Home / news / Rare photos and videos of Egypt a century ago … documentation of a history that has almost disappeared

Rare photos and videos of Egypt a century ago … documentation of a history that has almost disappeared

Have you ever wished that the time machine was a real invention, that would transport you to a past time that you lived or heard about from your parents and grandparents?

Certainly many people have had this dream, and with it questions and passion about how Egyptians lived in the last century, what they were wearing, what they would eat, and where to go.

And because the time machine is just an imaginary wish, some history and documentation lovers have taken upon themselves the task of fulfilling part of this dream by documenting the daily lives of Egyptians with pictures and videos, and the development of technology, the Internet and social media helped them access more local and international archival resources that were not previously available.

Among young people who loved the history of their country and harnessed modern technology to collect and publish it, and sheikhs who found a history that they lived is almost disappearing and decided to revive it and present it to new generations, many initiatives documenting the history of Egyptians appeared.

These efforts were widely welcomed by the pioneers of social networking sites, prompting many followers to participate with their photos and videos to support these ideas.

A rural Egyptian woman with her son from the archive documenting the life of Egyptians in the last century (communication sites)

Realistic Documentation of Egypt

The young Egyptian accountant Ahmed Al-Tanikhi’s passion for history, and his longing for his homeland during his years of exile, led him to the initiative of realistic documentation of the Egyptian street, through rare videos and thousands of pictures of the lives of Egyptians during the past decades, which he published on his Facebook page.

Instead of presenting pictures of famous personalities and public events, Al-Tanikhi turned to documenting the daily life of the average Egyptian citizen during the past century, at home, on the street, and while working in factories and fields.

The rare videos and photos published by the initiative present a hearty historical meal, explaining how Egyptians lived, the fashion of their clothes, their types of food, their means of transportation, and the nature of the relations between them.

Live footage from the dock of a train station in Egypt in 1942, showing the moment of the recruits bidding farewell to their families, and an older Egyptian in a popular cafe in 1938 while they listen to the radio, which received a wide welcome among the pioneers of the communication sites.

And through rare videos and photos, you can walk the streets of Cairo in the forties or seventies, whichever you like, to accompany the Egyptians while they go to their work or school in the crowded morning of Cairo, or live with them moments of anticipation and sadness during the defeat of June 1967, or share their overwhelming joy with the victory of October / October 1973, or perhaps you would rather go back years further and share an Egyptian family in 1938 with their delicious breakfast on the roof of their home.

Restoration and coloring

Al-Tanikhi was not satisfied with accessing rare photos and video clips, but he used his technical expertise in restoring and coloring these archival materials, so that the Egyptians see the lives of their fathers and grandfathers in vibrant colors instead of the distinctive black and white to document this historical period, which caused a wide positive resonance among his followers who Their number exceeded 90,000 followers on Facebook.

The Realistic Documentation Initiative faces financial difficulties in obtaining some historical materials due to its high financial cost, according to Al-Tunikhi’s statements to some local media outlets, but on the other hand, he found another resource for his initiative, which is the pictures that his followers send him, whether they are family or public photos.

Makram Salama Archive

Despite his years of age that exceeded 70, the Egyptian Makram Salama, the most famous collector of documents and heritage in Egypt, did not stop his journey in saving and documenting the photographed archive of the life of Egyptians in general and cinematic heritage in particular, and his participation with researchers and interested parties.

“Uncle Makram” – as his followers call him – was able during 40 years of research to collect more than half a million rare pictures and documents related to life in Egypt since the rule of the Muhammad Ali family until now, most of which were obtained in the form of “negative” by tracking old photographers. Photography studios, movie production companies, and scrap dealers.

The Makram Salama archive includes thousands of rare photos of Egyptians and their daily lives in the streets of Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and other governorates, as well as pictures of rulers and public figures in Egypt such as members of the royal family and leaders of the republic period such as Muhammad Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat.

The cinematic heritage is of particular interest to Makram’s uncle, besides the pictures of most of the stars of art in Egypt and the rare shots of scenes filming their works, he was able to own advertisements (posters) for more than two thousand Egyptian films, some of which were left only for these propaganda papers.

Makram’s uncle was not satisfied with what he publishes on his Facebook page, but he donated to the Library of Alexandria thousands of rare photos and historical documents, including documents related to the construction of railways in Egypt – he found them with a garbage collector – in addition to donating a rare archive of the films of the Egyptian-Jewish director of Italian origin “Togo Mizrahi” He is one of the first directors of Egyptian cinema.

“Qasakis Gray”

Another method of documenting the life and history of Egyptians during the past decades was taken by the blogger Wael Abbas by launching a Facebook page called “Qasais Old Pages”, in which he published clippings from newspapers, magazines and old books containing political and artistic news and various advertisements.

The page includes dozens of rare videos of historical events such as the opening of King Fouad to one of the mines and the unveiling of the statue of the Renaissance of Egypt, scenes of the opening of the Corniche in the early fifties, President Sadat’s visit to Suez in 1976 and his speech on the occasion of Labor Day, and footage of Egyptians pouring into banks to donate during the October 1973 War. Next to a lot of rare old TV ads.

Between the popular and the official

Social networking sites are full of dozens of pages and other groups interested in documenting the past decades of the lives of Egyptians, the most famous of which is the People of Egypt Once Upon a Time page with its slogan “Egypt that our eyes have not seen,” which is followed by nearly 3 million people on Facebook, and recently headed to the launch of a YouTube channel. To publish the clips of this historical era.

On the other hand, official efforts in preserving, documenting and disseminating Egyptian heritage to the public are almost limited to the Library of Alexandria and its project “The Memory of Contemporary Egypt”, which is a digital repository to document the last 200 years of Egypt’s modern history, which includes tens of thousands of different materials, including documents, pictures, audio and video recordings. And maps.

Those in charge of this rich archive are content with publishing it on the website, without paying attention to publishing some of its materials on social networking sites despite their wide popularity and spread, leaving the arena open for popular and individual initiatives to monopolize this wide and diverse audience.

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