Skip to main content

Volume III, 1910-1914

 Item — Volume: 3

Content Description

From the Collection:

Livingston Biddle, Sr. (1877-1959), a nephew of George W. Childs Drexel (1868-1944), compiled the three albums in this collection, which document international voyages the family took from 1905 to 1914 on George Drexel’s yacht, Alcedo. The albums record at least two separate journeys. The photographs depict landscapes from the deck of the Alcedo, cities, rural areas, and religious sites, and the activities of the travel party. These activities include sightseeing, hunting, and meeting people native to the areas visited and European colonizers. The captions for many of the candid portraits of native people comment on their dress, customs, and culture from a denigrating colonial perspective. The collection reflects the viewpoint of wealthy American tourists traveling through the Middle East, Asia, and Africa at the turn of the twentieth century.

In Volume I, the Alcedo appears to begin a journey in Lisbon, Portugal, passing by Cadiz, Spain, and continuing through the Strait of Gibraltar toward Crete, where the group stops at ancient ruins. Some time is spent in modern-day Syria and Lebanon, with photographs featuring the city of Damascus and the Roman ruins of Baalbek. The group explores Jerusalem and Bethlehem and the surrounding area. Travel continues through the Suez Canal to stops in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and cities in Sudan and Ethiopia. (Captions describe the region as Abyssinia.) After a stop in Aden, Yemen, the Alcedo makes port in Mumbai (captioned Bombay) and the Drexels spend time sightseeing and hunting. Various Indian cities and religious sites are depicted as the group travels inland.

The journey depicted in Volume II, perhaps a continuation of Volume I, begins in Burma and includes stops in Thailand and Singapore. The group tours Garut (Garoet in captions), Indonesia (West Java), and spends time in the Malaysian territory of Borneo (identified by city name and Borneo in captions). A sequence of images captures aspects of the American colonization of the Philippines. Two photographs taken by a different photographer and dated December 1906 depict the body of a man whom American soldiers shot repeatedly after he reportedly rushed the group in Zamboanga. They visit Manila and Taal Lake and its volcano. Sailing north to China, the group first stops in modern-day Guangzhou (Canton in captions) and follows the coast, stopping in other Chinese cities and Taiwan. There are many views of Shanghai and Beijing (Peking in captions), including a series of photographs depicting a beheading. The party appears to stop briefly in Korea before beginning the last leg of their travels in Japan. This volume contains violent images that may be offensive or harmful to researchers.

Volume III begins in the Canary and Azores islands. Photographs depict Iran, Muscat in Oman, and Karachi, Pakistan (India at that time, reflected in captions). There are views of Delhi, Jaipur, and Jodhpur. The largest section of photographs in the album portrays time spent in Mombasa and Nairobi, Kenya (British East Africa in captions). According to one caption, in Nairobi a Kikuyu chief, his family, and a group of warriors visited the Drexel party from a nearby village, and the warriors performed a war dance. The American tourists are shown speaking with the chief and his family.

The group follows a section of the route of the Smithsonian Roosevelt African Expedition of 1909, beginning in Mombasa and traveling north to Khartoum in modern-day Sudan by way of Nairobi and Lake Victoria. The Drexel men are depicted posing with large plains animals shot during their own big game hunting trip. After the hunting excursion and time in Nairobi, the group travels to Victoria Falls and other stops in Uganda, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. The Alcedo appears to leave Mozambique from Maputo Bay and sails along the southern tip of Africa to Cape Town, South Africa. They continue up the west coast, stopping at many coastal colonies including Luanda, Angola (St. Paolo de Loanda in caption); Cotonou, Benin; Accra, Ghana; Monrovia, Liberia; Freetown, Sierra Leone; and Dakar, Senegal. At the end of the trip, the Alcedo stops in Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, and Portugal. On the return voyage to the United States, the group stays at the historic Hamilton hotel in Bermuda.


  • 1910-1914

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.


From the Collection: 1.3 Cubic Feet (3 volumes)

Language of Materials