Aleppo to Euphrates, July 19. Rusafa. The pearly gates of alabaster.
(American Colony Photo Department /Library of Congress)

John D. Whiting (1882-1951), worked as a tour guide, businessman, writer and photographer throughout the Middle East. Whiting was a member of the American Colony in Jerusalem, which had been established by Christian religious pilgrims from the United States and Sweden as a utopia.

An extensive visual history of the colony exists due to the American Colony Photo Department (1898-1940) and its successor, the Matson Photo Service, in which Whiting participated as a photographer and businessman. The photo department proved lucrative for the colony as the demand for images from the region increased and profits were used to improve living conditions for the colonists.

He, along with other photographers in the department, kept extensive visual diaries that  include photographs taken primarily during the 1930s depicting daily life in the Middle East, as well as life in the colony. Photographs in this collection show Whiting’s travels from June 30 to Dec. 31, 1938, including a trip to Syria for National Geographic, Palestine (present-day Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and Lebanon. His work, and the work of the American Colony Photo Department and Matson Photo Service, can be viewed at the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.


Kamar ed Din Series. Damascus, August. Folding Kamer ed Din like bolts of cloth. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

An Arab cabaret in Damascus. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Deir Ez Zor, July 22. Donkey balks at passing car on narrow bridge. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Kamar ed Din Series. Damascus, August. Hand-sawing of logs into planks.
(American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Returning from Damascus. Nazareth laundress. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Traveling with Mr. Moore for National Geographic Society. An “Oshr” tree (Sodom apple). (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Anezeh Camp, Ain Aissa, July 20. A woman’s litter on a young camel.
(American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Assyrian refugees at Tell-Tamar and the Khabour River, July 21. Primitive irrigating water-wheels erected by Assyrians. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

July 13. Tripoli. Fishermen drawing in their nets. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

July 16. Treibe. The village well.
(American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Road to North Syria, July 12. Tell Biseh. Sunset. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Camels loaded with sheaves near Baalbek, Lebanon. (American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)

Returning from Damascus, “Teggart’s Wall” fences off Syria from Palestine.
(American Colony Photo Department/Library of Congress)