Ambedkar University Delhi

View of Parliament building,Rajpath, 1980s_ Christoff Fanjat Collection

View from the Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, 1973_ LNP Collection. 

Photo from the Air Raid Precaution Drill in Delhi, Narain Prasad, 1941. 

Akali procession in front of the Red Fort_ Jan Friese Collection

Cameras of the Past

The 'Cameras of the Past' project is an ongoing initiative that attempts to digitize photographs and other visual memorablia that tell stories of the people of Delhi. This initiative has been realized through many of the ongoing projects in the centre - through family photographs found during Neighbourhood Museum research, through the 'Cameras of the Past' project where collections from different families were acquired, and other institutional and individual sources of old photographs of Delhi.

The aim of digitizing Delhi's visual past, as captured by a camera, was to make an online Peoples History Photo Archive of Delhi. 

As a part of this initiative, several collections have been donated to the centre. The first of the collections was the Lala Narain Prasad Collection. The digitization of the photographs was done on-site from 2013 onwards. Lala Narain Prasad was a photographer since the late 1930s. Upon his death in 2016, many of his photos were discarded, and they are presently only available in digital form, due to the timely digitization efforts of the project. 

Some of the smaller collections include the Fozan Ali Ahmed collection. His khala, the last of the survivors from the time period in which the photos were clicked, has very kindly spent time explaining the context of many of the photos. Custodian of the Jan Freise collection, Kai Freise, has also spent much time elaborating the life and times of his photographer father who has captured the flavour of Delhi's emerging cultures in his photographs. Many other collections; including the Christoff Fanjat collection, Gossi's Collection, Raj Chouhan's collection; are currently being digitized. 

Visual histories as it emerged in digitizing old photographs, has made the centre venture into terrains of visual anthropology in order to decipher the scope and significance of many of the photographs. A consultative meeting of experts on Delhi was held in early 2016 to identify some of the sites and locations, people and cultural specificities of the time. Foraying into the visual anthropologies that a photograph or other visual memoirs contatin has been an extremely enriching lens to look at peoples memory and public histories of an ever-changing city. 

Political gathering with J. Nehru in the lead, 1940s_ Narain Prasad Collection

Selection of photographs from various collection from the Delhi Visual Histories Archives. 


Centre for Community Knowledge