Discovering Carl Simon: a storyteller who used photography to engage people

Discovering Carl Simon: a storyteller who used photography to engage people

img. “A visit to the zoo: the bears”. Carl Simon United Archives/Archiv Carl Simon. In Copyright.

Carl Simon (1873-1952) was a passionate about photography and a photography professional: he constructed cameras, lent slide projectors and began to collect hand-colored glass slides on a wide array of topics (historical, scientific, geographical, literary, etc). His aim was to show the world to as many people as possible – especially those who didn’t have the means to go and explore themselves –  and organized about 300 shows all across Germany.


In 2011, the life work of photographer Carl Simon was unburied from an old storage room in Unterbilk, Düsseldorf (Germany) and a year later, United Archives – a photo agency based in Cologne and one of the most important members of PHOTOCONSORTIUM – acquired this unique legacy: next to 2 original glass slide projectors, 15 lenses and the scripts used by Simon in his public presentations, United Archives was able to add c. 23.000 glass slides, arranged in 200 wooden boxes, to its collection, starting a digitization action to preserve and make available online this vey peculiar material.

Such archive has recently been browsed by curator Sofie Taes to pick enough gems for a online collection on Europeana Photography, the thematic channel hosted in Europeana and curated by PHOTOCONSORTIUM. In her piece appeared on KU Leuven’s blog “Cultural Studies”, she introduces us to this collection and showcases lovely examples that provide insights in social conventions and traditions, ethical and aesthetical ideals of the time.

Read the blog on Cultural Studies

Visit Europeana Photography thematic collection


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