Photo collection

The collection consists of around 120,000 historical photographs, some dating as far back as the 1860s, with motifs drawn from all parts of the world. The shots of landscapes, settlements, people, plants and animals, etc. comprise documents revealing geographical research practice over the last 150 years. The pictures' authors are well-known travel photographers such as Samuel Bourne, Albert Frisch, Marc Ferrez or Pascal Sebah. A part of the collection of historical photographs is researchable in the online catalogue  of the Central Geographical Library.

Aerial pictures

Numerous aerial pictures from the picture archive reach back to the beginnings of aerial photography. Ernst Wandersleb, the balloonist and Carl-Zeiss physicist (1879–1963) photographed large parts of Germany from the air between 1905 and 1913. The pictures show structures of settlements and natural landscapes, cloud formations and events centred around balloon travel. Also forming part of the collection are aerial pictures by the Augsburg-based balloon-maker and aerial pioneer August Riedinger (1845–1919), which are similarly of much interest for historians of photography, aviation and geography.

All photographs of the Wandersleb and Riedinger collections can be researched online. The collection of aerial pictures have appeared in two pictorial volumes, produced by Lehmstedt Verlag (publishers): "Mitteldeutschland in frühen Luftbildern" (Central Germany in Early Aerial Pictures) (more) and  "Ritter der Lüfte" (Knights of the Air) (more).

Photographs on colonial-geographic themes

One of the most extensive collections of pictures from the African colonies of the Kaiser’s German Empire comes from the Colonial-Geographic Institute of the University of Leipzig. Most of the ca. 5,000 photos originate from expeditions undertaken by the colonial geographers and researchers of Africa, at the start of the 20th century in the then German colonies of Togo, Cameroon, German East Africa (now Tanzania) and German South-West Africa (now Namibia). These are supplemented by photos from research trips into the colonial areas of the British, French and Belgian overseas empires.

South America photos

The attractions of the photo collection include the stock of pictures from South America. The oldest of the ca. 10,000 photographs date back to around 1868; known as the "Alphons Stübel Collection", it formed the core element of the archive for travelling researchers after it was founded in 1902. The geologists Alphons Stübel (1835–1904) and  Wilhelm Reiss (1838–1908) had undertaken extensive studies on several research trips in the Andes region. The collections from  Hans Meyer (1858–1929),  Rudolf Hauthal (1854–1928),  Hans Steffen (1865–1936) and Carl Troll (1899–1975) supplement the stock of historical pictures from South America.



15.04.2018 to 20.04.2018, Perm, Russia

The city in the spotlight – methodological and epistemological challenges of studying urban governance

Call for applications: Spring School, 15–20 April 2018, Perm State University, Russia  

17.04.2018, Berlin

The Arctic: potential for conflict and cooperation

Lecture and discussion with Nadir Kinossian (IfL), Christoph Humrich (Groningen University) and Heidi Kassens... 

24.05.2018 to 26.05.2018, Jena

Globalization and digitization — (new) geoinformation relationships in the world

Interdisciplinary workshop from 24 to 26 May 2018 in Jena 


Kinossian, Nadir
Cities as haunted landscapes. -
In: City & society, 2018
Bruns, Bettina
Small-scale smuggling (general). -
In: The global encyclopaedia of informality/ 2. - The global encyclopaedia of informality / Edited by Alena Ledeneva. - London : UCL Press, 2018, Seite 90-94
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