Incredible Colorized Slides of Africa from 1896

Field Museum Flickr
Field Museum Flickr / Field Museum Flickr

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, naturalist and taxidermist Carl Akeley led a series of expeditions to Africa to collect specimens for the Field Museum. The Chicago-based institution has collected a number of extraordinary photographs from those trips—including many glass lantern slides that were colored by hand—on its Flickr page. Here are a few highlights. 


The main purpose of this trip was to collect mammal specimens; it was led by D.G. Elliot and Carl Akeley. The top photo of a snarling cheetah cub was taken on this trip.

Taken from the deck of a boat called Tuna, you can see Berbera in Somalia in this photo.

A dredge of Egypt's Suez Canal.

The rock of Gibraltar.

This photo, snapped on the fourth of July, depicts Akeley's camp in Somalia. The man might be D.G. Elliot.

Unloading camels.

A sunset view.

Berbera at night.

A man playing with two cheetah cubs.

1905 - 1906 EXPEDITION

It was on this trip, which began in October 1905 and lasted until December 1906, that Akeley obtained the two elephant specimens that are still displayed in the Field Museum's Stanley Field Hall. The team also snapped a lot of photos and scenery shots as reference for dioramas.

Athi River and vegetation.

Waterfalls on the Theba River in Kenya.

This sunken dynamite boat—the British steamer Chatham—was on its way to Japan. According to a 1905 New York Times article, the ship had caught on fire on September 6 and was purposefully sunk; on September 28, mines in the ship's hull were detonated by an electric current 5 miles away, obliterating the ship and its 90 tons of dynamite. "A huge column of water and the ship's wreckage was thrown 2,000 feet into the air," according to the Times, "and in falling destroyed 600 feet of the east bank of the [Suez] Canal. It is said that ninety tons is the greatest amount of dynamite ever exploded at one time."