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The photographs in the John D. Whiting Collection document two related subject areas: (1) places, events, and people in the Middle East, and (2) daily life among members and associates at the American Colony in Jerusalem. More than 3,200 images cover the years 1870 to 1951, with the bulk dating from 1900 to 1940. The heart of the collection is twenty-eight photograph albums that offer a visual narrative through many captioned images. There are also panoramic photos, stereographs, individual photo prints, transparencies, and negatives. John D. Whiting (1882-1951), other American Colony photographers (including Eric Matson and Lewis Larsson), and the Matson Photo Service took most of the images, some of which are hand-colored.
A major part of the collection portrays people, places, events, architecture, and historic sites in Palestine (present-day Israel, West Bank and the Gaza Strip); Lebanon; Jordan; Syria; and Turkey. Especially significant are two albums documenting Palestine during World War I and the early British Mandate period. The "Diaries in Photos" albums include photographs taken primarily by Whiting during his 1930s trips in the Middle East with tourists, British officials, family, friends, and others. Many other albums depict the lives and activities of American Colony members, such as the Whiting and Vester families. Images show their residences, trips, social gatherings, charitable works, and friends and associates.
The papers of John D. Whiting, businessman, photographer, author, tour guide, and intelligence officer, were given to the Library of Congress by Wendy Whiting Blome and John F. Whiting in 2005-2006.
John D. Whiting (1882-1951) was a notable member of the American Colony, a Christian community of Americans, Swedes, and others based in Jerusalem. Born in 1882, a year after his parents John C. and Mary Whiting immigrated to Jerusalem with other Colony members, Whiting lived most of his life in the city. In 1909, he married Grace Spafford (1881-1964) the daughter of Horatio and Anna Spafford, the Colony's founders. The Whitings raised three children; sons Spafford, David, and Edmund Wilson. A daughter, Grace, died in infancy in 1915.
John Whiting led a varied and multi-faceted professional life in Jerusalem. He worked with the American Colony Photo Department as a photographer and also helped run the business. With his brother-in-law, Frederick Vester, he was a partner and manager of the Vester & Co.-American Colony Store near the Jaffa Gate, where American Colony Photo Department prints, lantern slides, and postcard images were sold along with other merchandise. He was involved in starting a short-lived New York City branch of the American Colony Store, which failed due to economic recession. Whiting was fluent in Arabic. He collected antiquities such as pottery and figurines that were sold at the store, as well as Palestinian needlework and other artifacts. From 1908 to around 1915, Whiting was deputy American consul for Jerusalem, specializing in issues of commerce and agriculture. During World War I he supplied aid to wounded soldiers as a volunteer with the Turkish Red Crescent and the American Colony Nurses. In 1918 he began service as an intelligence officer for the British Army. Whiting had widespread knowledge of the landscapes and historic sites of the Middle East. He often guided visitors on tours of Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. He wrote numerous articles for National Geographic Magazine illustrated with photographs produced by the American Colony Photo Department and its successor studio, the Matson Photo Service. (See Selected Bibliography).
Twenty-two of the Whiting Collection albums were selected for digitization and are available in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/) along with descriptive information. These album images can be seen in two viewing arrangements:
Selected individual images from other albums and photographs in the collection are also available online. The digital scans were made by a contractor, DataTrac, in 2007 and 2008. We ask researchers to use the digital images to help preserve the original materials.
All P&P Whiting collection materials are listed below with links to online images or descriptive information in PPOC. The list is organized in two categories: "Views, Events, and People of the Middle East" and "American Colony Life, Members, and Associates," based on the predominant subject of the images.
Views, Events, and People of the Middle East
Diary in photos, vol. I, 1934-1935
Diary in photos, vol. II, 1936-1937
Diary in photos, vol. III, 1938
Diary in photos, vol. IV, 1938
Diary in photos, vol. V, 1939
Trip to Cappadocia, 1935, vol. I
Trip to Cappadocia, 1935, vol. II
World War I in Palestine and the Sinai
World War I and the British Mandate in Palestine
Meetings of British, Arab, and Bedouin officials in Amman, Jordan, April 1921
Hand-colored photographs of Jerusalem and Palestine
Photographs of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bedouins in Jordan and other locations
Photographs of the West Bank, Jordan, and Syria
Photographs of architectural monuments in Jerusalem, Syria, and Egypt
Photographs of the Dead Sea and surrounding area
Photographs of Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria
Dead Sea album prepared for the Palestine Potash Ltd
Photographs of irises
Middle East views and American Colony members
Panoramic photographs of Jerusalem and Haifa
Photographs of Jerusalem gates and other structures (Robertson and Beato)
Call number: PR 13 CN 2006:051:48
American Colony Life, Members, and Associates
Members and activities of the American Colony (Jerusalem)
Studio portraits of members of the American Colony (Jerusalem), friends, and associates
Portraits of the Whiting and Spafford families and other members of the American Colony (Jerusalem)
Portraits of the Vester and Whiting families and other members of the American Colony (Jerusalem)
Portraits of members of the American Colony (Jerusalem), friends, and associates
Members of the American Colony (Jerusalem) and trips
Photographs of an American Colony (Jerusalem) bazaar
Photographs of members of the American Colony (Jerusalem) and Middle East locations
Photographs related to the American Colony (Jerusalem) and ancient inscriptions
Portraits taken in Jerusalem by the Krikorian studio
Stereographs of the American Colony and Jerusalem
Users may download images themselves or can order copies through the Library of Congress Duplication Services. Orders must include the reproduction number of the desired image. Example: LC-DIG-ppmsca-17414-00009.
No restrictions are known on publication or other forms of distribution of the images in the John D. Whiting Collection. Please cite the source of the image with the credit line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-ppmsca-17414-00009].
In the Prints & Photographs Division:
G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection:
Elsewhere in the Library of Congress
Manuscript Division: http://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/
John D. Whiting Papers: Includes diaries, correspondence, subject files, caption lists, photographs and albums including one of the 1915 locust plague in Palestine.
New acquisitions: John D. Whiting papers:
The American Colony in Jerusalem, 1870-2006:
American Colony of Jerusalem Papers:
Virtual exhibit: The American Colony in Jerusalem:
Whiting, John D. Samaritanernas pa°skfest i ord och bild: bibliska blodsoffer i va°ra dagar (Samaritans Passover in Words and Pictures: Biblical Blood Sacrifice in our Day). Stockholm: Bonnier, 1917. (Photographs by Lewis Larsson). LC Call Number: BM910 .W48 1917
National Geographic Magazine (NGM) articles written by John D. Whiting
"Among the Bethlehem Shepherds." NGM 50 (December 1926): 729-753
"Bedouin Life in Bible Lands: the Nomads of the 'House of Hair' Offer Unstinted Hospitality to an American." NGM 71 (January 1937): 58-83
"Bethlehem and the Christmas Story." NGM 56 (December 1929): 699-736
"Canoeing down the River Jordan." NGM 78 (December 1940): 781-808
"From Jerusalem to Aleppo." NGM 24 (January 1913): 71-113
"Jerusalem's Locust Plague." NGM 28 (December 1915): 511:550.
"Last Israelitish Blood Sacrifice." NGM 37 (January 1920):1-46.
"Petra, Ancient Caravan Stronghold." NGM 67 (February 1935): 129-165
"Village life in the Holy Land." NGM 25 (March 1914): 249-314
"Where Early Christians Lived in Cones of Rock: A Journey in Cappadocia in Turkey." NGM 76 (December 1939): 763-802.
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