Foster Albums (Early Christian Architecture and Antiquities)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

741 postcards and photographs mounted in 9 albums. The first five albums (FSA/1-5) relate to a tour of the Middle East (particularly Syria, Palestine and Turkey) made by Foster in 1953. These volumes also contain some pictures of sites and buildings in Greece and Italy. The other four albums (FSA/6-9) relate almost entirely to Italy, although there are a few pictures of buildings in Paris in FSA/8. The contents of all the albums strongly reflect Foster's research interest in early church architecture, but they also include some postcards on subjects as varied as the souks of Aleppo, Turkish folk dancing, and classical sites in Greece.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ian John Charles Foster (1908-1978), Orientalist librarian, was appointed to the staff of Durham University Library in 1946, and was its Keeper of Oriental Books from 1958 until his retirement in 1973. A notable linguist, his chief research interest was in the field of early Christian architecture, particularly the shape and contents of early churches, on which he built up a large personal book and pictorial collection, which he bequeathed to the University Library. He communicated some of his research in a notable series of illustrated lectures to the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, but he died without producing a book on the subject.


By place, with some overlap between albums.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Bequest by the collector, 1978

Other Finding Aids

Summary list, giving quantities of images in each album, and places covered, but no item level descriptions.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Foster Slides and Foster Papers.