Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

The American Colony in Jerusalem, 1870-2006 (Library of Congress)

The American Colony in Jerusalem, 1870-2006 – http://www.loc.gov/collection/american-colony-in-jerusalem/about-this-collection/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  •  What does a plague of locusts look like?
  • What was life like in 19th Century Jerusalem?
  • What would motivate American Christians to move to Jerusalem?


The American Colony in Jerusalem was a utopian Christian Colony in 1886 by people who thought that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent. This site links to papers, photographs, maps and diaries of colonists. Most of the 10,000 items are in English, but some material is in Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and Swedish.

The collection may be searched by keyword, or browsed by title, name or subject. It would probably be helpful to read the introductory essay “A Community in Jerusalem” and the colony timeline before digging heavily into the collection.

When pulling up letters and other written materials, go for the higher photo resolutions for best reading results.

Story Ideas:

Writers who are contemplating strange animal disasters or dramatizing the book of Exodus ought to consider reading the site essay The Locust Plague of 1915 Photograph Album. According to the essay:

The American Colony also played an important historic role in documenting the 1915 invasion as a major social and economic event, as well as one of scientific interest. At the behest of Djemal (Jamal) Pasha, Lewis Larsson, the head of the American Colony Photo Department, worked with the assistance of Lars Lind and John D. Whiting to record the 1915 destruction. Larsson photographed the various methods that American Colony members and other Jerusalemites used to try to control the onslaught. He undertook a series of carefully staged studio “insect portraits” in which American Colony photographers captured details of the physical nature of individual locusts and their various stages of molting. And he supervised the compilation of selected images of the plague into photographic albums created by the American Colony photo service. These albums contained hand-tinted photographic prints that graphically captured the story of the invasion, conveyed in dramatic fashion.



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