I’ve created a new website to share a rare book of historic Bahá’í photographs dating from approximately 1898. Images of the interior of the most holy tomb, the Garden of Ridván, the Most Great Prison, early Bahji, Akka, Haifa, and others are included. Scholarly commentary for each photograph and a general overview were written by Prof. Duane Troxel. References are included for further study. The scans are very high quality and are also downloadable in PDF format.
The 42 hand-tinted photographs that make up the core of this publication were scanned from an early Bahá’í publication whose title page states: Views of Acca, Haifa, Mt. Carmel, and Other Places, published by the Bahá’í Publishing Society, Chicago, U.S.A. The book has been mentioned in The Baha’i World and Star of the West. One of the things which makes this book so extraordinary, besides its age, historical importance, and the coloring of the pictures is that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá approved the images Himself. The title page declares: “These photographs were duly authorized by ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ and are placed in this form for the benefit of those who long to see the dwelling place of the most high.”
The image above is a composite of the original title page and a hand colored photograph of Mt. Carmel in Haifa as it appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, now it’s a bustling cosmopolitan city. Many travel posters prominently feature its most noticeable landmark, the Bahá’í gardens and the world administrative center located within them.
This website would not have been possible without the help of the book’s owner, Erica Toussaint, who made the patient and helpful suggestions that enhanced its usability. The high quality scans were done by Bill Dvorak. I treated the scans as Camera Raw images in Photoshop and applied recovery, noise reduction, clarity, and vibrance filters to enhance their presentation. The website is located at http://www.viewsofakka.com/.
Mt. Carmel today.
Mt. Carmel during the time of Bahá’u’lláh.