The Photograph Albums of the New Zealand Presbyterian Mission to the New Hebrides

Author: Lubcke, Antje

Date: 2009

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

Link to this item using this URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9300

University of Otago

Abstract

While it has been acknowledged that photographs are valuable sources for the historian, photograph albums have yet to receive the same level of critical attention. This thesis traces the social biographies of seven photograph albums held at the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand archives in order to understand how the narratives contained inside are constructed, as well as to uncover the trajectories of the albums through different social and physical spaces. The albums relate to the Presbyterian Church’s New Hebrides (Vanuatu) mission field, which was established in 1869, and all date to the early twentieth century. While the majority of the photographs contained in these albums were taken with an official function in mind, namely the documentation and propagation of the mission work, it is the ways in which they are ordered, juxtaposed and framed on the pages that determines their meaning. This shift in focus from the contents of photographs to their placement in a visual narrative constructed by a missionary working in the New Hebrides or a mission organisation in New Zealand leads to a classification of the albums that ranges from public to private – from a presentation album compiled to garner support and raise funds for the mission, to a more personal storehouse of images of friends and family in the islands. Further, by approaching these albums as not only collections of photographs but also as objects that traversed certain social and physical spaces it has been possible to uncover the changing meanings attached to them over time. What this thesis demonstrates is that the seven New Hebrides photograph albums are more complex historical objects than they may appear at first glance.

Subjects: Photography, Photograph albums, New Hebrides, Missions

Citation: ["Lubcke, A. (2009). The Photograph Albums of the New Zealand Presbyterian Mission to the New Hebrides (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9300"]

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