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Rakotovao Collection of Madagascar Photographs

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Rakotovao, Armand
Title: Rakotovao Collection of Madagascar Photographs
Inclusive Dates: circa 1960?
Quantity: 1 linear ft.
Abstract: Collection of photographs of items relating to Madagascar, including portraits, paintings, museum objects, prints from books or other publications, and so on. The photographs were likely taken circa 1960, but the some of items in the photographs date back to the early 1800s.
Language: Majority in French, a little English and Malagasy.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Armand Rakotovao (fl. 1960-1979) was a magistrate in Madagascar and the author of at least three books on the country and its history: Ouvrages concernant Madagascar (1960?), Vocabulaire français-malagasy: mots juridiques et techniques avec des exemples (1976), and Histoire de Aristide Corroller: prince de Betanimena, gouverneur et commandant de Tamatave, secrétaire de Radama I, Généralissime de Ranavalona I (1974?). His French-Malagasy legal dictionary, created due to the requirement that legal judgements of indigenous courts be rendered in the native language rather than in French, was seen as an important work. (Denis Turcotte, La politique linguistique en Afrique francophone, p. 101) According to the Library of Congress, he was a recipient of the French National Order of Merit (chevalier de l'Ordre national) and a member of the Malagasy Academy (l'Académie malgache).

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Rakotovao Collection of Madagascar Photographs consists of black and white photographs of a range of items relating to Madagascar, compiled into three albums by Armand Rakotovao. The original red leatherette albums each had a "Bibliothèque Rakotovao" bookplate inside the front cover (a photocopy is provided in each box).

All of the photographs have typed captions in French, presumably added by Rakotovao. In addition, some of the original items had captions in French or occasionally English which are captured in the photograph. Subjects of the photographs include portraits of Madagascar rulers (e.g., Ranavalona I, Radama I); paintings, etchings or drawings of scenes or landscapes (e.g., "Audience de la Reine RANAVALONA I au Palais de Manjakamiadana"); papers and documents (e.g., "letter du Rev. Jones, premier missionarie de L.M.S. a RADAMA Ier"; "Diplôme de Radama II"); group portraits of notable individuals (ambassadors, governors); and so on.

The collection consists entirely of these photographic reproductions -- there are no actual paintings, illustrations, documents, or other original material.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Original order, as the albums were compiled by the collector.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Dussac, Paul.
Laborde, Jean, 1805-1878.
Radama II, King of Madagascar, 1830-1863.
Radama, I, King of Madagascar, 1791-1828.
Rakotovao, Armand.
Ranavalona I, Queen of Madagascar, ca. 1790-1861.


Ambassadors -- Madagascar.
Churches -- Madagascar.
Portraits -- Madagascar -- Reproductions.
Soldiers -- Madagascar.


Madagascar -- History -- 1885-1960.
Madagascar -- History -- Hova rule, 1810-1885.
Madagascar -- Kings and rulers.

Genres and Forms


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Rakotovao Collection of Madagascar Photographs,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information


Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 29 Jan 2013
Revision history:

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Photograph albums
Box 1 Madagascar hier et aujourd'hui [Madagascar yesterday and today] [Volume 1] - primarily rulers of Madagascar; first item is a photograph of a painting of Andrianampoinimerina, who reigned from 1788-1810; last item is a photograph of an October 1900 photograph of prime minister Rainilarivony.
Box 2 [Volume 2] - notable individuals such as politicians (e.g. Paul Dussac), ambassadors, princes and rulers of other countries (e.g. Sultan Said Ali bin Said Omar of Grande Comore), academicians, etc.; includes photograph of an 1897 letter from the rebel chieftain Rabezavana to General Hubert Lyautey, later Resident-General of French Morocco but then serving in Madagascar under General Joseph Gallieni.
Box 3 [Volume 3] - primarily people and scenes related to churches and missions, including churches and their staff, Christian survivors of persecution ("Les survivants sous le règne de Rasoherina, des premiers chrétiens persecutés par Ranavalona I"), physicians, teachers; other subjects include Jean Laborde (engineer and French consul to Madagascar), Malagasy soldiers, General [Will?] Shervinton, and others.

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