"The Unwritten History": Alexander Gumby's African America

Gumby's Culture > Imagining Africa, Part One


Scrapbook 87:
"The Negro in Africa, pt. 2,"
p. [55 verso, flap open]

Due to a combination of Gumby's interests and circumstances, his "Negro scrapbook collection" is largely devoted to the United States. Yet his interest in a broader African diaspora is evident throughout. Take his volume on the "Negro in Stamps," for example, which includes sections on Haiti, Liberia, and Ethiopia. He also organized several scrapbooks on "The Negro in Africa," which largely collated clippings (like those on the page reproduced here) from American publications describing Africa in an anthropological, historical, or geopolitical light.

Presented as collage (Gumby's eagerness to juxtapose images resulted here in his use of two foldout flaps--visible on the left--to maximize page space), such pages provide an insightful overview of Western imagery of Africa in the first half of the twentieth century. This was certainly the message received by a Nigerian visitor who viewed Gumby's scrapbooks and added his own commentary to them. As his note at the top of the page reads: "This is a typical brand of Whiteman's version of Africans--let everyman remember that, when you visit another land, you see only what you came to see."


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