venerdì 4 gennaio 2013

Who were the American Colony in Jerusalem?

The American Colony was a colony established in Jerusalem in 1881 by members of a Christian utopian society led by Anna and Horatio Spafford. Now a hotel in East Jerusalem, it is still known by that name today.


After suffering a series of tragic losses, Chicago residents Anna and Horatio Spafford led a small American contingent in 1881 to Jerusalem to form a Christian utopian society. The "American Colony," as it became known, was later joined by Swedish Christians. The society engaged in philanthropic work amongst the people of Jerusalem regardless of religious affiliation, gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony carried out philanthropic work to alleviate the suffering of the local inhabitants, opening soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures.

Although the American Colony ceased to exist as a religious community in the late 1940s, individual members continued to be active in the daily life of Jerusalem. Towards the end of the 1950s, the society's communal residence was converted into the American Colony Hotel. The hotel is an integral part of the Jerusalem landscape where members of all communities in Jerusalem still meet. In 1992 representatives from the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel met in the hotel where they began talks that led to the historic 1993 Oslo Peace Accord.

In the image :A young Ramallah girl reading popular American comics with some children of the American Colony in Jerusalem . If you look closely, you can see they are reading the "The Captain and the Kids" (

 American Colony and its connection with photography

Around 1900, Elijah Meyers, a member of the American Colony, began taking photographs of places and events in and around the city of Jerusalem. Meyers's work eventually expanded into a full-fledged photographic division within the Colony, including Hol Lars (Lewis) Larson and G. Eric Matson, who later renamed the effort as the Matson Photographic Service
Their interest in archeological artifacts and the detail of their photographs, led to widespread interest in their work by archeologists.  
The collection was later donated to the Library of Congress.

From Left to Right: Jamil Albina, Najib Albina, and Lewis Larson developing motion picture film in the American Colony, Jerusalem. Circa 1934.

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