Casimir Zagourski, of Polish parentage, was born in the Ukraine in 1880. After a military career in the Russian air force and the Polish army, he left Eastern Europe and moved to Africa in 1924, settling in Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, Congo, where he began his career as a photographer. During the next seventeen years, until his death in 1941, Zagourski traveled around Central Africa photographing its people, places, and local traditions. At the same time, he established and maintained a store in Leopoldville to sell these images as postcards and large prints. He also exhibited his work at the Paris World's Fair in 1937.

This extraordinary collection consists of 200 postcards made from photographs taken by Casimir Zagourski in Africa between 1924 and 1941, which formed a part of his overal project, "L'Afrique Qui Disparait" (Disappearing Africa). The photos are set in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as the Belgian Congo), Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, Kenya, Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Congo-Brazzaville. The postcards depict a variety of aspects of everyday life in these different settings, including, for example, housing styles and traditional grave sites.

Descriptions of individual items are available in the Manuscripts and Archives Digital Image Database.

Click on the right photo to see some other photos from the collection. Otherwise, proceed straight to the Manuscripts and Archives page which has the full collection of photos with descriptions.