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Vintage Postcards Show 19th-Century Tunisia in Color

Photography By
Tunisia
Bab Suika-Suker Square, Tunis (Library of Congress)

 

There’s no time machine required for experiencing Tunisian life in 1899. These early postcards give you a peek into aspects of the North African country that have largely vanished.

Pulled from the Library of Congress archives, these photochroms, a colorized predecessor to the postcard, serve as a visual record of the country in the peaceful years before its battle for independence. During the 19th century, much of the African continent was carved up by competing European colonial powers, and France ended up with much of North Africa, including Tunisia. After formally taking it over in 1881, the French governed the country until it became an independent state in 1956.

Taken at the cusp of the 20th century, the photochroms offer a glimpse of the growing European influence on Tunisian culture, as well as a look at the daily lives of Tunisians living under French rule. Hawk-eyed viewers of these images will be able to spot men in Western-style garb, along with examples of French colonialism in the ornate palaces of Tunis and cathedrals, such as St. Louis in Carthage. Despite the colonial influences, you can still find traditional Tunisian street merchants and open-air markets dotting the cityscape.

Take a journey into Tunisia’s past with the photochroms below.

 

Tunisia
Worshippers leaving mosque, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Group before Bab Aleona, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Cathedral of St. Louis, Carthage, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Private drawing room, I, Kasr-el-Said, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Sousse, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Souc-el-Trouk, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
A traveling cook, Kairwan, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Bardo, the throne room, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Sadiky Hospital, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Tombs and view of Goletta, Carthage, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Museum garden, II, Carthage, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Street in Kairwan, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Outside a Moorish cafe, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Market in Kairwan, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Bedouin beggars and children, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Kasbah market, Tunis, Tunisia (Library of Congress)
Tunisia
Tunisians in Tunis (Library of Congress)

 

Check out more vintage postcards from Havana and Rome.

RealClearLife Staff