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About De Animorum Immortalitate.

Welcome to De Animorum Immortalitate, a small selection of photographs from the private collection of Adam An-tAthair-Síoraí.

How It Works.

On the right hand side of your screen are listed the Town Categories. Each town where a photographer has works in the collection is listed and linked here. To view the images from an entire town, simply click on the name.

Photographs are also listed by Photographer’s – or Studio / Atelier – name, address, and, where given, date. To access these images, enter the information you are seeking in the Search box, at the top right hand side of the screen. Bear in mind that if you are searching for a specific photographer, the Search will give you every recorded instance for that name from this collection. When searching for a date – such as 1890 – enter verse: 1890. This pulls out all reverse and obverse dates, but not the image catalogue number.

Please remember that over the last one hundred years or so there have been many geographical and political changes within Europe, causing the moving of borders and many name changes. Town names listed reflect the name given on the individual photographs, regardless of whether it is still used or not. So, for example, the German town of Kassel may be referred to as Cassel (the name changed in 1925) and Bruchhausen-Vilsen can also appear as Vilsen or as Bruchhausen. Köln might appear as Cologne, Cöln or even Coeln. Some smaller towns have also been absorbed over time: Gröplingen and Sebaldsbrück, for example, are now suburbs of Bremen. And, finally, some areas attempted to keep their identities for as long as possible, so we have Linden, then Linden-Hannover, then Hannover-Linden and, now, just Hannover. Unfortunately this also means that someone could move across several categories without ever changing their studio address. Then there are towns like Saalfeld, which is listed both as Saalfeld a. Saale and Saalfeld i.Thüringen (the first is the river Saale, the second the State).

History of the Collection.

De Animorum Immortalitate initially comprised a collection of photographs linked to Germany – in fact it began as a collection of postcards, artifacts and images connected to a specific town. As the collection has grown the area of interest has grown and changed too, as has the selection of photographs and photographers available. The collection now concentrates on photography from the first commercial images, through to the 1920s.

It is marked as a Private Collection, for several reasons: the collection is not financed by any government or institution, nor is it open to the public under normal circumstances; the financing and cataloguing work is entirely private.

Over the years many of the ‘public’ collections approached, and many of the towns where images have been included, showed either no interest in this collection whatsoever, or displayed an attitude of arrogance and unhelpfulness which precludes any interest in working with them at any time in the future. To this end it is my pleasure to specifically name – and shame – the Stadtarchiv Nienburg, the Stadtarchiv Bruchhausen-Vilsen, and the town hall of Verden for their, at times, exceptionally rude responses to offers, on my part, to share information and images.

The Images.

Many of these photographs are unique; there would have been very few copies made and then only for personal use. The glass plates, the negatives, might still exist but, after two World Wars and many upheavals in Europe, with the changes in ownership, opening and closing of studios, it is unlikely unless a museum or town archive was wise enough to take a chance and accept or purchase a collection.

Most of these images remain nameless. With the passage of time, it becomes harder to find out who has been photographed, what their life was like – short or long – whether it was a successful life, a happy one, a fruitful one. People knew who was in the image, and so felt no need to write names and dates to aid their memories. The living memory, for most of these photographs, has passed on, as have those caught for a brief moment in their lives, and can never be recaptured.

Sources.

The bulk of these photographs have been privately purchased at flea markets or through the internet, often from people with no connection to the original owners or families. One or two have been donated by those who no longer know of their family connections, no longer know who these family members were. Donations of photographs to expand and enhance the collection are always more than welcome!


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