesting photos of students from an “English school in Kitovu and an “English school” in Nandere;” a scene from a service next to a church in Bukalasa; four earlier portraits of the White Fathers in the Mitala Maria mission, dated 1912; portraits of the students from “Ecole de catechistes” in Bikira, etc. Four other photos show Henri Streicher, leaving a church after the ordination ceremony, posing with the newly ordained Ugandan priests, or with the seminary students. Several photos depict native girls, hunters, etc. The last photo is a large group portrait of the White Fathers missionaries of Uganda taken during the official visit of Father Malet (then the society’s Superior General in Algiers) in 1907-1908.
Overall an important original source on the history of Catholic missions and schools in Uganda in the 1920s.
Price: $1,750.00 USD