Collecting Sevruguin's Photographs

The OI’s collection of Sevruguin photographs was assembled by Mary Clarke, a Protestant missionary in Iran. Clarke worked first in Tabriz as the principal of the Girls’ Mission School (1880–1883), and then in Tehran as assistant superintendent of the Boys’ High School (1892–1898). In 1901 Clarke donated 157 Sevruguin photographs to the OI; several were later lent out and never returned, leaving 152 original photographs in the collection today. Clarke’s collecting preferences were shaped by what would have been appropriate for a female missionary to possess. Conspicuous by their absence are pictures of nude or partially clothed women, which are common in some other Sevruguin collections. Also, very few of Sevruguin’s more violent photographs are present. In contrast, Clarke primarily collected pictures of traditional Iran in addition to photographs of monuments and the royal family.

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