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The Photographs Biographical Information Project Notes Comments Technical Information Copyright Information and Terms of Usage View Photographs


The photographs

Distribution map of Bushmen languages
Distribution map of
Bushmen languages, as drawn by Dorothea Bleek

Map of corresponding area (circa 1891)
Map of corresponding area
 (circa 1891)

The 310 photographs available here appear in an album of photographs taken by Dorothea Bleek during her many expeditions to identify and record the San (Bushman) languages of Southern Africa. They date from her first expedition in 1910, when she visited Prieska and Kenhardt in the northern Cape in South Africa, up to trips made in the 1920s.

The album is part of the Bleek and Lloyd Collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Department at the University of Cape Town Libraries.

The Collection is listed in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register as a collection of unique world significance.

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Dorothea Bleek (1873 - 1948)

Dorothea Bleek Photograph
Dorothea Bleek

Page from one of Dorothea Bleek's notebooks
Page from one of Dorothea's notebooks discussing image number 090

Dorothea Bleek was the fifth daughter of Dr Wilhelm Bleek, the noted philologist, who, with his sister-in-law, Lucy Lloyd, did an enormous and pioneering job of recording the language and folklore of the /Xam and the !Kung in the late 19th century. Dorothea Bleek continued the work of her father and aunt, recording and documenting the San languages of Southern Africa and publishing books and articles based both on her own work and theirs. Her most important work, published after her death, was A Bushman Dictionary.

She undertook many expeditions in the course of her research on the different San groups, their languages and rock art. In 1910 she visited the area near Prieska in the northern Cape, from where some of the San informants interviewed by her father and aunt had originated. Subsequent travels included trips to other parts of the northern Cape, the eastern Transvaal, South West Africa (present Namibia), Bechuanaland (Botswana), Angola and Tanganyika (Tanzania). Locations

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All 310 photographs in the album have been scanned. Although the image numbers indicate the position of each photograph in the album, it is suspected that some of the photographs may have been moved from the order as originally placed by Dorothea Bleek. Annotations on the backs of the photographs are in Dorothea Bleek's handwriting. We have transcribed them as faithfully as possible to the original.

The average size of the photographs is 14x9 cm.

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Comments and suggestions

This is the first digital imaging project at the University of Cape Town Libraries. We would appreciate any comments or suggestions to help us improve this project or to design further projects. Please e-mail any comments to

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Technical information

The photographs were scanned in 8-bit gray scale at 600 dpi on an Epson Expression XL40 flatbed scanner. No enhancement was done on the master images (in TIFF format). However, some of the images shown here have been brightened to allow greater clarity.

Metadata and design: Kate Murray, with assistance from Janine Dunlop
Scanner: Emma Sealy
Coordinator and accompanying text: Lesley Hart

Additional technical information is available.

This project was presented in the poster session at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) annual meeting held on August 18th - 24th 2002, in Glasgow, Scotland. Both the introduction and the graphic poster are available in PDF format. NB: The graphic poster file is very large.

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Copyright information and terms of usage

The text and images appearing in these pages are under copyright to the University of Cape Town.

You may view or download an image, providing this is done only for the purposes of private research and/or study.

You may also display a single personal copy for purposes of an academic lecture or seminar, provided that no further duplication occurs or is allowed to occur.

You may not duplicate the image in any medium for another person or institution.

If you wish to reproduce any of the images in any publication, films or electronic medium, you must obtain written permission from the University of Cape Town Libraries and negotiate a fee for such a purpose.

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