Early Photography of Japan

Wisteria tea house, Kameido, Tokyo. Hand-colored albumen print, from the album Japanese photographs of the Meiji period, vol. 1, p. 11. E.G. Stillman Japanese Collection, Widener Library. EGS04.11


The Early Photography of Japan project integrates conservation, cataloging, and digital imaging to create a virtual collection of 35 albums containing nearly 2,000 photographs from Widener Library, the Fine Arts Library, and Harvard-Yenching Library. Donated by E.G. Stillman, a renowned philanthropist and generous benefactor of Harvard who avidly collected photographs and other materials related to Japan, the albums include many hand-colored albumen prints taken by pioneering and influential photographers such as Felice Beato, Baron Raimund von Stillfried, Kusakabe Kimbei, and Tamamura Kozaburo. They document the early history of commercial photography in Japan and reflect traditional Japanese culture before the dramatic transformation brought about by modernization and Western influence during the Meiji period. In addition to the Stillman albums, the project also includes photograph albums from other donors and a ten-volume publication containing original artwork and photographs, Brinkley's Japan: Described and Illustrated by the Japanese. View E. G. Stillman photograph albums from Widener Library digitized to date.

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